It may have been a shortened season in 2020, but there was no shortage of spectacular plays on the diamond, both in the regular season and in October. Whether it was a seemingly impossible defensive play, a rocket of a throw, a milestone home run, a walk-off grand slam, a historic pitching performance or an incredible individual postseason run, an unprecedented season thrilled us from the first pitch to the last out of the World Series.
The number of plays to choose from seems endless. But MLB Network pared it all down to the Capital One Top 100 Plays of the Year. Which ones made the cut? Which ones are near the top? Which one is at the top? Here's a look at the finest plays of 2020:
No. 1: Mookie Betts unleashes a missile from the right-field corner to to nab Ketel Marte at third, July 31
His initials aren’t M.L.B. for nothing. Betts has amazed us so much that the bar is pretty high for him to do something jaw-dropping. But when you do what he did against the D-backs at Chase Field on July 31, jaws drop. Marte blooped a ball down the right-field line and into the corner, where Betts picked it up and made a 305-foot throw right on the money to easily get Marte trying for a triple. And Marte is no slouch on the basepaths -- according to Statcast, his sprint speed on the play was 28.3 feet per second (27 feet per second is the MLB average).
No. 2: Brett Phillips becomes an unlikely World Series hero on one of the craziest plays in baseball history, Oct. 24
It was surprising enough that Phillips, who went just 3-for-20 (.150) after being traded to the Rays by the Royals on Aug. 27, would be the hero of World Series Game 4, and then things just got stranger from there. Phillips had entered the game as a pinch-runner, and was making his first plate appearance in 17 days. He delivered a two-out, two-strike, game-tying hit off Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the ninth inning, and then chaos ensued -- Chris Taylor booted the ball in right-center field, and Randy Arozarena headed for the plate and was going to be out by about 30 feet. But as catcher Will Smith tried for a swipe tag, the ball got away and Arozarena scored the winning run.
No. 3: Lucas Giolito no-hits Pirates, Aug. 25
Just two seasons ago, Giolito gave up an MLB-high 118 earned runs and walked an AL-high 90 batters while posting a 6.15 ERA for the White Sox. He dramatically turned things around in 2019, and it all culminated on Aug. 25 of this past season, when he no-hit the Pirates at Guaranteed Rate Field, striking out 13 and walking only one on an economical 101 pitches.
No. 4: Cody Bellinger robs Fernando Tatis Jr. of an NLDS homer, Oct. 7
It’s NLDS Game 2. Two outs in the seventh inning. The Dodgers lead the Padres by a run. With a runner on second, Tatis crushes a shot to center field that’s headed over the wall for a huge go-ahead homer. Until it lands in the glove of a leaping Bellinger, who tracked the ball to the fence and timed his jump just right to make a picture-perfect grab for a clutch home run robbery.
No. 5: Kyle Lewis with a glimpse of why he would win the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Award, robbing Ramón Laureano of a grand slam, Sept. 14
The Mariners were going to be down 5-0 in the first inning. Because the ball Laureano smashed into left-center field with two outs was going to easily clear the wall at T-Mobile Park. But Lewis wouldn’t have that, making the long run to the gap and leaping at the wall to bring back Laureano’s drive to preserve a 1-0 deficit.
No. 6: Eric Hosmer makes history with a ‘Slam Diego’ Special, Aug. 20
When the calendar flipped to Aug. 20, no team in Major League history had launched a grand slam in four consecutive games. Hosmer took care of that in the fifth inning against the Rangers at Petco Park, when he smashed a screaming liner just over the wall in right field to make the “Slam Diego” Padres the first.
No. 7: Alec Mills no-hits the Brewers in Milwaukee, Sept. 13
In just his 15th Major League start, and in a season unlike any other for all of baseball, Mills etched his name in the history books with a no-hitter of the Brewers at Miller Park. The right-hander threw 114 pitches, walking three and striking out five in a 12-0 Cubs win.
