It's time to show some love for the glove.
Sure, we all love watching baseballs fly off bats and over fences, we all love calculating exit velocity and launch angle, and we all love watching our favorite players round the bases, but home runs and big-time offense are only part of the Major League equation.
Run prevention is where it's at, too, and the best athletes in the game often get to show off those skills the most when they're making dazzling defensive plays.
There are almost too many to choose from when it comes to determining the winner of the 2016 Esurance MLB Award for Best Play, Defense, but they've been narrowed down to a fantastic five finalists, and the plays that are up for the award represent a little bit of everything:
There's an incredible catch at the wall by Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, an astounding route to a ball in the outfield by Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, a game-saving, walk-off-homer-robbing snare by the Braves' Ender Inciarte, a rocket throw by Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, and one of the most creative and memorable plays of the year, a wall-climbing catch by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Individual awards will go to the Best Major Leaguer in addition to the winners in the following categories: Best Hitter, Pitcher, Rookie, Defensive Player, Manager, Executive, Social Media Personality and postseason performer.
Winners will also be recognized for the year's best play on offense, regular-season moment, postseason moment, single-game performance, social media post, fan catch, broadcast call, player-fan interaction and trending topic.
Voting began on Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. ET on MLB.com/awards, one hour after the inaugural Esurance MLB Fans of the Year winners were announced.
Voting for the MLB Awards will remain open until 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 11 at MLB.com/awards. Winners will be announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Nov. 18.
Dyson made history by becoming the first player to rob a homer at Marlins Park, pulling off the feat on Aug. 25 after an incredible trip of 97.9 feet, according to Statcast™. Dyson had a first step of 0.10 seconds, a maximum speed of 19.8 mph while racking up a route efficiency of 96 percent.
We all know Hamilton is fast, but 22 mph is simply amazing, and he hit that number -- just a hair slower than Olympic 100-meter champion Usain Bolt's 23 mph -- during an Aug. 23 catch vs. Texas. Equally stunning: Hamilton traveled 123 feet to catch the ball, had a first-step reaction of minus-0.03 seconds -- which means he was moving just before the ball was hit -- and had a route efficiency of 97.2 percent.
Given the circumstances, with a Sept. 21 game on the line, Inciarte might deserve a few extra bonus points. The Mets were in full pennant-race mode and Inciarte crushed their hopes, for a night, at least, by running 104 feet and hitting 19.2 mph before robbing Yoenis Céspedes of a game-winning homer.
Puig is known for his arm strength, and he didn't disappoint on April 22 against rookie sensation Trevor Story of the Rockies. Puig's rocket throw from right field traveled 310 feet to nail Story at third base and was clocked by Statcast™ at 93.5 mph. It took every bit of that throw to get the swift Story, who hit 20.7 mph while getting from home to third in 11.84 seconds.
Rizzo scored nicely in route efficiency (93.2 percent) and distance covered (72.2 feet) on his spectacular Aug. 16 catch against Milwaukee -- which came almost a year to the day of a similar catch vs. the same team (!) -- but he gets all the points for creativity and the willingness to put himself on the line for his team. It's not every day a player literally climbs a side wall and balances atop it to make a grab.