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2013 AZ SnakePit Awards: Play of the Year

Put on your tuxedo or evening gown, because it's time to start the 2013 'Pitties! We begin with the five nominees in the category 'Play of the Year', as usual, to be decided by popular vote. And the envelope, please...

5/17: Paul Goldschmidt 13th-pitch homer

There was an article on Fangraphs a while ago which talked about Paul Goldschmidt in 3-2 counts. He saw more pitches than anyone bar Joey Votto, and his production in that situation was unsurpassed. Only four home-runs in the National League were hit this year, after the 10th pitch of an at-bat: Goldschmidt had two of them. On May 7th, he took the Dodgers' Brandon League deep on the 11th pitch, and ten days later, he finished off an even longer at-bat against the Marlins' Kevin Slowey, depositing the 13th offering into the bleachers, after fouling off seven with two strikes. [Poor Gregorius, running wind-sprints off first!] It's the only 13th-pitch home-run in franchise history.

6/9: Gerardo Parra's bare-hand force

We could fill an entire list with Parra highlights... Oh, hang on: we did. In a season of many highlights, entirely justifying his second Gold Glove, this was my favorite - a man on first is erased on the force by the right-fielder. How often does that happen? Admittedly, it was the pitcher running, but it wasn't even close at second. What's great is the way Parra was playing for it, from the moment he realized he wasn't going to be able to catch the ball on the fly. You can see him already getting his body in position, so that he when he grabs the ball, the Parrazooka can fire immediately. I think, one of these days, an opposing hitter is going to ground into the old 9-4-3 double-play.

8/7: Didi Gregorius DP from his back

Gregorius came to us with a reputation as a slick-fielding shortstop and lived up to that. His August 27 catch is one of the nominees on for their Play of the Year Gibby [but Yasiel Puig is also nominated, so no chance there, because fans know an impressive, exciting play when they see one]. But I prefer this play from earlier in the month, which is just all-round awesome. Even getting to the ball was impressive enough: but to be able to get enough on your throw, from a really awkward position, and make it accurate enough to get the out at second, was incredible. Credit to Aaron Hill as well, on the pivot, for getting rid of the ball quickly enough to complete the twin killing.

8/14: Brad Ziegler duly Ziegles

Pitching outs may be less spectacular, but are often no less important, and none was bigger than this example from the 10th inning against Baltimore (starts at the 1:07 mark above). With the scores tied, Brad Ziegler came on to a two on, one out situation and got a ground-ball. Unfortunately, it was into the hole at shortstop and Gregorius wasn't able to duplicate the feat above, putting the go-ahead run on third, still with one out. Of course, Ziegler then got another ground-ball and this one was smoothly converted into an inning-ending double-play, worth +34.8% in Win Probability, and the D-backs went on to win 5-4 in 14 innings.

8/27: Martin Prado saves the game

As mentioned earlier, you could argue this wasn't even the best play made by a Diamondback in this game, which was also the one that saw Didi's sprawling dive in the outfield, a GIBBY nominee. But the context of this one enhanced its brilliance, as it came with the bases-loaded in the ninth inning of a tied game, after San Diego had already scored twice to tie things up. If Prado hadn't made the catch of that screaming bullet down the line, at least two runs would certainly have scored, and in all probability the game would have been lost as a result. Instead, the game remain tied, giving Arizona the chance to win it in the 10th.

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