The second poll, for Pitcher of the Year, saw another two-horse race, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke the only candidates to reach double-digit percentages. In the end, it was the Cub who beat out the Dodger, by a margin of 49% to 37%; I wonder whether an (natural, and perfectly understandable) aversion to Los Angeles Dodgers in general, and Zack Greinke in particular, perhaps played into final voting? Still, be interesting to see whether the real National League Cy Young award, which will be announced by the time this is published, reflects a similar result.
Moving on to our third category, we had the preliminary voting for this one a while back, picking out a staggering twenty plays (there could easily have been more), and voting for them in four groups. The winner of each, along with the highest-scoring runner-up, have made it through to this final round, although one of those nominated is technically not eligible for the SB Nation prize, because it is for defensive plays only, while the AZ SnakePit award is open to any play of any kind. Still, this is me not particularly bothered by that. So, let's get on with the five nominees and, as before, vote in the poll and make your case in the comments!
There was always the chance for something special when Paul Goldschmidt stepped to the plate, and there was no more special play than on May 22. The D-backs had taken a game at Chase Field into extra innings, but Addison Reed allowed two runs in the top of the tenth, then David Peralta and Ender Inciarte grounded out to start the bottom half. But then, A.J. Pollock doubled, allowing Goldschmidt to come to the plate as the tying run. He was down to his last strike, but then this happened, and the D-backs went on to win the game in 13 innings.
The departure of Andrelton Simmons from the National League for the Los Angeles Angels perhaps opens the door for our slick-fielding shortstop to get some Gold Glove consideration in 2016. For there were numerous plays this year that were the equal of those made by Simmons. Few showcased Ahmed's range and agility better than this on; "the hole" is so called because it's usually where balls get hit through the infield, but not in this case. Even getting to the ball was impressive; then being able to get enough on the throw for the out at first. was even more so.
More from Ahmed? Oh, if you insist... [If you care to imagine it, I'm making a gesture here usually reserved for being offered a second helping of turkey on Thanksgiving Day!] In this case, he adjusted on the fly after a ground-ball ricocheted off the pitcher's mound, to make a diving stop, then flipping from his belly to the second baseman for a force. If only we'd been able to complete the DP.... Still, extra credit for the victim of this defensive brilliance being Ryan Braun, who had a hit taken away, and still remains one of D-backs fandom's most-hated players.
We've seen this kind of thing before. Indeed, two years ago, Gerardo Parra won the 'Pittie for this category, with a not dissimilar play, forcing out a runner at second-base after a bloop dropped just in front of him. This one could be considered even more impressive, as Parra's victim was the opposing pitcher. In this case, it was a genuine position player who received the delivery of an express Inciartegram, Yuniel Escobar of the Washington Nationals being the victim of an embarrassing 9-5 putout. He may not be the last...
There are reasons why A.J. Pollock joined Paul Goldschmidt on the Gold Glove trail this year, and there was probably no better example of why it was well-deserved than this play, as he robbed a homer from Giants' pinch-hitter Jarrett Parker. The ever-modest Pollock had this to say: "Just kind of had him shaded over there and he put a good swing on it and went with the pitch, got close to the fence and my steps were right. Sometimes I mess up the steps and slam into the wall. It just kind of all came together, so it was nice." Nice. Yeah. No kidding, A.J.