Last week, in a game against the Giants in San Francisco, Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado made a ridiculous catch on a foul popup by Gregor Blanco, catching the ball right as he collided with the tarp and ricocheted partway into the stands. Here’s a video:
Well, he’s at it again. Last night in another game against the Giants, this time in Colorado, Arenado made a diving stop of a ground ball down the line with runners on first and second and the game tied 3-3 in the fourth inning. Quickly recognizing that the ball was hit by the slow-footed Casey McGehee, Arenado hustled to step on third base and then fired a strong throw to first for a double play. McGehee hits into a lot of double plays, but this one’s not his fault:
Arenado is just a pleasure to watch, even if you happen to be a fan of a different team in the National League West (like me). Back in 2011, when Arenado was a prospect, people were not high on his defense. Prospect guru Keith Law had this to say:
He’s more “baseball athlete” than “true athlete,” a below-average runner with good hands and a strong arm but thick legs and slightly slow feet. To stay at third base, he’ll have to do everything right with his upper body to make up for what his lower half prevents him from getting, but he seems to have the work ethic and makeup to do it.
Law was not alone — that was the general consensus about Arenado, which means it was probably true. Whatever Arenado has done over the past few years to go from that assessment to the best defensive third baseman in baseball, it is truly remarkable.
If you need a little more, here’s an eight-minute compilation of some of his best plays of 2014: