Best catches in postseason history
Oct. 12, 2019
Perhaps some of the most memorable plays in October are made in the outfield. The range, speed and agility lead to some of the most exciting moments -- many of which are game- and season-saving. There has been a long line of players to make incredible, memorable catches in the
Perhaps some of the most memorable plays in October are made in the outfield. The range, speed and agility lead to some of the most exciting moments -- many of which are game- and season-saving.
There has been a long line of players to make incredible, memorable catches in the postseason. Here are the best catches in MLB playoff history.
Chris Taylor , Dodgers: 2018 NLCS, Game 7 With elimination on the line, Taylor made what could've been a game-changing catch in robbing Christian Yelich of what would've assuredly been a run-scoring extra-base hit during the fifth inning. Shaded to the far left, Taylor sprinted into the gap and made a leaping catch over his head and shoulders while avoiding a collision with Cody Bellinger at the warning track. The snag ended the inning and helped preserve the Dodgers' lead in their eventual 5-1 win.
Andrew Benintendi , Red Sox: 2017 ALCS, Game 4 Benintendi's catch would have been amazing no matter what the circumstances. He had a catch probability of just 21 percent on the play, according to Statcast™ -- a 5-star catch, the most difficult grade a play can have. But the situation took it to a whole different level: the postseason stage ... the game situation -- ninth inning, two outs, bases loaded, an AL MVP Award candidate in Alex Bregman at the plate, and Boston clinging to a two-run lead ... plus the all-or-nothing nature of the play -- if Benintendi dove and missed, three runs would have scored and the Red Sox would have lost.
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers: 2018 NLCS, Game 4 Just a day before Benintendi's catch, in the NLCS, Bellinger made a diving 5-star catch of his own during the Dodgers' 13-inning Game 4 win over the Brewers. With the game tied in the 10th, Bellinger robbed Lorenzo Cain in right-center field on a play that had a catch probability of just 17 percent. Bellinger finished the play with a swan-dive slide across the outfield grass.
Aaron Judge , Yankees: 2017 ALCS, Game 7 Judge doesn't just crush homers, he robs them, too. In the winner-take-all Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS, Judge took away a home run from the Astros' Yuli Gurriel at Minute Maid Park to keep the game scoreless in the second inning. Judge raced back to the right-field wall and got there just in time to leap above the fence and snag Gurriel's drive before it reached the seats.
Byron Buxton , Twins: 2017 AL Wild Card Game Buxton might be the best defensive outfielder in baseball, and in his first career postseason game he added another catch to his highlight reel. He gave up his body to make an unbelievable jumping catch to rob Todd Frazier while crashing into the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium. But he paid the price -- Buxton had to leave the game with a back injury.
Curtis Granderson , Mets: 2016 NL Wild Card Game The Mets have made some amazing catches in their postseason history. The most recent was Granderson's in center field in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game at Citi Field, when he went crashing into the wall after a long run to rob the Giants' Brandon Belt . Granderson's catch, with two outs in the sixth inning of a scoreless game, kept the go-ahead run off the board while Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner engaged in a pitchers' duel. He had a catch probability of just three percent, covering 102 feet in 5.5 seconds before going headlong into the wall.
Endy Chavez, Mets: 2006 NLCS, Game 7 One of the great catches in postseason history was consigned to irrelevance thanks to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright 's late-game heroics. But at the moment Chavez made his catch, it seemed there was no way the Mets could lose. With the winner-take-all Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Scott Rolen crushed what should have been a tiebreaking two-run homer to deep left at Shea Stadium. Chavez raced back to the wall and went high over the fence to bring the home run back with a snowcone grab at the very apex of his leap. To top it all off, he fired a throw back to the infield and the Mets doubled off Jim Edmonds at first.
Jim Edmonds, Cardinals: 2004 NLCS, Game 7 Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves in center field, and it was because of plays like this. With the Astros leading Game 7, 1-0, Brad Ausmus drove a ball deep into left-center field that could have brought home two more. But Edmonds, at full sprint away from home plate, laid out for a full-extension catch that defied belief. The Cardinals went on to win the game and the pennant.
Paul O'Neill, Yankees: 1996 World Series, Game 5 O'Neill helped kick off the late-1990s Yankees dynasty with a tough running catch in deep right-center field to end Game 5 of the '96 World Series against the Braves. With the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the ninth inning, O'Neill chased down Luis Polonia's long fly ball and snagged it with his arm fully outstretched, sealing a pivotal 1-0 win for the Bronx Bombers, as it gave them a 3-2 series lead. The Yanks would clinch the Fall Classic the next game and go on to win four World Series in the next five years.
Devon White, Blue Jays: 1992 World Series, Game 3 This catch drew comparisons to Willie Mays' iconic play in the 1954 World Series. With two Braves runners on base in the fourth inning of a scoreless game, White sprinted straight back into deep center field and jumped into the SkyDome wall to rob the David Justice of an extra-base hit with a brilliant catch. The Blue Jays even turned it into a double play -- and nearly a triple play, but umpire Bob Davidson ruled Kelly Gruber had missed the tag on Deion Sanders.
