MLB infielders have often shown the ability to make defensive plays with their bare hands.
On Monday night, however, Marlins outfielder Jesus Sanchez made an impressive bare-handed snag on a fly ball down the right field line.
The catch immediately brought baseball fans back to a similar catch made by Giants outfielder Kevin Mitchell back in 1989, when he caught a foul ball off the bat of Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith in the left field corner.
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How each play was made came about a bit differently. In the case of Mitchell, he was chasing after a fly ball that was over his head, but that he managed to snag with his outstretched right hand.
Sanchez, however, was running toward the right field wall in foul territory and over-ran the ball, needing to reach back out with his right hand to make the catch sans glove to record the out as Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas could only stare in disbelief.
“I was just running hard. Running really hard after the ball. I was trying to be very careful with the wall and I was looking at the wall, looking at the ball and then suddenly I look at the ball and I passed the ball completely. I didn’t have any reach with my left hand so I just pulled that right hand and suddenly I grabbed it,” Sanchez said through a translator. “I do feel comfortable in right field, but I think that I have a few things that I need to work on and keep working, improving, but I do feel very comfortable there.”
Even Marlins manager Don Mattingly agreed after the game that the catch looked reminiscent of the 1989 play.
“That catch reminded me of Kevin Mitchell. I think it was in San Fran, the (he) play made, but yeah Jesus makes it interesting,” Mattingly said.
Mitchell went on to win MVP that season, and while Sanchez certainly is not quite on that pace in 2021, he has been a standout rookie for the rebuilding Marlins. He has slashed .249/.317/.503 with 13 homers in 55 games. Among all MLB rookies, his 118 wRC+ ranks ninth.
And, of course, he plays impressive defense. According to Baseball Savant, his outfielder jump ranks in the 97th percentile among all outfielders and he has recorded three outs above average.
If anything, it seems Sanchez might have gotten too good of a jump on that fly ball.
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