Statcast™ shows the substance of Thursday's best plays
By Andrew Simon
There wasn't quite a full slate of games across the Majors on Thursday, but there still was no shortage of highlight-reel plays.
The day's crop included a couple of spectacular catches by rangy outfielders, some quick reflexes in the infield, an unorthodox home run and one of the most eye-popping 1-3-1 putouts you will ever see. Statcast™ was there to dissect each play with state-of-the-art tracking technology, and the findings are shown in the list below.
Mets pull off crazy 1-3-1 putout
Everything seems to be going right for the Mets these days, and that certainly was the case on an unusual play during their 13-inning, 9-5 win over the Phillies. With two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the 10th, Philadelphia's Jeff Francoeur connected on a pitch at 104.09 mph, sending it back at Mets reliever Carlos Torres, who took it off his left foot. The ball somehow ricocheted to the right side of the infield, where first baseman Daniel Murphy made a sliding stop. Murphy then sent an off-balance backhand flip to Torres, who came sprinting back across the infield at a top speed of 16.989 mph. Torres caught the feed and stepped on the bag an instant before Francoeur, who reached 18.987 mph on his 4.49-second trip to first.
Rendon makes nifty play to rob Gyorko
With Washington leading, 3-1, in the seventh, San Diego's Jedd Gyorko came to the plate as the potential tying run against reliever Casey Janssen. Gyorko's hard ground ball left his bat at 104.56 mph, traveling 98.135 feet down the third-base line in less than a second. But Rendon, who had shifted over from second base the inning before, showed off his quick reflexes by taking his first step in 0.286 seconds on his way to a diving stop. He then hopped up and zipped a 76.986 mph throw 112.911 feet across the diamond to retire Gyorko, as the Nats went on to win, 4-2.
Venable saves run with leaping grab
The Rangers held a 1-0 lead over the Blue Jays in the second inning, with Ben Revere on second base, when Cliff Pennington roped a liner into the left-center-field gap. Statcast™ projected that the ball would travel about 332 feet for what looked like a game-tying hit. But Will Venable, playing left field, took his first step only 0.325 seconds after contact and accelerated to a top speed of 19.573 mph in 4.496 seconds. Although Statcast™ measured his route efficiency at only 87.842 percent, Venable still was able to cover 87.452 feet and lay out for a full-extension grab as he raced out toward the warning track. That helped the Rangers eventually win the game, 4-1.
DeShields' Little League homer
In the bottom of the seventh inning of that same game, Texas still clung to a 1-0 lead. With two runners aboard, Delino DeShields hit what looked like a routine single to right field. But the ball rolled under the glove of Toronto's Jose Bautista, eventually traveling almost to the warning track, and the Rangers were off to the races. The fleetest of the group was DeShields -- the rookie outfielder reached a top speed of 20.546 mph as he came all the way around to score on the three-base error. The whole trip around the diamond took him 15.073 seconds, the fifth-fastest home run "trot" recorded by Statcast™ this season.
Upton Jr.'s over-the-shoulder catch
The Nationals were threatening to take a first-inning lead over the Padres as Ryan Zimmerman stepped to the plate against Andrew Cashner with runners on first and second and two outs. Zimmerman smacked a fly ball that left his bat at 101.15 mph and sailed 386.94 feet to center field. But San Diego's Melvin Upton Jr. took his first step in 0.346 seconds and reached a top speed of 19.504 mph as he chased the ball 89.645 feet, the greatest distance Statcast™ has recorded him covering on any play this year. Upton's route efficiency of 93.06 percent helped him pull the deep drive in with a Willie Mays-like over-the-shoulder basket catch.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.