Let’s be honest -- a list of the top Tigers defensive plays of the past decade could easily be a José Iglesias highlight reel with some physics-defying acrobatics left over. But it would leave out plenty of tremendous plays from other Tigers over the past 10 years, from Austin Jackson’s patrol of center field to James McCann’s lockdown of the running game to Brandon Inge’s quick reactions at the hot corner to JaCoby Jones’ home run robberies.
Iglesias still ends up with his fair share of plays on this top 10 list, including the no-doubt No. 1 choice. But others earn their due, including an amazing play from cup-of-coffee Tiger Ezequiel Carrera. Here’s the list:
1) Iglesias with a flick of the wrist
Date: Aug. 12, 2013
Two weeks after the Tigers traded for Iglesias, the slick-fielding shortstop gave a preview of the highlight plays to come over the years, grabbing a Josh Phegley chopper and flipping it to first in one diving motion for an unbelievable out.
2) Ezequiel, up, up and away
Date: Aug. 4, 2014
Ezequiel Carrera wasn’t a Tiger for long, but he left a lasting impression with this highlight catch when he flew through the air and onto the warning track in center field to rob Jacoby Ellsbury of a bases-clearing hit at Yankee Stadium. Even Derek Jeter was impressed, giving it a wow as he scrambled back to first base.
3) Oh, Jackson
Date: June 2, 2010
Though this Tigers-Indians game will always be remembered for Jim Joyce’s call on what should’ve been the final out of an Armando Galarraga perfect game, Galarraga’s bid for perfection wouldn’t have gotten that far if not for rookie center fielder Austin Jackson’s mad dash and over-the-shoulder catch of Mark Grudzielanek’s fly ball earlier in the ninth inning. It’s too bad Statcast wasn’t around to track how much ground Jackson covered to make this catch.
4) 'Looked like a Cirque du Soleil act'
Date: Oct. 17, 2013
Few shortstops in the decade were better at making catches with their back to the infield than José Iglesias, who ran from the other side of second base into short left field and threw his glove out to make a snow-cone catch on a David Ortiz popup in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park. Even Ortiz was applauding it on his way back to the dugout as Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Max Scherzer marveled at the play on the air.
5) 'This guy’s a magician with that glove'
Date: June 15, 2016
José Iglesias and Ian Kinsler teamed up for hundreds of double plays over their four years as Tiger teammates, but none of them were as pretty as this near-one. Iglesias charged a José Abreu chopper in front of second base, then flipped it behind his back, trusting Kinsler would be there. Kinsler reached over his head to barehand the ball for the out at second, then fired to first. Abreu beat the throw, but simply getting the ball there was incredible.
6) Peña gets Smoaked but holds on for final out at plate
Date: April 17, 2013
Brayan Peña caught 14 innings and 211 pitches on a chilly Wednesday night in Seattle, but it was the hit he absorbed at home plate that stood out in the Tigers’ extra-innings win over the Mariners. Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder teamed up for the throw home on Dustin Ackley’s double into the corner. Peña held on despite a collision with Justin Smoak at the plate.
7) Austin Jackson with game-ending double play
Date: Aug. 21, 2011
The Tigers won their first division title in 24 years by pulling away down the stretch, including a series sweep of second-place Cleveland in August. Jackson sealed the sweep with his catch-and-throw double play, retiring Kosuke Fukudome at home plate for an 8-7 win.
8) JaCoby Jones robs Victor Robles at the fence
Date: June 29, 2019
Not only did Jones reach over the fence to bring back Victor Robles’ drive to left-center, but he had his shoulder over the fence, his arm fully extended and his glove in the Nationals’ bullpen for this highlight grab.
9) Inge ends season with diving catch
Date: Oct. 3, 2010
Brandon Inge had no shortage of highlight plays in his Tigers tenure, but most of them happened in the previous decade. He still had some Gold Glove defense in him in 2010, a season that ended in Baltimore with him flying through the air towards shortstop for a grab to rob Luke Scott, sealing a 4-2 win and a .500 season.
10) McCannon strikes against Houston
Date: July 31, 2016
James McCann threw out 106 would-be basestealers over four-plus seasons behind the plate for the Tigers, but none were arguably as impressive as this throw from his knees to nab Houston’s George Springer to end the inning.