Throughout his career, Kevin Pillar has made a name for himself with his theatrical catches in the outfield. Sunday’s grab may have been his best yet.
As Blue Jays fans, we’ve had the distinct pleasure of watching one of the best defensive centre fielders in baseball for a few years now. He may go through hot and cold spells at the plate, but Kevin Pillar is unquestionably one of the best outfielders in Blue Jays’ history.
He’s made a habit out of making ridiculous catches since he became the full-time centre fielder in Toronto, to the point where hardly anyone bats an eye when he makes a diving grab. However, on Sunday he made a catch that even the most desensitized fans had to appreciate.
Nick Castellanos of the Detroit Tigers sent a pitch to left-centre during the afternoon affair, and it looked like it was going to be another round-tripper for the slugging outfielder. Instead, Pillar scaled the wall, timing his jump perfectly in order to use the outfield wall to propel himself higher than nearly any human can jump.
Even if you were watching the game in real time when it happened, or if you’ve seen the highlight elsewhere, I’m willing to bet you just watched the above video more than once. I can’t get enough of it myself.
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In order for this attempt to have been successful, Pillar literally had to time it perfectly and execute the use of the wall just right, utilizing it as a launching pad to get off the ground. Had he been a split second earlier or later, there’s next to no chance he comes down with the ball.
Pillar made a similar catch in his first season in 2015 while playing in left field. As he did on Sunday, he used the wall in order to get above the top of it and bring the ball back, something that only a handful of players have done at the Rogers Centre. In fact, according to a tweet from Mike Wilner, Pillar’s two catches of this fashion represent 2/3’s of the times it’s been pulled off, with Rajai Davis making a similar catch in left field as well.
The catch was so ridiculous, that even Castellanos, who was the batter who hit the ball, stood and applauded “Superman” after he took away the Detroit slugger’s home run. When a catch is that good, even the guy who got robbed takes a moment to stop and tip his cap to Pillar’s effort.
Now that the calendar has flipped to July, highlights like this aren’t bad for the 29 year old’s perceived value. The Blue Jays are expected to be heavy seller’s at this year’s trade deadline, and while Pillar is not on an expiring contract, the team does have a lot of outfield depth, and he could be deemed expendable in a rebuild. With two years remaining of arbitration eligibility, he will start to get a little more expensive, and eventually he’ll start to slow down in the outfield, where the majority of his WAR value is derived from.
For now though, he’s still one of the best defensive players in baseball, and his latest effort will be showing up in highlight reels for years to come. If you ask me, I think there’s a solid argument that Sunday’s grab was the best of his career, and that’s definitely saying a lot.
Hats off to you sir, just when I didn’t think you could surprise me anymore, you’ve gone and outdone yourself again.