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Kevin Kiermaier’s 10 best plays of 2019

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The star center fielder had a highlight-filled 2019 Gold Glove-winning campaign

MLB: MAY 27 Blue Jays at Rays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kevin Kiermaier won his third Gold Glove over the weekend, highlighting his league-best defense in center field last season. Kiermaier’s 17 Outs Above Average led all American League outfielders, while his 13 Defensive Runs Saved topped all center fielders in the AL.

But you don’t need statistics to know Kiermaier is an elite defender. Let’s look back and highlight his top 10 plays in the field last season.

April 17

vs. Jesus Sucre - Baltimore Orioles

Kiermaier started the season off with a bang, swinging the second hottest bat on the team up to that point. His fielding was even better, and on April 17, Kiermaier robbed Jesus Sucre of a line drive hit on a play that had a 15% catch probability, the lowest of any catch Kiermaier made in 2019.

May 22

vs. Cody Bellinger - Los Angeles Dodgers

Cody Bellinger is fast, but Kevin Kiermaier’s inning-ending throw got to home plate faster. Statcast clocked Kiermaier’s throw at 100.6 mph, the hardest outfield assist at the time. The Rays went on to win this game 8-1, but Kiermaier threw Bellinger out while the game was still tied 1-1 in the sixth.

May 27

vs. Rowdy Tellez - Toronto Blue Jays

Arguably Kiermaier’s best catch of 2019, and possibly the best catch by any outfielder all season. Rowdy Tellez barreled a ball and sent it 402 feet to the left-center field wall, only for it to be caught Air Jordan style by Kiermaier.

June 10

vs. Jurickson Profar - Oakland A’s

The catch on Tellez was great, but this catch against Jurickson Profar was even better. With an expected batting average of .810, Profar sent this ball 406 feet only to be met with the same fate as Tellez’ flyout: a catch at the wall that most outfielders don’t make.

June 20

vs Stephen Piscotty - Oakland A’s

Sometimes Kiermaier’s best catches are the ones that look routine, and that is attributed to having the best outfielder Jump in all of baseball [Editor’s note: Jump is a Statcast stat that measures outfielder speed and efficiency in tracking and making catches]. Piscotty had a .760 xBA on this fly ball to right, but a nearly instant reaction off the bat had Kiermaier in position to make this catch on the run.

August 3

vs. Garrett Cooper - Miami Marlins

A jumping catch just in front of the wall was just the first part of this play, with Kiermaier throwing a laser to Willy Adames, who relayed a perfect ball to third base to complete the double play (after video review). Something tells me that this duo will appear again later on.

August 12

vs. Francisco Mejia - San Diego Padres

It’s an annual tradition: Kevin Kiermaier robbing someone of a home run. This time, it was Francisco Mejia that was robbed of a round-tripper, hitting it 383 feet but right into Kiermaier’s home run robbery zone.

September 8

vs. Richard Urena - Toronto Blue Jays

Kiermaier’s 29.5 feet/second on this play was faster than his average sprint speed on the season, sliding after completing this four-star catch to keep Richard Urena off the bases. With a Jump of 7.3 feet above average, Kiermaier reacted much faster than he usually did in 2019, averaging 3.8 feet above average throughout the season, which was the best average in baseball.

September 29

vs. Richard Urena - Toronto Blue Jays

In the final game of the regular season, Kiermaier made sure to put an exclamation mark on his defensive performances throughout the season with a diving catch against, once again, Richard Urena.

October 8, ALDS Game 4

vs. Jose Altuve - Houston Astros

The play of the season? Probably. Nobody will forget the absolutely perfect play that Kevin Kiermaier started, Willy Adames perfected and Travis d’Arnaud finished. Both Kiermaier and Adames had exchanges under one second, allowing d’Arnaud to place the tag on Altuve just in time to get the out.

Kevin Kiermaier had a remarkable 2019 campaign defensively, setting a career-high in Outs Above Average en route to his third career Gold Glove award.