Kevin Kiermaier is the epitome of going all out. If he draws a walk, he flips his bat and sprints to first, a practice that he's been doing since college. If he hits a ground ball out of the infield, he usually tries for a double, thanks to explosive speed, which helps both his offense and defense.
Since the beginning of last season, Kiermaier is tied for first in the major leagues in triples. The person he's tied with, Adam Eaton, has nearly 250 more plate appearances during that span. His speed actually gets him in trouble sometimes as he runs so hard that he occasionally overslides bases and has to work to maintain contact with the base.
If you were to go to mlb.com and search for Kevin Kiermaier, on about a third of the videos you'd see a thumbnail of Kiermaier laying out to make yet another ridiculous catch. As Kiermaier progressed through the Rays organization, scouts raved about his defensive capabilities ranking him as the best defender in the system. He's certainly proved them right as he's currently the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball, thanks to his consistently awe-inspiring catches and a canon for an arm (it's to the point where he's barely challenged on the basepaths now).
His hitting isn't elite, but his defensive prowess warrants him everyday playing time. Fittingly, as I'm typing this, Kevin Kiermaier just made a fantastic play to keep Chris Archer's perfect game intact, further proving his abilities. So far this season, Kiermaier is second on the team in WAR with 3.0, first in stolen bases (11), triples, and defensive runs saved (15.6).
Kiermaier plays the game hard (sometimes too hard -- a phenomenon we refer to as the "overboogie"). The Rays certainly recognize his all-out style of play, as they've named him the Rays representative for the MLB Heart & Hustle award
Below, I'll show some Kiermaier's best highlights with the Rays where he shows just how hard-nosed a player he is.
Here's a video of Kevin Kiermaier lacing a ball into center. Adam Jones comes in a few steps and casually fields the ball, meanwhile Kiermaier is somehow already rounding first. Jones quickly realizes this and rushes a throw into second, but it was too late as Kiermaier easily beats the throw.
In this next clip, Kiermaier lifts a fly ball towards the opposite field. It send Alejandro De Aza to the warning track, but he can't make the play as the ball caroms off the wall and bounces back towards the playing field. Most players would be coasting into second by this time, however Kiermaier is already around second and heading for third. He'd dive in headfirst with an easy triple. He makes contact five seconds into the video and he's sliding into third a mere ten seconds later.
Those two plays prove that Kiermaier isn't afraid to get down and dirty in order to take an extra base. However, his jersey even becomes filthy (or maybe clean?) after the game. The clip below is Kiermaier being interviewed by Todd Kalas after hitting a clutch go-ahead homer in the top of the tenth against the Angels, when all of sudden in the background you see the "Splash Bros" (R.I.P) sneak around the back of Kiermaier and drench him in water and Gatorade.
Kiermaier has had so many great moments in the field that it's hard to pin down just one. So I won't. Here's his 2014 Gold Glove finalist video which shows three.
Kevin Kiermaier may be on the of best players in baseball that no one has heard of. He's only 25 years old this season, but he'll probably win a Gold Glove award, and if he can return his bat to the form it was early last season, he'll become one of the best players in the league, period.
Maytag brand teamed up with Major League Baseball to become the official washer and dryer of the MLB for the first time in company and league history. Sliding, diving and other "filthy" plays are some of the most fun and exciting parts of baseball, and nothing is better equipped to handle the filthiest of baseball stains than Maytag brand washers and dryers. Maytag brand and MLB are seeking the "Filthiest Plays of the Week." To vote for your favorite filthy play and to learn more, visit MLB.com/Maytag.