Statcast showcases year's top D honorees
The top overall defenders at each position were honored with Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards on Wednesday night. The winners were determined using a formula that combines traditional defensive stats with advanced metrics, while also factoring in data logged by baseball experts.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the eight position players honored on Wednesday provided some of the top highlights -- and, thus, some of the best Statcast™ material -- throughout the season.
The following is an in-depth breakdown, courtesy of Statcast™, of some of this season's top plays by Wednesday's award winners.
Catcher: Buster Posey
Posey caught 22 attempted basestealers this season, but a particular throw he made July 26 against the A's stands out above the rest. For starters, Posey recorded a respectable pop time of 1.9 seconds as then-Oakland second baseman Ben Zobrist broke for second base. Posey then rifled an 81.8-mph throw right on the mark to retire Zobrist. The throw was Posey's hardest on any caught stealing this season and his third-hardest throw overall, behind an 84.2-mph throw to second on a bunt attempt and an 83.3-mph throw on a successful Billy Hamilton stolen base.
First base: Paul Goldschmidt
It's no secret that Goldschmidt is one of the top offensive threats in the Majors, but the 28-year-old first baseman can also get it done on defense. He made sure the Mets were well aware of that on July 12, promptly robbing Daniel Murphy of a base hit in the first inning. Despite Murphy hitting a 101.9-mph rocket to the right side, Goldschmidt managed to make a diving stop, thanks largely to the fact that he took his first step only 0.18 seconds after the ball left Murphy's bat.
Second base: Dee Gordon
Gordon's elite skill set was on full display in the Marlins' June 10 game against the Blue Jays, when he raced into foul territory to make a spectacular sliding catch. Gordon actually began moving to his left just prior to Josh Donaldson even putting the ball in play, resulting in a first step time of -0.10 seconds. The speedster then reached a max speed of 20.3 mph as he raced a total distance of 149 feet to make the sliding grab.
Third base: Nolan Arenado
Arenado had no shortage of highlight-reel plays this season, but perhaps no team witnessed his defensive prowess more than the D-backs. That's because the Rockies third baseman took away not one, but two potential Arizona hits on Sept. 1. The first came on a slow chopper off the bat of Welington Castillo, which Arenado charged and barehanded before rifling a 76.7-mph throw to first base for the out. Later in that same game, Arenado ranged toward the line to make a backhanded stop on a Chris Owings grounder, then circled and fired a throw 117 feet across his body to narrowly record the out, helping Colorado escape a two-on, two-out jam. For the season, Arenado recorded 43 throws of at least 75 mph, the third most in the Majors behind only Manny Machado (52) and Donaldson (46).
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons
Though he was far from Simmons' only victim this season, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud likely knows better than anyone that the Braves shortstop deserved to be crowned Wilson's overall individual winner. For the second straight year, Simmons ranged deep into the hole to rob d'Arnaud of a hit, leaving him staring across the diamond in disbelief. The 2015 version, which came on April 10, involved Simmons taking his first step just 0.04 seconds after the ball left d'Arnaud's bat. After reaching a max speed of 14.7 mph en route to making a backhanded stop on the outfield grass, Simmons managed to muster a leaping 68.5-mph throw across his body, which traveled 144 feet on its way to beating d'Arnaud to first base.
Left field: Starling Marte
Marte prepared for the postseason by making one of his best catches of the year on the final weekend of the regular season. With the Pirates locked in a 4-4 tie with the Reds in the 12th inning, Marte charged in to make a sliding catch on a sinking line drive off the bat of Jay Bruce. Marte logged a superb route efficiency of 96.7 percent, allowing him just enough time to snag the 95.7-mph liner before it touched the ground.
Center field: Kevin Pillar
Take your pick when it comes to Pillar. The Blue Jays outfielder made a seemingly countless number of jaw-dropping catches this season, one of which came on Aug. 6 against the Twins. It was in that game that Pillar robbed Minnesota rookie Miguel Sano of an extra-base hit with a full-extension diving catch onto the warning track. Pillar reached a max speed of 19.1 mph as he sprinted deep into the right-center-field gap. He ultimately covered 73 feet, all at a 97.4-percent route efficiency, to send a stunned Sano back to the dugout. No player logged more regular-season catches with a route efficiency of 97 percent or better than the 69 turned in by Pillar.
Right field: Jason Heyward
Heyward's all-around talent makes him one of the most coveted free agents in this year's class -- and it also helped the Cardinals preserve a Sept. 20 victory over the rival Cubs. With the Cards clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning of a crucial divisional contest, the Cubs had the Wrigley Field faithful on their feet after loading the bases with nobody out. Addison Russell then lifted a fly ball to right field, which Heyward circled underneath to catch before coming up throwing. He managed to unleash a 95.5-mph strike that traveled 242 feet to nab Anthony Rizzo, the potential tying run, at the plate. The 4-3 score held up as the final.