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2019 SnakePit Play of the Year: The finalists

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Homers. Dives. Throws. Stops. We have them six of the best.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The qualifiers for Play of the Year have been completed, and it was fascinating to see what made it through. We actually have six candidates, despite there being four categories. One was a tie which even I wasn’t willing to decide, so I sent both plays through (as we’ll see, two more polls were also decided by incredibly slim margins). We also have a “wild-card” candidate, nominated in the comments of one of the post, which the judging committee i.e. me, decided was worthy of inclusion. Here are the six candidates for discussion. This choice promises to be a lot harder, since we’re now going across categories: how do you compare a home-run to a diving stop? Tell us in the comments...

Walker starts a DP in the 9th (08/31)

Christian Walker makes a diving stop on a grounder by Matt Beaty, then throws to second to start a double play, with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning.

This was the only clear-cut winner, getting more than half the votes in the infield (right side) category. While Walker’s name is in the headline, and got things started with a great stop, this was very much a team effort. Nick Ahmed corralled a slightly wayward throw on the pivot, and fired a laser back to Archie Bradley, who had hustled across to cover first-base. The timing couldn’t have been better either. For the Dodgers had loaded the bases against Bradley on two hits and a walk, putting the tying run in a then 6-4 game in scoring position, with no outs. Even though a run scored on this play, the twin killing was worth +30% in Win Probability, and a ground-out to Ahmed allowed Bradley to escape with the save

Marte’s inside-the-park HR (08/04)

Ketel Marte smashes an inside-the-park home run past Gerardo Parra in center field to give the D-backs a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 3rd

Walker just missed a second nomination. His go-ahead grand-slam coming runner-up by a couple of votes. Like all inside-the-parkers, there was some luck to this, though Marte struck it on the screws, with an exit velocity of 106.5 mph from an offering by former team-mate Patrick Corbin. But once it got past Gerardo Parra’s failed dive, it took the perfect carom off a centerfield corner, rolling away from the covering left-fielder, to die just in front of the wall. Said Marte, “Once I was rounding second and I saw [Tony Perezchica] giving me the green light, still I thought, ‘OK, this might actually happen.’” A good throw might have had a different outcome, but the relay sailed high and Marte was able to dodge the tag.

Locastro’s stellar diving grab (07/21)

Tim Locastro races into foul territory in left field and lays out to make a sensational diving catch

Perhaps a bit of a surprise in this category, considering that Jarrod Dyson dominated the nominations, in much the same way Ahmed did on the left-hand side of the infield. If you added all three of his candidates together, they’d have won, totaling 53 percent of the votes. But that’s not how it works, and so Locastro was able to swoop in and steal victory, topping the poll with 36%. It’s perhaps appropriate that the man who also set a franchise record for getting hit by pitches, would be recognized for a head-first dive into the wall in foul territory. It could have gone horribly wrong, especially considering his near-escape velocity. But Locastro never plays the game at less than 110%, and that’s why we love him.

Greinke’s HR off Kershaw (06/24)

Zack Greinke drills a solo home run off Clayton Kershaw, giving the D-backs a 4-3 lead in the 2nd inning

This was a nominee in the comments of the home-run post, and it’s certainly one which deserved inclusion in that category. Indeed, on reflection, it had a good enough shot at winning, that it’s getting an executive wild-card entry. It’s not the only home-run by an Arizona pitcher. It’s actually #29 there. But how many others came off a Cy Young winner? Just one: Dan Haren taking Chris Carpenter deep in 2010 (one of Dan’s favorite moments). How many other pitchers have homered off Kershaw? Two: MadBum has a pair, plus Tyson Ross. I think Zack, who takes enormous pride in his batting, will not have had a more satisfying moment in his time with Arizona, than going yard off his former team-mate.

Ahmed nabs Kingery after review (06/12)

Nick Ahmed makes an incredible diving stop and fires to get Scott Kingery after a challenge overturns the call at first in the 7th

There’s a reason Nick Ahmed has won consecutive NL Gold Gloves. We could have simply filled these candidates entirely with Ahmed plays. And that was reflected in his dominance of the Infield (left side) category. He took the top three spots, combining to receive 82% of picks. But separating the candidates was almost impossible, with only a single vote to separate the trio of Ahmed web-gems. This first one took a review. For even the first-base umpire was apparently unable to believe that Nick not only pulled off a fabulous stop, with the ball almost behind him, but was then able to get enough on his throw, to allow Christian Walker to record the out.

Ahmed’s diving stop (03/31)

Nick Ahmed makes an incredible diving stop and then fires to first in time for the out in the bottom of the 6th inning

Finishing tied with the above Ahmed-tastic play, this one perhaps should have been included in the “right side” infield category - considering that’s where Ahmed is when he makes this play. It would probably have won there too, but let’s not let him dominate ALL the categories. :) At least in terms of the throw, this was perhaps slightly easier than the one above, as due to the shift, Ahmed was more or less in the second-base position when he let go of the ball. But what’s particularly impressive is the ground he covered to get there. Watch the replay version, from behind home-plate, and look in particular at where Ahmed is standing when the pitch is delivered. Yet he still got to the ball.

Poll

What was the 2019 D-backs Play of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Walker starts a DP in the 9th (08/31)
    (16 votes)
  • 15%
    Marte’s inside-the-park HR (08/04)
    (15 votes)
  • 9%
    Locastro’s stellar diving grab (07/21)
    (9 votes)
  • 20%
    Greinke’s HR off Kershaw (06/24)
    (20 votes)
  • 28%
    Ahmed nabs Kingery after review (06/12)
    (28 votes)
  • 10%
    Ahmed’s diving stop (03/31)
    (10 votes)
98 votes total Vote Now