Ranking the 10 Most Game-Changing Defensive Stars in MLB
There are few players in Major League Baseball that posses the ability to make game-changing plays on defense on a consistent basis.
It's as if it has become the norm for them and we're surprised when they are unable to complete that magnificent play that only a handful of humans on the planet are able to pull off.
It also takes a while for these players to develop a reputation for being a star on defense because the recipe calls for consistency, as well as some flashy plays sprinkled in here and there. The exception here is, of course, Mike Trout; but he's the exception in a lot of things baseball-related because he's doing things that no 21-year-old should be capable of.
Here's a list ranking the 10 best game-changing defensive stars in baseball.
10. Ben Revere
While I'm not going to knock Ben Revere on his season defensively this year, it was 2011 that he made a name for himself.
It was this catch in particular that caught my eye, and I made sure to remember the name afterwards.
He didn't disappoint, as he continued to make catches last season like this one.
Revere then continued his success in the field this year by still making phenomenal plays, but in right field this time.
Revere isn't ever going to be a star in this league, but he's one of those players that make you keep an eye on him just to see what he does next.
9. Mark Ellis
I was watching a Los Angeles Dodgers game the other day, and I heard something that literally shocked me and made me run to my computer to validate that statement.
Lo and behold, it was correct.
As of today, Mark Ellis has the highest career fielding percentage of any second baseman in the history of the game.
Don't believe me?
Game-changing or not, Ellis deserves a spot on this list just because of that.
8. Brendan Ryan
7. Evan Longoria
If you're going to play third base at the major league level, you better know how to reach down and make a bare-handed pickup and sling it to first base all in one motion.
And if you're trying to learn, just watch Evan Longoria execute plays like this over and over again, and you just might be able to pick it up.
Longoria is truly one of the best defensive players in the game, and could be the best in the business at third base.
6. Darwin Barney
Darwin Barney might not be a household name, but his ability to flash the leather at second base is unrivaled.
If you're looking for a quick and dirty way to watch as many Barney highlights as you possibly can, look no further because someone was nice enough to supply you with just that.
Oh yeah, according to FanGraphs, Barney has also saved 27 runs this year, which is the most in the majors.
5. Troy Tulowitzki
There has been something missing from the baseball season this year, and I wasn't able to put my finger on it until I started doing research for this article.
Troy Tulowitzki has missed 94 games this year, which means we have been deprived of watching "Tulo" make plays like this for 94 days.
While Derek Jeter might have something to say about this, Tulowitzki is able to pull off the jump throw/spin/how-the-heck-did-he-do-that play better than any other shortstop in baseball.
When you combine his consistency, arm strength and range, there isn't a better defensive shortstop in the game than Tulowitzki.
4. Michael Bourn
While it is certainly debatable, Michael Bourn is the best defensive center fielder in baseball.
It's no secret, but his range and ability to track down any fly ball that's in his general vicinity is truly unmatched by anyone in baseball.
In fact, according to FanGraphs, he has the second-most defensive runs saved with 24.
Bourn also possesses the ability to make plays like this. That quickly-sinking line drive had no business being caught, and Bourn is the only center fielder in the game that is able to make that catch.
3. Brandon Philips
It seems that every time you turn on Baseball Tonight to catch up with the daily happenings in baseball, one name that is always featured during the Web Gems section is Brandon Phillips.
While he is one of the most sure-handed defensive second baseman in the game, he's also the most creative due to his ability to make plays that no one has seen before.
This specific play is nowhere near one of his most memorable, but it perfectly describes what he's able to do in the field. I mean, really, how many times have you seen someone turn a double play from his knees?
Only Brandon Phillips.
2. Mike Trout
It's difficult to develop a reputation for being an excellent defensive player at the major league level in such a short period of time, but Mike Trout found a way to do so practically as soon as he was called up to The Show.
He made plays like this one, which is the catch that grabbed people's attention.
Then he turned around and made this catch, and that officially put him on the map as a legitimate Gold Glove contender and an absolute stud in center field.
This catch, however, was just the icing on the cake.
If someone make three catches like that within a span of three months, he is going to earn a reputation in this league, and that's exactly what happened.
Mike Trout can truly do it all.
1. Yadier Molina
Yadier Molina is the epitome of a game-changing defensive player, and he happens to play the most important position on the field: catcher.
While he doesn't have many holes in his game, what sets him apart is his ability to throw out runners on the base paths. In fact, even the best base stealers in the game are hesitant to test his arm due to his reputation.
Only 60 base runners have attempted to run on Molina, and only 33 made it safely. The two catchers that have allowed the second-fewest runners to steal on them are Miguel Montero and John Buck with 41.
Molina's fielding percentage is also .997, which is the second to only Brian McCann among catchers with enough putouts to quality.
It's hard to think of a better defensive player in baseball than Molina.