Saturday 18 August 2012

Top of the 7th: Flyout, LF (Deep Left)

A great catch is like watching girls go by; the last one you see is always the prettiest. - Bob Gibson

I'm going to go back in time a little bit here, but only about a week, to August 12th, 2012. (This blog is a labour of love, and other labours have not allowed me the time to come to this earlier.) It was in the 7th inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays held a comfortable 6 run lead over the visiting New York Yankees. Casey McGehee was the second batter in the inning, Curtis Granderson having reached base on an infield single.

McGehee launched a 2-0 pitch from Brad Lincoln over the head of Rajai Davis in left field.

To really understand what happened next, we have to add a little bit of context to Rajai Davis and his playing style. Two days earlier, Davis lost a ball in the lights at his home park, which is not unheard of, but certainly unusual. He often takes a wrong first step on fly balls, but uses his blazing running speed to overcome most of his mistakes. His throwing arm is unremarkable, which is why he is in left field, as Colby Rasmus represents a superior option in centre. Davis often appears just a bit indecisive in the outfield. He's certainly a step up from Eric Thames, and worlds apart from Adam Lind, but how he will play the bounce on a ball over his head is always a lingering question.

So, confronted with a ball that was clearly over his head, he did this:

Now, that's just amazing. No hoping for the bounce, just a flat out go-get-the-homer-and-bring-it-back. Really. At the former Skydome. Now, at first glance, you might think this is a lot like Mike Trout, Rookie of the Decade, and his home run robbing catch.

I wouldn't blame you for that assumption. It would be less than accurate, however. These are two different fences entirely. Rogers Centre has walls that are very high, due to the high bounces off a springy turf. Bigger bounces means more ground rule doubles. The outfield walls are so high that Josh Reddick fielded a flyball holding onto the chain link fence.

Josh Reddick: "Spiderman" Catch

Reddick climbed the wall, and he still isn't in homer-stealing territory. How much height did Davis need to get to steal a home run? Let me show you.

Still not sure what I'm talking about? Here is a screengrab of Trout overlaid on top of Davis, scaled with the bottom of each fence at the same location. Trout is the 'ghost' in the image.

Now, go back and watch again, and you'll see Rajai slow right down to time the jump. There is a method to this madness, and I am in awe of his ability to think out and execute this extremely difficult move. It stands a step above in every way.

Which is why I think in this one shining moment, Rajai Davis deserves every comment like this:

And, especially, this:

You can read another take on this from the Blue Jay Hunter.  And there's also a catch-related poll at the bottom of this Media Mashup on Bluebird Banter.

If levitation like that isn't magical enough for you, I don't know what is.

No comments:

Post a Comment