It's no secret that Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies is the best defensive third baseman in the National League and is at least as good, if not better than, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in the American League.
However, Arenado continues to find new ways to surprise his fans and did so again on Monday with another unbelievable defensive effort against the Cincinnati Reds.
When opposing pitcher Luis Castillo squared around to bunt in the top of the fifth inning, Arenado came flying in from his third base position to make one of the best plays of the year.
As you can see in the video below, Castillo's bunt lands on the first-base side of the pitcher's mound, but the quick-footed Arenado swoops in, grabs the ball and fires to second base to get the lead runner out:
Most third basemen would have let the pitcher or first baseman handle that play, but Arenado isn't most third basemen. Most players also would have been happy to simply throw to first to make sure they recorded at least one out on the play, but Arenado decided he was going to take a gamble and attempt to throw out the runner heading to second base.
After the game, which the Rockies held on to win 5-3, Arenado said he's been thinking about that play for a long time and was happy to finally be able to put it in action:
"I've been wanting to do that for a long time," he told MLB.com's Daniel Kramer. "I just haven't been able to because no one has really done it yet.
"What was going through my head was that [Castillo's] a young pitcher and I knew that he's just trying to get the bunt down. That's his job, so I was like, 'OK, I'm going to charge him.'"
At this point, Arenado is probably already a lock for his fifth-straight Gold Glove award and possibly for his third-straight Silver Slugger award, too. In addition to his sparkling defensive play, Arenado is currently hitting .299 with 15 home runs and 63 RBI for the surprisingly competitive Rockies.
Though the Rockies recently struggled to a 1-8 record on a long road trip, the mood in the clubhouse is good and no one is panicking just yet, according to ESPN.com:
"Regardless of how we've played of late, everyone is in a good spot," right-hander Jeff Hoffman said. "There doesn't need to be a dramatic change in the way we go about our game plan."
Despite a solid 49-36 record, the Rockies are in third place in the National League West division, trailing the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers by 6.5 games and the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks by four games as the All-Star break approaches.
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