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Each team's best defensive play of 2018

December 21, 2018

Great defensive plays can leave us awe-inspired and wanting more. As we look back on the 2018 season with the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here is each club's top defensive play of the year.Angels: Simmons makes an unbelievable running catch (May 30)Andrelton Simmons routinely makes highlight-reel-worthy plays at

Great defensive plays can leave us awe-inspired and wanting more. As we look back on the 2018 season with the help of each MLB.com beat writer, here is each club's top defensive play of the year.
Angels: Simmons makes an unbelievable running catch (May 30)
Andrelton Simmons routinely makes highlight-reel-worthy plays at shortstop, but he outdid himself in the Angels' 6-1 loss to the Tigers on May 30, sprinting 85 feet into left field to make an unbelievable diving catch on a pop up from Victor Martinez. Full highlight >
Astros: Marisnick robs Taylor with leaping grab (Aug. 5)
Jake Marisnick timed his jump perfectly to rob Chris Taylor of a home run in the sixth inning of a loss to the Dodgers. Marisnick had entered the game in center field in the third inning to replace George Springer, who injured his thumb earlier in the game. Full highlight >
Athletics: Laureano makes a throw for the ages (Aug. 12)
Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman thrilled daily on defense, but it was Ramon Laureano who made not just the A's top defensive play of the year but the best anywhere. The rookie center fielder's jaw-dropping throw -- following an impressive grab, no less -- capped a sensational double play in Anaheim on Aug. 12 and will be talked about for years; it was clocked at 91.2 mph, traveling 321 feet from the left-center field warning track to first base. Full highlight >

Blue Jays: Pillar takes a homer away from Castellanos (July 1)
It should come as no surprise that the Blue Jays' top grab of the year belongs to center fielder Kevin Pillar. Nicknamed "Superman" for his ability to make jaw-dropping grabs in the outfield, Pillar made one of his best catches yet on July 1 when his glove soared above the Rogers Centre wall to take a home run away from Detroit's Nick Castellanos. Full highlight >
Braves: Swanson saves the day (Sept. 8)
Having lost four of their past five, the Braves were staring at trouble when the D-backs put two in scoring position with one out in the 10th inning of a Sept. 8 game at Chase Field. A.J. Pollock's two-out single looked like a potential game winner until shortstop Dansby Swanson ranged to his left, dove into the grass behind second base and then quickly rose to his feet to deny a hustling Nick Ahmed's bid to score the tying run from second base. Full highlight >
Brewers: Galvis 'defied physics' with tremendous play (July 13)
Freddy Galvis made the extraordinary look routine all season in San Diego. But his best play came during a mid-July contest against the Dodgers at Petco Park. Justin Turner swatted a slow four-hopper up the middle. Galvis ranged to the second-base bag, snagged the ball with his glove and made an unbelievable throw while spinning on one knee. "It defied physics," said right-hander Adam Cimber, who was on the mound at the time. Full highlight >
Cardinals: Wong ranges to his right and makes incredible throw (Aug. 21)
Kolten Wong piled up web gems last season, but his most impressive came against the Dodgers on Aug. 21. He opened the ninth by ranging to the shortstop side of the infield, and, while falling over, made an accurate throw to first base. The Cards went on to win, 5-2. Full highlight >
Cubs: Baez barrels over wall to make spectacular catch (June 5)
Javier Baez dazzled defensively at both second base and shortstop for the Cubs in 2018, showing off impressive range and earning plenty of attention for his slick tags. On June 5 against the Phillies, Baez showed no regard for his body as he flipped over a brick sidewall on the run from short to snag a drifting fly ball from Odubel Herrera of the Phillies. Two Cubs fans helped Baez up after he hoisted his glove skyward from the ground in the first row at Wrigley Field. Full highlight >