Kirby Puckett, Twins: 1991 World Series, Game 6 The Twins' 1991 World Series win was a classic full of memorable moments, and Puckett was responsible for two of them in Game 6. Eight innings before his walk-off home run in the 11th forced a Game 7, Puckett went airborne high over the wall to make a superhuman catch against the Plexiglas in left-center field at the Metrodome, robbing Ron Gant of extra bases.
Willie McGee, Cardinals: 1982 World Series, Game 3 As a rookie, McGee helped put the capper on St. Louis' World Series Game 3 win with a terrific home run-robbing catch in center field in the ninth inning. If Gorman Thomas' drive had cleared the wall, the Cardinals' lead would have been cut to two. McGee had also made another great catch earlier in the game, and he'd driven the offense with two home runs -- at the time becoming just the third rookie to homer twice in a World Series game.
Dwight Evans, Red Sox: 1975 World Series, Game 6 Carlton Fisk's iconic walk-off home run played such an integral part in propelling baseball forward from a televised standpoint, yet it might not have manifested if it weren't for Dwight Evans' miraculous catch in deep right field the inning prior. In the 11th, with Ken Griffey Sr. on first, Joe Morgan jacked one to deep right that Evans snagged on the run. The eight-time Gold Glove Award winner then flung the ball for the double play to end the inning, and Fisk, of course, sent Fenway Park into a frenzy in the 12th. Evans won eight Gold Glove Awards for many amazing catches over his 20-year career, but he's best remembered for his heroics that night.
Joe Rudi, A's: 1972 World Series, Game 2 In one of the most closely contested World Series ever -- only one of the seven games was decided by more than one run in the A's championship run -- Rudi's rob of Denis Menke in Game 2 stands out. With a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth, Menke connected on a middle-middle fastball that looked destined to reach the bleachers, but Rudi utilized every fiber of his 6-foot-2 frame to make a leaping catch at the wall that, had he missed, would've assuredly tied the game. It's worth noting that the wall at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium stood roughly 15 feet high, meaning that had the ball ricocheted, it would've traveled well back into the outfield. And Rudi made the catch while being blinded by the sun, as the World Series was still played primarily during the day and only began playing night games the season prior.
Ron Swoboda, Mets: 1969 World Series, Game 4 Tommie Agee, Mets: 1969 World Series, Game 3 The 1969 Miracle Mets' World Series run had many memorable moments, but from a defensive lens, three stand out the most. In Game 4 of their five-game series win against the heavily-favored Orioles, Ron Swoboda forever linked himself with his childhood hero, Brooks Robinson, when he robbed the Hall of Famer of a would-be go-ahead hit for extra bases in the top of the ninth, sliding inward in the right-center gap against the sun to prevent two runs from scoring. Robinson did drive in a runner on third on a sacrifice to send the game to extras -- where the Mets won on an error on an attempted sacrifice bunt -- but had Swoboda come up short, the series would've likely been tied at two games apiece.
In Game 3 -- the Mets' first at home in a World Series in club history -- the score may not have indicated a nail-biter, but Agee made two critical catches that directly saved five runs in the Mets' 5-0 win. Shaded well into right-center against pull-heavy Elrod Hendricks, Agee raced across the Shea Stadium outfield into left and made a back-handed, snowcobed grab on Hendricks' line while running into the wall. Then in the seventh, with the bases loaded with two outs for Paul Blair, Agee again made an incredible catch in the gap; this time running to his right while diving in front of the warning track and batting the wind. For good measure, Agee also hit a leadoff run homer that day.
Bobby Richardson, Yankees: 1962 World Series, Game 7 The Giants may have moved to San Francisco by 1962, but their once crosstown rivalry with the Yankees remained when they met in the '62 World Series. In the first Fall Classic featured by the Bay, the Giants were on the cusp of a ninth-inning comeback in Game 7 with runners on second and third in a 1-0 game with two outs. But Willie McCovey's offensive struggles that series reached a pinnacle when he hit a bullet to second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the game.
Sandy Amoros, Dodgers: 1955 World Series, Game 7 The Dodgers' first World Series title may not have manifested if it weren't for their shrewd defense against the slugging Yankees, who were shut out for just the sixth time that season in Brooklyn's 2-0 win. The Yanks were threatening in the sixth with one out and runners on first and second when Yogi Berra popped one down the left-field foul line, but an athletic snag by Amoros and a cross-field throw doubled up Gil McDougald to halt any rally.
Willie Mays, Giants: 1954 World Series, Game 1 Mays' legendary grab is probably the most iconic in baseball history. Mays made what is still widely referred to as The Catch (it even has its own Wikipedia page). In a 2-2 game with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, Mays raced back through the Polo Grounds' quirky yet cavernous outfield to make an over-the-shoulder snag that was one of the hallmark moments in their 1954 World Series sweep over the Indians.
Al Gionfriddo, Dodgers: 1947 World Series, Game 6 Gionfriddo, a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers, entered as a defensive replacement in the sixth with Brooklyn holding an 8-5 lead over the Yankees in Game 6. The Yankees put two men on with two out and Joe DiMaggio came up as the tying run. Joltin' Joe smashed a deep fly ball to left-center that seemed sure to send the crowd of 74,000 at Yankee Stadium into a frenzy, but Gionfriddo tracked it down against the bullpen's chain-link fence to help preserve a Dodgers victory. The Yanks ultimately prevailed with a 5-2 win in Game 7.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_ .
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler .