This is a catch no 3B has made before

August 19th, 2020

How good is Manny Machado’s range?

Well, he’s a third baseman who just made one of the best catches of the year -- and he made it practically at the right-field warning track.

With no outs in the bottom of the second inning of the Padres’ 6-4 victory on Tuesday afternoon, Rangers slugger Joey Gallo lifted a high drive into the right-field corner. Machado, playing deep in a shift behind second base, tracked backward. Quickly, it became evident that right fielder Wil Myers wouldn’t make it to the ball in time.

So, Machado took over. He retreated into the corner, coolly put his glove out and -- with his back to home plate -- made a ridiculous stabbing grab. And, as he usually does, he made it all look incredibly easy.

“That was incredible, man,” said Myers. “It was a lot of fun to watch. I was shifted over in right-center and Manny in shallow right. He got a bead on that ball, and it was pretty impressive. That was his ball the whole way, and he went after it.”

Machado covered 100 feet to make the catch in the right-field corner, a projected 282 feet from home plate, according to Statcast. That’s the deepest fly ball caught by an infielder dating back to 2015 when Statcast began tracking. (Infielders are defined as any player starting a play within 220 feet of home plate, ruling out those who have shifted into a four-man outfield.)

The previous long was a 248-foot Mike Moustakas pop fly that Tigers second baseman Dixon Machado -- no relation -- tracked down in a similar spot down the right-field line on May 3, 2018. Only Manny went quite a bit deeper into the right-field corner.

“He covered some ground, and his hand-eye is just so remarkable to be able to catch that on the run like that,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “That's an extremely hard play, and he made it look relatively easy. He took a double away.”

Machado, of course, is a two-time Gold Glove winner at third base. But he’s filled a bit of a different role this season. The Padres have employed him deep behind second base against powerful lefties in a shift. It’s a drastic change from 2019, when Machado merely moved to short and the team’s second baseman dropped deep.

The Padres’ thinking is simple enough: Machado is an elite defender, so why not put him where the ball is most likely to end up? Machado endorsed the plan earlier this month.

"It's about getting 27 outs," he said. "And if I can steal a couple back there, that'll be good for the team.”

He stole one from Gallo in a big way on Tuesday afternoon.