D-backs: Dyson dazzles with homer-robbing grab (June 18)
Outfielder Jarrod Dyson robbed three home runs this past year, and it's hard to pick which was more impressive. The three-run homer he stole from Milwaukee's Domingo Santana on June 18 at Miller Park tops the list only because of the ground he had to cover in dead center. Full highlight >
Dodgers: Bellinger preserves NLCS Game 4 tie with swan dive (Oct. 17)
Cody Bellinger won Game 4 of the NLCS with a 13th-inning walk-off single, but three innings earlier his spectacular swan-dive of a catch in right field thwarted Lorenzo Cain's bid for extra bases. Bellinger had a 17 percent catch probability on the play, according to Statcast™. Two batters later, Ryan Braun singled. Full highlight >

Giants: Crawford goes from shortstop to bullpen for grab (July 21)
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford provides an enduring highlight by racing into Oakland's bullpen to snare Matt Olson's sixth-inning foul pop-up. Full highlight >
Indians: Allen makes over-the-shoulder catch at Fenway (Aug. 21)
Greg Allen channeled his inner Say Hey Kid against the Red Sox last August, making an over-the-shoulder sliding grab in the deepest part of Fenway Park to rob Mitch Moreland of extra bases and to save a run. Full highlight >
Mariners: Haniger seals victory by robbing Stanton (Sept. 9)
Right fielder Mitch Haniger pulled off a spectacular game-ending diving catch in the right-center gap to rob a hit from Giancarlo Stanton and clinch a 3-2 win over the Yankees on Sept. 9 at Safeco Field. After scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth following outstanding slides both at second base and then at the plate, Haniger's full-out dive on Stanton's blooper preserved Edwin Diaz's 54th save. Full highlight >
Marlins: Anderson's cannon arm nabs Freeman at third (May 12)
The Braves learned early on not to test Brian Anderson's arm. Miami's Opening Day third baseman, Anderson was challenged in right field by Freddie Freeman. Attempting to go from first to third on Nick Markakis' single, Anderson unloaded a throw to Martin Prado for an easy out. Full highlight >
Mets: McNeil goes full-extension to snare Martinez bloop (Sept. 15)
Late in the season, Jeff McNeil consistently showed that he was a better defender than advertised coming up through the Minors. His top highlight occurred Sept. 15 in Boston, when he sprawled onto the outfield grass to rob J.D. Martinez of a would-be bloop single. Full highlight >
Nationals: Soto snatches foul pop from stands (Sept. 11)
If there was one critique Juan Soto would give himself from his standout debut season, he would almost certainly point to his defense and the need to improve on an everyday basis. Still, at times he showed he has an impressive next gear in left field, including this leaping catch into the stands in foul territory during the first game of a doubleheader in Philadelphia. Full highlight >
Orioles: Valera goes all-out for full-extension catch (Sept. 13)
Manny Machado? Adam Jones? No, the Orioles' play of 2018 came from September callup Breyvic Valera, who raced 86 feet to rob A's outfielder Ramon Laureano with a diving catch down the right field line. Valera's efforts kept the tying run off base in the ninth inning of an eventual 5-3 Orioles' win. Full highlight >
Padres: Galvis makes spinning throw from his knees (July 12)
Freddy Galvis made the extraordinary look routine all season in San Diego. But his best play came during a mid-July contest against the Dodgers at Petco Park. Justin Turner swatted a slow four-hopper up the middle. Galvis ranged to the second-base bag, snagged the ball with his glove and made an unbelievable throw while spinning on one knee. "It defied physics," said right-hander Adam Cimber, who was on the mound at the time. Full highlight >

