Former one-man highlight reel Yasiel Puig made a sprinting catch at the foul line to rob Padres center fielder Manuel Margot of a hit in the top of the third of last night’s game in Los Angeles, and thanks to recent additions to MLB’s Statcast technology, we know exactly how difficult that catch was to make.
Puig ran 89 feet in 4.8 seconds to make the catch before nearly taking out a ballboy. Statcast, using its new “catch probability” statistic, says a ball hit with that hangtime and distance is caught 35 percent of the time. Per Statcast’s grading system, Puig’s catch warrants a high four-star rating (out of five possible stars).
Puig’s catch wasn’t a flashy leaping or diving catch. He looks fast and on-target, and so he makes an extraordinarily difficult catch look easy. What’s great about catch probability is that in can show us, almost in real time, just how impressive these seemingly routine plays are. For Puig, a dead sprint to cover that much ground looks like something he might do for fun while palling around with his boys Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner. But the majority of right fielders wouldn’t have even sniffed that ball.
As fun as Puig’s catch was, he’s going to need a lot more than a few Statcast highlights to stand out on a Dodgers team that is stacked offensively. Puig hit just .232/.295/.464/.759 with three home runs during spring training, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Puig will bat near the bottom of the order against righties until they see a marked improvement in his hitting.
At least we’ll still have his defensive highlights.