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Big League Stew

Rick Ankiel’s throw earns a standing ovation, spot on his growing highlight reel (VIDEO)

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Since his conversion to the outfield, former pitcher Rick Ankiel has made plenty of highlight shows for gunning down runners with unbelievable throws. In addition to many others, there were the two rockets he unleashed in one game at Coors Field in 2008 and  this one at Great American Ballpark in 2011.

The reputation of Ankiel's mighty left arm has grown so much that he 1) regularly freezes runners at their current station regardless of how deep he's playing in the outfield  and 2) can now make the highlight reels and garner standing ovations from a buzzing Nationals Park crowd without actually throwing anyone out.

Watch as the Washington Nationals center fielder fires a throw home in Monday's 6-3 win over the Astros. His Houston counterpart Jordan Schafer never even considers leaving third to tag up and score — a wise move since Ankiel's throw never touches the ground before reaching Wilson Ramos about 300 feet away.

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Ankiel later said in the Washington Post that the throw "came out clean" while third baseman Ryan Zimmerman attributed Schafer staying put to it being "kind of predetermined not to test Rick out."

Of course, one of the best parts of the video is that the ball crosses home plate — or at least came darn close to it — which is something Ankiel struggled to do from 6o feet, 6 inches when he was a highly touted pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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But good for Ankiel for hatching one of the best second acts in baseball history, building a reputation that really does the unthinkable when it forces the phenomenal arm of teammate Stephen Strasburg into the background for a night.

"I would have called it a strike, that's for sure," the Nats ace told reporters after the game.

A strike in more ways that one, that is.

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