Phillies: Odubel robs homer right out of center-field bush (Apr. 28)
Odubel Herrera surprised everybody at Citizens Bank Park on April 28, when he robbed Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman of a home run. Herrera not only leapt over the center-field fence, but he seemed to pull the ball from the bush just beyond the wall. Full highlight >
Pirates: Dickerson robs Schwarber of a homer (May 28)
Doubters warned manager Clint Hurdle that he'd need to have a defensive replacement on hand for new left fielder Corey Dickerson. Time after time, Dickerson proved them wrong on his way to winning a Gold Glove Award. Teammates quickly came to appreciate Dickerson's highlight-reel plays, like his robbery of Kyle Schwarber at PNC Park. Full highlight >
Rangers: DeShields slams into wall to rob Piscotty (June 5)
Delino DeShields made a number of outstanding catches in center field this past season. One that stands out was the catch he made against the center field wall to take a run-scoring hit away from Oakland outfielder Stephen Piscotty in the second inning. The Rangers trailed 2-0 at the time but rallied for a 7-4 victory. The Statcast™ graphic in the video shows the tale of the tape on this catch. Full highlight >
Rays: Wendle makes spectacular glove-flip to get Bour (July 20)
Justin Bour looped a liner over the outstretched glove of Rays pitcher Nathan Eovaldi in the top of the fourth inning on July 20. Sometimes you just get lucky, right? Rays 2B Joey Wendle rushed in, fielded the ball and did an acrobatic backhand flip out of his glove to Rays 1B Jake Bauers for the out. Full highlight >
Red Sox: Benintendi ends ALCS Game 4 with amazing catch (Oct. 17)
Craig Kimbrel was on the ropes and it looked like the Astros were about to either tie or take the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning when Alex Bregman scorched a liner to left. But Andrew Benintendi came up with a brilliant, five-star catch, and the Sox had a thrilling, 8-6 win that put them up, 3-1, in the series. Full highlight >

Reds: Hamilton twists and turns to rob Carpenter (July 13)
To end the bottom of the seventh inning of a 9-1 Reds win over the Cardinals, Billy Hamilton robbed Matt Carpenter of a home run with a leaping catch at the center field wall. The journey to make that catch was far from routine, even for Hamilton. After Carpenter lifted a first-pitch fastball from Amir Garrett, Hamilton turned his back to the infield to track the ball and spun around. Then he needed to backpedal a few more feet and turned again. As the ball came in for a landing, he sprinted again and scaled the fence to reach over and make a spectacular catch. Full highlight >
Rockies: Wolters ends game with heads-up play (May 21)
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium, and the Rockies clinging to a 2-1 lead, Matt Kemp hit a ground ball deep in the hole at shortstop, where Trevor Story made a backhand play and throw to first. The throw was low and got by first baseman Ian Desmond, but Wolters was there to grab it and toss to Desmond for the out, as Kemp had taken a step inside the foul line toward second base. Full highlight >
Royals: Phillips unleashes throw to nab Garcia at home (Aug. 2)
Outfielder Brett Phillips, just a few days after being acquired by the Royals from Milwaukee in the Mike Moustakas trade, showed off his cannon at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. Phillips made a catch in center field, took a bunny hop, and rifled a throw to home that Statcast™ measured at 104 mph to nail White Sox runner Leury Garcia. Full highlight >
Tigers: Jones brings back Beltre's homer (July 7)
JaCoby Jones reached over Comerica Park's left-field fence and into the bullpen to bring back Adrian Beltre's drive, a home-run robbery that helped the Tigers to a 7-2 victory over the Rangers. Full highlight >
Twins: Austin flips over railing but makes catch (Sept. 16)
Christopher Austin made a memorable grab against the Royals on Aug. 16, as he caught a foul pop-up from Alcides Escobar and tumbled head-first over the dugout railing but held onto the ball. Full highlight >
White Sox: Engel takes three-run homer from Alonso (Aug. 12)
Center fielder Adam Engel swiped home runs from the Yankees Greg Bird on Aug. 6, the Yankees Kyle Higashioka on Aug. 7 and made yet a third home run saving catch five days later which might be his best. Engel took away a three-run homer from Cleveland's Yonder Alonso, who now is Engels' teammate, in the eighth inning of a 9-7 loss to the Indians. Full highlight >

Yankees: Hechavarria makes tremendous catch in Wild Card Game (Oct. 3)
In the AL Wild Card Game against the Athletics, Adeiny Hechavarria entered as a sixth-inning defensive replacement for third baseman Miguel Andujar. A midseason pickup from the Pirates, Hechavarria is known for his glove, and he lived up to that reputation by making a terrific leaping grab to steal a sure double from Marcus Semien leading off the seventh. Full highlight >