HOUSTON -- Infielder David Fletcher has been a pleasant surprise for the Angels this year and he helped with both his bat and his glove in an 8-4 win over the Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, including starting one of the more impressive double plays of the 2019
HOUSTON -- Infielder David Fletcher has been a pleasant surprise for the Angels this year and he helped with both his bat and his glove in an 8-4 win over the Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, including starting one of the more impressive double plays of the 2019 season.
Fletcher, who also went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, started the incredible double play with a glove flip to second on a hard-hit grounder from Houston’s Yordan Alvarez to end the third inning. Alvarez, who homered in his previous at-bat, smacked a grounder to the right of Fletcher, who dived for the ball up the middle and quickly flipped the ball to shortstop Andrelton Simmons in one motion. Simmons retrieved the perfect flip and turned the double play to help left-hander Patrick Sandoval get out of the inning.
“We were playing a little bit to pull and it was up the middle,” Fletcher said. “I knew my only chance was to flip it as I was diving. If I just dove, it would be hard to get it off the ground, so that's what I tried to do. It's nice to have [Simmons] at short and know that if I get it to him, he'll do the rest."
• Box score
It was another impressive play by Fletcher, who is enjoying a breakout second season with the Angels, establishing himself as a regular at both second and third base. And it was a play that didn’t shock Sandoval despite the degree of difficulty.
“Unbelievable,” Sandoval said. “That dude played his butt off today. It’s not really a surprise. He’s a great player. He makes those kinds of plays all the time, I feel like. He’s always hustling to balls, so it’s not really a huge surprise to me that he made that play. But it was crazy.”
Fletcher also led off the game with his sixth home run of the season off Astros starter Wade Miley, his first homer since June 15, and then he added an RBI single in the second inning. He also sparked a two-out rally in the fourth with a single before coming around to score on a double from Albert Pujols.
“It's nice to hit home runs,” Fletcher said with a smile. “It was an 0-2 count, so I was just trying to get a pitch to hit hard. And I got a pretty good pitch to hit."
Fletcher, 25, has quickly become a fan favorite for his ability despite being listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds. Fletcher has been especially hot in September, hitting .329 (24-for-73), bouncing back after hitting a season-low .263 in August. It’s helped him to an overall slash line of .291/.350/.390 with six homers, 30 doubles and 48 RBIs in 147 games this year. He's second on the team in Wins Above Replacement behind Mike Trout, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
“I think going into the season we kind of viewed David Fletcher as a utility guy,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’s clearly proven he can play on an everyday basis, and he can play probably half the positions on the field and play them well.”
Fletcher, a local product who starred at Cypress High School and Loyola Marymount University, has exceeded all expectations since he was taken in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft. And he figures to be a big part of the Angels’ infield going forward, as he remains under team control through the 2024 season.
“He’s an extremely valuable guy to have,” Ausmus said. “He gives great at-bats. He can steal a base. He’s kind of a throwback. He’s the one guy when you talk to coaches and managers on the other team, they all like the way he plays the game.”
Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.