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2020 SnakePit Awards - Play of the Year: Josh Rojas trips “awkwardly”

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Sorry, ‘hacks. #NotSorry

With almost 85% of the vote, this was one of the largest landslides in the history of the award. Here’s how the results broke down. Any resemblance to a lime-flavored Pacman is purely coincidental.

Some slight acknowledgement of Eduardo Escobar’s clutch homer, and Kole Calhoun putting it all on the line, but there’s really only one winner here. So, let’s go to the tape.

The play

Firstly, I think it’s the sheer speed of the play which is impressive. The ball had an exit velocity off Corey Seager’s bat of 102.4 miles per hour, and although it probably lost a bit as it glanced off the side of the mound, that also changed its direction, making Rojas being able to grab the ball even more impressive. Admittedly, he was probably helped by Mookie Betts taking off from first with the pitch, which caused Rojas to be already moving towards second to cover, and thus better positioned for his snag. But here’s something also worth considering. It was Rojas’s first-ever game at shortstop in the major leagues. Even over his minor-league career, he had only 227 innings experience there.

It also happened so fast that second-base umpire Doug Eddings - standing maybe ten feet away and with literally one job to do - failed to see Rojas tap-dancing over the bag, initially calling Betts safe. The same goes for the commentators watching it unfold live. Neither of them initially spotted what had happened. Bob Brenly was the first to think that something was up, but initially wondered if Rojas had caught the ball on the fly. Interesting, though, to note that Christian Walker, at first-base, appeared to be jogging back towards the dugout after catching the throw from Rojas.

The reaction

“It all happened kind of fast. It was kind of just an instinct play. I reached for the ball and thought the only chance of us getting two is if I could get my foot on the bag as I was catching it. I was reaching for the ball and trying to keep my foot on the bag; I ended up dragging my toe... Even on the scoreboard, it was kind of slow-mo’ed. I just got to watch the replay live at full speed after the game and I realized how cool it was. The coolest part was, first and third, if we don’t get a double play there, run scores and they take a lead. That was what I was most pumped about at the moment. We got to save the run, keep the game tied and give our offense a chance.”
Josh Rojas

The play was greeted with almost universal acclaim. Steve Gilbert (MLB.com) called it “impressive”, while Kellan Olson (Arizona Sports) went with “incredible.” In our recap, Dano described it as “absolutely stellar... a thing of beauty”. Meanwhile, the TikTok video of it received over 32,000 likes, and the /r/baseball thread saw the play receive the following plaudits - all from neutral (or even Dodger!) fans, please note:

  • “unreal, great play”
  • “web gem of the year candidate”
  • “that was sick”
  • “Impressive as hell.”
  • “4D play holy fuck”
  • “Absolutely incredible situational awareness”

Almost universal acclaim. Of course, there’s always one... and it’s usually ‘hacks. :)

Previous winners