Jose Bautista didn't earn the nickname "Joey Bats" because of his defense, but on Sunday afternoon, the Dominican Republic left fielder used his arm to make a huge play in the World Baseball Classic.Bautista's throw -- one of his best of the Statcast™ era -- cut down what would have
Jose Bautista didn't earn the nickname "Joey Bats" because of his defense, but on Sunday afternoon, the Dominican Republic left fielder used his arm to make a huge play in the World Baseball Classic.
Bautista's throw -- one of his best of the Statcast™ era -- cut down what would have been the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, preventing a walk-off win for Colombia. Instead, the D.R. forced extras on its way to a 10-3 victory in 11 innings at Marlins Park, making the team the winner of Pool C at 3-0.
Colombia had runners on the corners and one out with the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Reynaldo Rodriguez lined a Hansel Robles fastball to left field. Based on its 87-mph exit velocity and 18-degree launch angle, the ball had a Hit Probability of 62 percent, according to Statcast™.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
However, the line drive went straight at Bautista, who was in good position to make the catch and fire home, despite having not played an MLB game in left since 2009.
On third base, Colombia's Oscar Mercado tagged and broke for home, reaching a sprint speed -- based on the runner's fastest one second -- of 29.3 feet per second. That's faster than the D.R.'s Jean Segura (28.4) and Jonathan Villar (27.2) went on successful steal attempts earlier in the game.
However, Bautista unleashed an 88.4-mph throw that was faster than all but two Statcast™ tracked from him in 2016, when his personal best was 90.3 mph. None of Bautista's five outfield assists were harder. In fact, in the two seasons Statcast™ has been operational, Bautista only recorded one assist that was tracked with a higher velocity -- a 92.9-mph rocket from right field to third base against the Yankees on Sept. 22, 2015.
Just as important, the throw was accurate. It one-hopped catcher Welington Castillo on the third-base side of the plate, allowing Castillo to block the hard-charging Mercado as he received it. Mercado attempted to run over Castillo but was tagged before he could reach the plate with his hand.
Colombian outfielder Tito Polo objected to the call and was ejected, as was Rodriguez. Colombia's dugout emptied as players and coaches approached home plate, while the Dominicans celebrated on their way back to their dugout.
Two innings later, the D.R. pushed across seven runs and closed out the victory. Bautista finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run, but it was his defense that made the biggest impact.
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico and Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com.