There's a reason the third base position is called the hot corner, and there's no doubt Brett Lawrie does a fantastic job manning that spot for the Toronto Blue Jays. But sometimes it's those not so well hit balls that cause the most trouble, and end up handcuffing even the most elite of defenders. We saw an example of one of those plays on Friday night at Rogers Center, and to the credit of Lawrie, he ended up recovering and turning it into one of the more unusual defensive gems we've seen this season.
It happened in the eighth inning with Toronto holding a 3-2 lead over the Kansas City Royals. On the 3-2 pitch with one oout and a runner on first, Billy Butler would hit a high chopper that sounded like it hit home plate and then bounced in Lawrie's direction. As Lawrie charged aggressively he realized he wasn't going to get to the ball before the second hop, so quickly applied the brakes and then hopped in anticipation of the ball taking another high bounce off the turf.
I think he had the right idea, but the ball certainly didn't take the bounce he expected. That's where being extremely athletic worked in Lawrie's favor, because he was able to adjust to that hop in mid-air, snatch the ball with his barehand, and make a throw across the diamond before his feet touched back down.
That's right, he went through that entire three-part process in one flawless motion, and his throw to first base was actually in time to get Butler by half a step.
It was a crazy good play, even if it looked a bit awkward due to the unpredictability of how the ball would react off the turf. Just think of all the tools he needed to pull it off. It took hand-eye coordination. It took awareness to understand how quickly he had to get rid of the ball. And most of all, it took remarkable strength and athleticism to get off such a good throw from that position.
It won't necessarily go down as the prettiest, but it is, without question, one of the best plays we've seen in 2013.