Arenado tops best Rox defensive plays of '10s

December 17th, 2019

DENVER -- A Rockies team known for offense is quite well-decorated defensively. Right fielder Larry Walker was the Gold Glove standard in the franchise’s early days of the 1990s, and great defense has continued.

In the 2010s, Rockies players won 15 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards -- seven alone from third baseman , who, for the last two years, has been the National League Platinum Glove Award winner as the fan-voted best defender in the league. There legitimately could be a top 10 defensive plays of the decade featuring Arenado alone.

But for the purposes of this list, we decided to spread the leather, so to speak. Read along. Maybe this will spark your own memories of great Rockies glovework.

1) Arenado, the tarp monster
April 15, 2015

The play that took Arenado from unforgettable to unfathomable was one he later admitted he maybe should have let go. Grégor Blanco’s foul ball sailed toward the rolled-up tarp along the fence behind the Giants’ bullpen just down the third-base line. Arenado sprinted, then dove headlong to snare the ball, flying over the tarp and crashed against the fence. A fan at Oracle Park who extended her gloved hand trying to catch it herself kindly reached out to protect Arenado from injury. Arenado then sat up on the tarp and nearly doubled a runner off base in the signature glove play of the decade.

2) Another fan gets to catch Arenado
May 25, 2015

If you think about it, opposing teams had a marketing opportunity: Come to a game, catch Nolan Arenado -- literally. This time, in the eighth inning of a tie game, Arenado rushed toward foul ground for Skip Schumaker’s fly, dove to make the catch, and flipped into the stands. At least there was no tarp in his way. For good measure, Arenado later drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly.

3) Golden ending
June 11, 2016

Rookie reliever Carlos Estévez had two out and a two-run lead, but had runners on the corners in the ninth. The runner at first was the daring Travis Jankowski, who had his heart set on scoring position. But three-time Gold Glove second baseman served as the heartbreaker. Jankowski attempted to steal and catcher Dustin Garneau’s throw was wide to the first-base side. No matter. LeMahieu slid, reached back for the ball and tagged Jankowski in one motion to end the game.

4) Not inside this park
Aug. 14, 2017

An important game during the Rockies’ eventually successful run to the postseason began ominously. ’s diving attempt at an Ender Inciarte line drive missed, and the ball rolled to the left-field corner wall. Inciarte had a legitimate chance at an inside-the-park homer. It turned out, however, to be merely an opportunity for the Rockies to display pinpoint defense. Parra threw a strike to shortstop , whose relay throw to catcher Jonathan Lucroy was in time for a dramatic out. Inciarte was the first batter that faced in his return from testicular cancer.

5) Wolters had the Rockies’ back
May 21, 2018

The simple act of the catcher backing up first base on an infield grounder ended up winning the Rockies a contest at Dodger Stadium, thanks to . Matt Kemp’s grounder in the bottom of the ninth should have ended this one, but shortstop Trevor Story’s throw bounced past and hit the fencing in first-base foul ground. But Wolters was there to claim the baseball and toss it to Desmond. Kemp had started toward second, which meant Desmond’s tag ended the game.

6) CarGo seals it
April 16, 2017

Like Arenado, star right fielder could have dotted this list in many spots. In a game that also saw Wolters pounce on Brandon Crawford’s infield grounder and launch himself in the air while making the toss to first, it was up to González to end it, which he did with a magnificent diving grab of a liner off the bat of Eduardo Núñez.

7) Save it, then win it
Sept. 25, 2010

In his prime, shortstop was on the short list of best in the game at throwing on the run. In the fifth inning, the Giants’ Buster Posey thought he had a single when his grounder ticked off the glove of diving third baseman Melvin Mora. But Tulowitzki, sprinting to his right, barehanded and threw a strike to first base. Oh, by the way, Tulowitzki ended the game with an RBI double with one out in the ninth.

8) Fowler gives his all, against the wall
Aug. 1, 2010

It took a tremendous, and painful, ninth-inning effort from center fielder to ensure a crazy Coors Field game ended in victory for the Rockies. Closer Huston Street walked two hitters and gave a Marlon Byrd two-run triple to cut the difference to two runs. Alfonso Soriano launched a fly to right-center that was headed into the Rockies’ bullpen before Fowler leaped and reached high above what was then a short wall to snatch the ball. Fowler crashed into the wall and was carted off with left hip and rib contusions. But the ball was in his glove.

9) Take a chance
May 9, 2017

Sometimes, a play lives not because of its import, but its beauty. And González was a regular artist of the diving catch. Several of his catches in Purple Pinstripes earned 5-star ratings from Statcast, based on distance covered and opportunity time. This robbery of Javier Báez was full “CarGo” -- the long graceful strides, all while keeping his head and eyes steady for clear vision and judgment, the effortless dive and the easy landing -- had a catch probability of 8 percent. It was part of his highlight reel.

10) One hand at a time
July 2, 2014

This was just another loss during a difficult season. But no matter how the Rockies were faring in the standings during the decade, there was always a chance for a dazzling defensive play. This time, in the first inning, Anthony Rendon’s grounder took an odd bounce off the mound. LeMahieu made a siding backhand grab to the middle and glove-flipped to Tulowitzki for one out. Tulowitzki barehanded, pirouetted to the inside and threw a strike to first base for a double play that should be replayed for decades.