Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Twins catcher Willians Astudillo channeled Magic Johnson with this no-look pickoff throw

For a catcher to successfully throw behind a runner and pick him off, some combination of three factors must be at play. First, the runner can't expect the throw. The catcher must also act quickly and have a fast pop time to the bag. Lastly, the catcher must have a strong arm so the runner doesn't have time to dive to the bag once he figures out what's going on. On the strength of the last two factors, Willson Contreras and Yadier Molina have become masters of the craft.
On Monday night, Twins catcher Willians Astudillo unveiled his own brand of successful pickoff to the Yankees' detriment. His is based entirely on deception and trickery.
He picked off Shane Robinson by a comfortable margin not because his move was exceptionally quick or his throw freakishly strong. He picked him off because, until the moment the ball left his hand, Astudillo had everyone -- first baseman Kennys Vargas included -- convinced he was making a routine toss back to the pitcher.

With this sort of sneakiness afoot, expect runners to hang a bit closer to the bag when Astudillo is behind the plate going forward.