Outfielder robs Moss with another highlight-reel grab
By August Fagerstrom
CLEVELAND -- Kevin Pillar is getting to know outfield walls all around Major League Baseball in his first season as an everyday player.
He became acquainted with the centre-field wall in Cleveland during the fifth inning of Thursday night's 5-1 win when Brandon Moss hit a deep fly and Pillar made a tremendous grab, crashing into the wall and saving a run with two outs and a runner on first. It halted a potential rally, as the Indians had already scored one that inning.
According to Statcast™ data, Pillar reached a top speed of nearly 18 miles per hour, as he traveled more than 85 feet to make a leaping catch. His route efficiency was graded at 96.2 percent.
"Well, first, I was mad that he caught it, because we're struggling to score runs and it's hard to get a hit at the right time," Moss said. "But then, I realized he ran into the wall. He had already caught the ball, so at that point, I was like, 'Man, is he all right?' You don't want a guy [to get hurt]. That's a dangerous play. Obviously, we all play hard, and that happens. You don't want a guy to get hurt, but I would've liked for him to drop the ball."
It's not the first time Pillar's made a sensational grab at the wall this year.
Of course, he knows his own wall at Rogers Centre pretty well. He scaled it like Spiderman to rob a Tim Beckham home run on April 15 against the Rays.
With all these violent catches at the wall, it's hard not to pause for concern.
But that recklessness is a part of what makes Pillar who he is, and manager John Gibbons isn't going to tell him to slow down anytime soon.
"Sometimes in this game you've got to play with reckless abandon," Gibbons said. "If he doesn't make a play like that, who knows what happens? That's what it takes. That's the kind of player he is. He was a very low Draft pick, a shot in the dark. He kept producing, and that's one of the reasons he got to the big leagues -- because he was willing to play some defence. You can't change that now."
August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.