David Fletcher probably isn’t going to win any MVP awards, but the Angels’ Swiss Army knife defender and leadoff man’s jaw-dropping play at shortstop Saturday was named the MLB Play of the Week.
“You have to say it’s as good as you’ve ever seen,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Fletcher’s play against the Dodgers to rob Mookie Betts of a hit.
See for yourself.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 17, 2020
Fletcher has been filling in for three-time Gold Glove winner Andrelton Simmons at short since Simmons went on the injured list July 27. Fletcher’s defense has been outstanding, but Saturday’s play was extra special.
Betts, the Dodgers’ speedy leadoff man, hit a sharp one-hopper in the hole that Fletcher ranged about 10 feet to his right to snag on his backhand.
Then, after crossing over onto the left-field grass, and in nearly the same motion, Fletcher unloaded a blind arching throw of more than 150 feet across his body and counter his momentum.
The baseball arrived in the glove of first baseman Tommy La Stella just in time to beat Betts by a half-step. The Dodgers challenged but the out was upheld by replay.
On the play, Betts was clocked by Statcast as running 29.6 feet per second, only a shade below elite sprint speed.
Maddon was still shaking his head at the amazing play afterwards.
“Honestly, everybody’s into hyperbole, but that one there, I don’t know if I’ve seen that one,” Maddon said. “My comment in the dugout was, normally a shortstop has to jump on that play … plant his foot and somehow … you know, you’ve seen Derek Jeter do it a thousand times, and others.
“I’ve never seen it done (running) like that. I’ve had Javy Baex, and he’s done some crazy things, but that thing there … not only that, but the accuracy on the throw and the carry. Everything about it.”
Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was pitching, was also stunned.
“Just an amazing play,” Heaney said. “Mookie can run, too. To be able to throw out a guy with that much speed is just a great play.”
In his third season with the Angels, Fletcher has played four games at third base in 2020 and 18 at short while providing top-notch cover for Simmons.
Fletcher, a natural shortstop and Orange County native who starred at Loyola Marymount University is also an elite defensive second baseman, where he’s played 85 games. Fletcher has even played 28 games in the outfield.
Going into Monday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants, Fletcher is batting an even .300 with 27 hits and three home runs from the leadoff spot.
The MLB defensive Play of the Week is presented by Chevrolet.