Juan great catch: Lagares channels Mays

Mets CF makes outstanding over-the-shoulder grab to rob Murphy of extra bases

May 19th, 2016

NEW YORK -- For eternity, the box score of the Mets' 7-1 loss to the Nationals will show simply that Daniel Murphy drove home Washington's fourth run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. And that's the problem with box scores.

As it actually went down, Murphy drove a ball to deep center field, where Juan Lagares battled the wind, tracked it down and made a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch, invoking Willie Mays to rob Murphy of extra bases. Though Ben Revere scored easily on the play, Lagares prevented the damage from being far worse.

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Impressive on a normal night, Lagares' catch saw its degree of difficulty ratcheted up by the gusty weather at Citi Field, which included 10-mph winds at the start of the game. With winds blowing from right to left as the ball hung for more than six full seconds, according to Statcast™, Lagares had enough time to range 116 feet -- the most distance he's covered on a catch this year -- at a top speed of 18.3 mph. But that flight path also forced him to swing his head back at the last moment and snare the baseball over his left shoulder.

"That was tremendous," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The route he took, the ball must have drifted on him, it must have had some type of spin to it, because it started to tail back on him. To be able to stay with that, running in that direction, is amazing. This guy is what he was two years ago. He's an outstanding center fielder."

Gif: Juan Lagares, Willie Mays side-by-side

Two years ago, Lagares was a Gold Glover before an elbow injury and conditioning issues combined to make him mortal. Lagares has since overcome all of that, appearing once again to be one of the game's best center fielders.

But last year's struggles also played a role in the Mets trading for -- and ultimately re-signing -- Yoenis Cespedes, who cost Lagares his job. These days, Lagares typically only starts against left-handed pitchers, such as Washington's Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday. But by helping off the bench often on other nights, Lagares has appeared in all but eight of the Mets' 39 games.

Juan Lagares continues career-long Willie Mays impression

Additional highlight-reel catches can only help his bid for increased playing time as the summer progresses.

"He has a shot to catch everything," Murphy said. "I've seen him out there too much."