It's time to start the process of handing our the AZ SnakePit end-of-season awards. It may not be a year which will live long in fan memory - to be honest, it's probably one we would like to forget, sooner rather than later - but there were certainly moments that we'll treasure. And that's where we start, with the Play of the Year 'Pittie. There are six nominees this season, covering plays offensive, defensive and managerial, all the way from May through September. After the jump, you'll find details of the nominees, and in case you want to relive any of those moments, you'll also find links to video of the plays in question.
May 4. Triple-play vs. LAD
Immediately after booting a ground-ball for an error, Josh Wilson started the first triple-play for Arizona since May 2000. With two runners going, Casey Blake scorched a line-drive,which Wilson snagged, flipped to Felipe Lopez for the second out, with the ball then going to Conor Jackson on first to end the inning. However, in the dugout afterward, Wilson got stick from his team-mates for not stepping on second and tagging the runner arriving from first for an even-rarer unassisted triple play. "That's what they all said. That just never crossed my mind. I thought I heard Felipe saying, 'Throw it, throw it,' and knew that we had the chance to get the outs there. That's something I don't think too many guys out there would think about."
May 26: Chris Young saves the day vs. SDP
This looked like another D-backs meltdown. With a 6-4 lead in the ninth, and Tony Pena and Chad Qualls both unavailable, the Padres loaded the bases with no outs against Juan Gutierrez. Scott Hairston hit into a double-play - a run scored and the tying man was at third with two down. Then Kevin Kouzmanoff latched onto a 95-mph fastball, smacking it to deep right-center. The pitcher said, "At first when he hit it, I put my hands up, and when I saw C.Y. running back and running back, I thought, 'Oh my God.'" However, Young, going at full-speed, was just able to track the ball down at the warning track, preserving victory for the Diamondbacks and Max Scherzer, who had pitched seven innings of two-run ball, as well as ending the Padres' 10-game win streak.
July 21: Mark Reynolds dives into the stands vs. COL [and just about everyone else]
If not getting quite as much coverage as his offensive explosion - or even his strikeouts - Reynolds' defense has improved by just about every metric at third-base this year. The errors are down significantly, and he was one of the most-seen players on Baseball Tonight's Web Gems [their awards show is on Monday, ESPN2, at 5pm AZ time]. Particularly in the second-half of the season, it seemed hardly a series went by without Mark landing on some poor/lucky spectator in the front row down the third-base side. The one linked above is perhaps the most impressive such example - but you can replace that play with this one. Or this one. Or even this one. Never say we don't give you choices here at the SnakePit....
July 28: Mark Reynolds, 481 ft. home-run vs. PHI
With Arizona 4-1 down in the ninth, Justin Upton drew a walk to lead off the inning and bring Mark Reynolds to the plate. Special K delivered his 28th home-run of the year, a titanic blast to left, which landed in Friday's Front Row. Initially estimated at 464 feet, the number was revised upwards by Hit Tracker Online to 481 feet - the second-longest home-run of the entire 2009 season, and tied for the longest in Chase Field history, matching the one hit by Justin Upton on July 6th, 2008. [In case you're wondering, the site gives Richie Sexson's Jumbotron shot a distance of 463 ft] It was Mark's most impressive bomb of 2009, one of fifteen over 440 feet, as he won the Golden Sledgehammer for the longest standard distance on his home-runs.
August 7: AJ Hinch gets ejected vs. WAS
It took a while before new manager AJ Hinch "popped his cherry" and got ejected from a game. However, when it happened, it was certainly memorable. Trent Oeltjen legged out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but was called out by first-base umpire Jerry Crawford. Hinch surged from the dugout and the two got into an impressive nose-to-nose argument, with the rookie manager doing a decent job of standing up to the 32-year veteran, who had probably thrown out more managers than AJ had made pitching changes. Also worth nothing was the backing Hinch got from some of his players: Reynolds described it after the game as "awesome," and Dan Haren chipped in with his vocal two cents from the dugout too.
September 26: Chad Tracy’s pinch-hit grand-slam vs. SDP
It wasn't a great year for Chad, and his future here is cloudy, to say the least, but he delivered a blow when we needed it most. He came off the bench with the bases loaded in the seventh and Arizona down by a run, to smack an 0-2 pitch off Luke Gregerson over the fence in right-center. It was the sole pinch-hit slam in the NL this year to turn a deficit into a lead [the other in the majors was by the Rays Ben Zobrist on April 17], and the first such in D-backs' franchise history - it was only the third PH slam of any kind for AZ, following ones by David Dellucci and Tony Clark. Said Tracy on the night, "It was awesome. I finally got a pitch I could handle... That's the first time I've had a curtain call. It's a pretty unbelievable feeling."