The Yankees haven’t ever really been known as a strong defensive team, but the team’s fielding improved big-time this year. Guys like DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela and Cameron Maybin were added, each of whom brought Gold Glove-caliber defense to the team. Add in contributions from Gleyber Torres, Didi Gregorius and the ever-steady Brett Gardner, and you’ve got a sneaky-good defensive team.
But which plays reign supreme? Here are the top five defensive plays from the Yankees’ season:
5. Gio Urshela in general
Where do you even begin with Gio Urshela? After the Yankees suffered through poor third base defense for much of the past decade, Urshela brought new life to the hot corner, making stellar plays almost daily.
It was impossible to pick just one Urshela play, so enjoy the seven-minute highlight compilation below and relive Urshela’s best moments!
4. Cameron Maybin robs a dinger
Cameron Maybin was an amazing find for the Yankees this season. At age 32, Maybin proved he still had life with the bat and in the field, and this play stands out as one of his best.
With the Yankees already down two runs in a rough J.A. Happ start, things could’ve gotten worse with what looked to be a three-run home run off the bat of Jonathan Schoop. Instead, Maybin came flying in, robbing Schoop of a home run and keeping the Yankees in the game.
Who knows what the future holds for Maybin, but he has earned a Major League contract somewhere this coming offseason.
3. Mike Tauchman robs another dinger
Who doesn’t love a good home run robbery? This one came right around the peak of Tauch-Mania, in a game where the Sock Man both hit a home run and robbed one. This play is the latter, where Tauchman got up to steal a home run from the Orioles.
Tauchman was solid all year, but that three-week span where he played over his head in late July likely earned him a spot with the big club in 2019.
2. Aaron Judge throws out Alex Bregman
The 2019 ALCS wasn’t the most memorable series for the Yankees, but Game One became one of my personal favorite postseason wins. In what became a 7-0 thrashing of the Astros, Judge made a huge defensive play when it was still just a 1-0 lead.
First, Judge made a nice running catch, then he caught Alex Bregman sleeping while making a strong throw to first base. In what became a disappointing postseason, Judge made one of his signature plays in Game One of the ALCS.
1. Aaron Hicks ends thriller with diving catch
How could any other play be number one? A random July series against the Minnesota Twins became a thriller due to two dynamic offenses, and ultimately a Yankees Classic.
After several lead changes, the Yankees were clinging to a 14-12 lead in the 10th inning, but the Twins were looking to strike. They loaded the bases with two outs, and Max Kepler hit a frozen rope to left-center field that looked like it could win the game for Minnesota.
Instead, Aaron Hicks reminded the Twins exactly what they traded away in 2016 by making the catch of his life. Hicks raced over 100 feet to close the gap, then laid out at maximum extension to secure the ball with his back turned to home plate. Ballgame over, Yankees win.