Kevin Pillar’s Catch Named Runner-Up on ‘Plays of Year’ List
It’s easy to forget things which happened during the Blue Jays’ 2018 season. In the midst of a contending year, it’s much simpler to remember seminal moments. During an 89 loss season? Not so much.
I myself had to go back in the mental database to recall one of the most impressive defensive plays put on by a Blue Jays outfield this past season; Kevin Pillar‘s wall-leaping grab from Canada Day against the Detroit Tigers.
The play was so impressive that it cracked MLB Network’s list as one of the “Top 100 Plays of 2018″. Where did Pillar’s home run-robbing catch land on the list?
Pillar’s play came runner-up to Ramón Laureano’s catch and impressive throw from the outfield.
Since the Rogers Centre’s outfield wall stretches 10 feet high, I’m always impressed when an outfielder comes remotely close to bringing a ball back from the yard. Pillar has successfully robbed home runs on two occasions now.
While his catch from May of 2015 is slightly more impressive, the degree of difficulty on plays like these cannot be understated.
Kevin Pillar's home run-robbing catches – 2015 vs 2018. pic.twitter.com/vCa6S63pRh
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) July 2, 2018
A typical home run catch requires an outfielder to time their jump once. In the case of a taller outfield wall like the Rogers Centre’s, the outfielder has to time their catch twice; once for their initial jump and then a second time when they plant their foot on the wall to propel them higher.
Shoutout to Randal Grichuk who cracked the Top 25 with his home run-robbing catch against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. His catch should arguably be higher on this list considering that Grichuk had to fend off half-a-dozen fans to make that play.
Pillar took a slight step backwards defensively in 2018, but in his six years as a Blue Jay, he’s proven for better or worse that he’s willing to dive for anything in the outfield.