Over the past week or so, we have offered up thirty different plays for your consideration, in six different categories. There were player-specific ones for Nick Ahmed and Jarrod Dyson, plus those open to other players, covering the infield, outfield, home-runs and double-plays. The winner of each has moved on to the final selection, which are presented below. There’ll be a poll over the next two days, with the overall winner being announced on Friday. This choice promises to be challenging, simply because of the increased difficulty of comparing very different styles of plays. Feel free to explain your criteria and reasoning in the comments, am curious to see what you think...
Dyson of the Year: 6/18, Dyson’s tremendous leaping grab
This proved to be a two-horse race, with his robbery of a former Diamondback just edging out, by a 43-37% margin, a not-dissimilar grab against another American League opponent earlier in the season, against the Astros in May. Perhaps the deciding factor was the reaction of the victim: Justin Upton clearly thought he had a grand-slam [J-Up’s shock is now available in GIF format, for future use...]. It was an amusing contrast to pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano, who demonstrated the archaic cliche of the “inscrutable Oriental” in action, acknowledging Dyson’s leap and snare with no more than the slightest inclination of his glove.
Ahmed of the Year: 7/22, Ahmed’s superb play ends game
This notched an overall majority of votes, at 56% getting twice as many as any other contender. The still-frame above perhaps highlights why. Ahmed launched himself at full extension, to snag a 95 mph screamer off the bat of Nolan Arenado, snagging the ball in the tip of his outstretched glove. Nick then got back to his feet, set himself and threw over to Paul Goldschmidt at first for the out, putting an exclamation point on the end of the D-backs’ 6-1 victory over the Rockies. Silvino Bracho’s reaction - crossing himself and pointing to the heavens - seemed a fitting tribute to the miraculous qualities of Ahmed’s Gold Glove caliber defense.
Infield play of the year: 8/18, Goldschmidt’s heads-up DP
Falling just short of a majority at 48%, I suppose this one perhaps could have been included in the category specifically devoted to double-plays. But those are more intended for collective efforts, and this one was all about Paul Goldschmidt - and in particular, his baseball smarts. For while this was perhaps the least athletic play Goldy had to make all year, it was the most demonstrative example of his quick thinking. It would have been easy and natural to the point of instinct to snare the popped-up bunt attempt for an out. But with the ball over near first-base, and the runner there forced to retreat, Paul’s lightning assessment allowed him instead to turn it into a twin killing and end the inning.
Home-run of the year: 5/1, Walker crushes a solo HR to the second deck
Close voting here, with three votes covering the top three. In the end, this edged out Chris Owing’s game-tying homer by a single ballot. Walker came to the majors with a rep as a power hitter, and there was no better demonstration of it than this, with an exit velocity of 114.4 mph and distance of 479 feet, providing an unexpected souvenir to Friday’s Front Row. It was the second-longest by a D-back since Statcast started tracking them in 2015, and all the more impressive because it came a) against Clayton Kershaw, and b) as a pinch-hitter. Said Walker, “To backspin a ball like that pull-side, it’s something special. It’s a unique feeling for me especially, but it’s always a good feeling when you hit a ball like that.”
Outfield play of the year: 6/16, Owings cuts down Nimmo at the plate in 6th
The tightest category of all, requiring me to exercise my executive authority and apply a tie-breaking vote, after there was a tie between this and Steven Souza’s grab at the wall. In the end, I went with Chris Owing’s bare-handed pick-up and perfect throw from center-field, one-hopping impeccably for John Ryan Murphy to apply a tag on the runner at home-plate. Such was the closeness of the play, any slight imperfection in Owings’s execution would likely have led to a run scoring, especially as the ball landed on his glove-side and he had to run around it before being able to pick it up. It was all the more impressive, considering CO is not a “natural” CF, and the throw was far longer than any he’d have to make on the infield.
Double-play of the Year: 7/25: Marte, Ahmed turn flashy DP
Owings the outfielder almost achieved a second nomination in this category, his double-play combo with Goldschmidt getting a respectable 33% of votes. But it was beaten by the amazing slick pairing of Ahmed and Ketel Marte shown above, which garnered 43% of the selections here. It showcased perfectly how well our middle infielders were in sync, with Marte doing a backhand shovel pass towards Ahmed, in a perfect spot for Nick to barehand it out of the air and throw over to Goldschmidt. It was not particularly hard-hit, and I’d have been happy if they’d simply got the force on the runner at second. But in the end, it turned out not even to be a particular close play at first.
What was the 2018 Diamondbacks’ Play of the Year?
This poll is closed
6/18, Dyson’s tremendous leaping grab
7/22, Ahmed’s superb play ends game
8/18, Goldschmidt’s heads-up DP
5/1, Walker crushes a solo HR to the second deck
6/16, Owings cuts down Nimmo at the plate in 6th
7/25: Marte, Ahmed turn flashy DP