There are some things you just can't get enough of. The most spectacular defensive plays in a baseball season are definitely in that category. So, naturally, we wanted to not only watch the best plays of 2019 (a time or two ... or 20), but we wanted to rank them.
There are some things you just can't get enough of. The most spectacular defensive plays in a baseball season are definitely in that category. So, naturally, we wanted to not only watch the best plays of 2019 (a time or two ... or 20), but we wanted to rank them. Tune in to MLB Network tonight at 8 p.m. ET to see the Capital One Top 100 Plays of 2019, as well as where they rank, all the way up to the finest defensive play made all season.
Here's a sneak peek with a look at the top four plays, in no particular order.
An unreal catch, AND he stuck the landing
We've seen some pretty amazing plays within the odd dimensions of Fenway Park. Remember Jackie Bradley Jr.'s play? I know -- which one, right? Bradley was at the plate this time and launched a ball deep to right, where Orioles right fielder Stevie Wilkerson drifted back and started sizing up the fence right at the 380-foot marker. He measured it up, leaped, made an unbelievable catch and then nearly flipped into the stands. But he stuck the landing and remained on the field of play, almost as if he had rehearsed it beforehand.
We knew you had an arm, but are you kidding me?
We've seen what A's center fielder Ramón Laureano can do, and it's pretty incredible, particularly when it comes to the cannon he calls his right arm. But when he made this play against the Blue Jays at the Coliseum on April 22, we learned that what we saw before was only an appetizer to the main course. Teoscar Hernández thought he had gotten one, tagging it to deep center field. But Laureano raced back to the wall and leaped with his glove arm fully extended over the top of it to bring back what surely would have been a homer.
But that was only the first part of this two-part series. He then fired a throw back to the infield that, while high and over everyone's head, left everyone who witnessed it awestruck. And all's well that ends well -- Justin Smoak was all the way to second by the time Laureano made the tremendous grab, and after Smoak went back to first, he reversed back toward second again after seeing the ball go over the first baseman's head. But A's catcher Nick Hundley backed the play up and made a great off-balance throw to Jurickson Profar covering second to get Smoak.
JBJ: Just Being Jackie
Jackie Bradley Jr. giveth, and Bradley taketh away. This time, it was the latter. About four months before Wilkerson robbed him, he robbed one of Wilkerson's teammates with a play that takes your breath away. Trey Mancini smashed a ball deep to left-center field, and Bradley had some running to do. Once he got to the fence, he went into a running jump -- no time to slow down -- and with his entire upper body leaning over the fence at Camden Yards, brought a ball that was well over the wall back for the out. And on top of all that, he was stylish while making the play, making it look far too easy.
Whenever you're compared to Mike Trout, regardless of what the topic is, you're in good shape. Enter the Orioles' Austin Hays, who reenacted Trout's famous 2012 catch up against the center-field wall at Camden Yards. Hays drifted back and leaped with his left side banging into the wall, while his arm reached over and snared a drive off the bat of Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The catch looked nearly identical to Trout's, and Hays got a tip of the helmet from Guerrero. Talk about packing some star power into a great play.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.