It may be a bit odd to declare that a player with a .287/.345/.533 line and 279 home runs is more known for his glove than his bat, but St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado keeps giving us reasons to think like that.
Let’s just say he is perhaps MLB’s best two-way player (offensive and defensive prowess) together with Manny Machado.
He is enjoying a fine 2022 season at the plate, with a .272/.344/.485 line, 10 home runs, and 39 RBI.
But what he did on Tuesday while he was fielding his position may be an early candidate for the play of the year.
OH MY NOLAN 🤯 pic.twitter.com/IDsvFIhfva
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 8, 2022
The Cardinals ended up losing anyway, thanks to Taylor Walls‘ walk-off home run, but Arenado made sure to give his team a chance.
Arenado’s Defensive Awareness And Throwing Arm Were On Display
In the bottom of that tenth inning, and with no outs on the scoreboard, the Rays attempted a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner the third.
That run would tie the ballgame, because St. Louis was up 2-1 at that moment.
Brett Phillips‘ sac bunt was not bad per se, but Arenado anticipated the play, raced towards the ball, and made a perfect throw to third base to get the lead runner out.
It was an incredible play that combined many of Arenado’s attributes: speed, awareness, instincts, throwing arm strength, and accuracy.
The throw, an absolute dart that didn’t require the player covering third base to make any adjustments, was made off-balance, too.
It’s not a coincidence that Arenado has won nine Gold Glove awards in the hot corner, from 2013 to 2021.
If this play is any indication, he is an early contender for the 2022 award, as well.