No. 8: Mookie makes the first of two stunning catches against the wall to rob the Braves in the NLCS, Oct. 17
With the Dodgers facing elimination in Game 6 of the NLCS, they led the Braves, 3-0, with a runner on base and two outs in the fifth inning. Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna smashed a ball deep to right field, where Betts got to the track and made a spectacular catch against the wall, a full-extension grab to bring back what would have been extra bases and a Braves run scored at the least. Betts’ reaction was pure October.
No. 9: Nolan Arenado makes an unbelievable over-the-shoulder, sliding catch in medium-deep left field, Aug. 1
Arenado made a ridiculous play. We’ve all heard that one before. So when he makes a play that’s so ridiculous it still inspires awe among those of us who are spoiled after having seen so many Arenado gems before, that’s saying something. He did just that against the Padres at Coors Field, when Trent Grisham lofted a fly ball that Arenado went all the way out to medium-deep left field for, crossing into foul territory as he went into a slide and caught the ball over his shoulder. Just unreal.
No. 10: Randy Arozarena breaks yet another postseason record with his 10th homer, Oct. 24
Arozarena had a postseason for the ages. The rookie outfielder for the Rays rewrote the record books in several offensive categories, and with a solo homer to right field in the first inning of World Series Game 6 against the Dodgers, he set a new record for home runs in a single postseason, with 10.
Milestones, postseason clinches and dramatic October moments highlight plays Nos. 11-20, including Albert Pujols eclipsing Willie Mays with his 661st career home run, more of Betts and Bellinger shining bright in the NLCS, Carlos Correa launching a walk-off homer in the ALCS, and some walk-off “Slam Diego” before the Padres punch a ticket to their first postseason in 14 years.
In this group, AL MVP José Abreu smashes three home runs in one game, Mike Brosseau hits an incredibly clutch homer -- off of Aroldis Chapman, no less -- to put the Rays ahead late in ALCS Game 7, rookie phenom Luis Robert launches his first career walk-off homer, and an assortment of defensive gems, including some particularly Amazin' plays from a pair of Mets and a little smooth Jazz.
Another Angels milestone -- this one from, who else? Mike Trout. Also, a trio of three-homer performances, a walk-off grand slam at Coors Field, a phenomenal catch by a phenom in center field, Manuel Margot fighting the sun and the fence in October and a pair of Rockies gems.
Tatis makes two appearances in this group -- one at the plate with an absolutely mammoth home run, and one spectacular running catch in shallow left field. And you didn’t think you’d seen the last of Arenado here, did you? Also in this set, how about nine (nine!) straight strikeouts?
Bryce Harper gets robbed and then robs a hit himself, Alex Dickerson does something only 14 other hitters had ever done, Bellinger belts a record-setting home run, Victor Robles makes a leaping catch at the warning track in center before completing a double play on an unbelievable throw to first, and Adam Duvall homers three times and drives in nine -- just a few examples from these highlights, which are sure to have you going back for some replays.
It’s not all that uncommon to see back-to-back homers. It’s a lot rarer to see back-to-back-to-back homers. But four “backs”? In this set of highlights, that’s what you’ll see from one of the most exciting lineups in the game. Also among these plays: Ronald Acuña Jr. obliterates the longest home run of 2020, a former Olympic speed skater makes a great diving play in his MLB debut, an unlikely source of power for the Bronx Bombers, and much more.
While it may not be four consecutive homers, how about four out of the first five batters? The Tigers achieved that and you’ll see them all in this lineup of plays, along with Yoenis Céspedes’ first homer in two years and some sweet defensive gems from Kyle Seager, Kole Calhoun and Laureano, just to name a few.
A sweet glove flip to begin a double play, sensational rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes making things look too easy, an unbelievable throw by Jason Heyward, Manny Machado making a great catch in … right field? These and more in this group of outstanding plays.
In the final set of the top 100 eye-popping plays from 2020: Ji-Man Choi, Kevin Kiermaier and the Rays put on a defensive clinic in the postseason, an inside-the-parker from Byron Buxton, a Dansby dinger to end it, Will Smith beats Will Smith, and much more.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.