By any measure, this was not a stellar defensive Yankees team. They were no 2005 squad, but they were no transformative team either. They had the highest defensive efficiency in baseball, so that does count for something. Whether it was because of making the plays you had to, or because of pitchers inducing weak contact, the Yankees were able to convert batted balls to outs. Just like with home runs, we’re going to take a look back at the top defensive plays of 2017.
1.Aaron Hicks, September 26th
After missing a bunch of time in the middle of the season, Hicks finally returned in a crucial match-up against the Tampa Bay Rays, a stretch in which they would need to win most of their remaining games to make the postseason (they did). Hicks played a big part here, robbing Wilson Ramos of a grand slam in the first inning of the game. They would go on to win 6-1.
2.Jacoby Ellsbury, May 24th
Jacoby Ellsbury SLAMS HARD into the wall to record the first out of the game, now on YES and Fox Sports Go. pic.twitter.com/2jbMtVgBWB— YES Network (@YESNetwork) May 24, 2017
It was one of the best defensive plays of the year, but at what cost? Ellsbury made an amazing play, slamming into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium. He ultimately suffered a concussion on the play and played just 112 games this season. Regardless of what Ellsbury can provide in the future, he still has the ability to make this play.
3.Aaron Judge, October 8th
With the Yankees facing elimination in ALDS Game Three, Aaron Judge made arguably the most important catch of his career thus far. He robbed Francisco Lindor of a two-run home run; and, most satisfyingly of all, he robbed Zack Hample of a home run ball. It saved the game and it saved the series, and it gave us some of the best images of the postseason.
4.Aaron Judge, October 16th
Even though the Yankees did not win the series, there was at least one bright spot: another great catch from Judge. It’s funny that this part of his game was so underrated; his sheer size gives him the ability to snag cheap home runs from over the wall. He stole yet another, this time against Yuli Gurriel. They ultimately won this game by a wide margin, but I’ve never seen a player completely defeat a wall like in that moment.
5.Aaron Judge, October 20th
Yet another disappointing game, but another amazing defensive play from Judge. In fact he steals another home run from Gurriel, with CC Sabathia also on the mound. I’m still imagining the alternate reality where this wins him the ALCS MVP.
What were your favorite defensive plays from the season?