Javy Baez and the Magical Swipe Tag
The art of tagging out a runner in baseball is a subject that isn't often discussed, let alone highlighted.
However, Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez is reinventing the tag play and turning it into a weapon.
Again, there's nothing sexy about a routine tag play on a runner attempting to steal second base.
But then again, there's nothing normal about the way dude applies a tag.
Behold this lovely tagging montage:
Look how quickly he's slapping down that leather.
It's a pretty nifty way to eliminate your opponent's running game, not to mention pick up your pitcher and catcher.
During a recent World Series game, play-by dude Joe Buck actually referred to Baez as the best tagger in MLB, perhaps the first time a ballplayer has even been awarded such a distinction.
Obviously, this isn'tt a skill that can be quantified with statistics, but Baez certainly passes the eye test.
It must be said, dude's struggled mightily at the plate in the Series after earning MVP honors in the NLCS.
However, his magical glove keeps him on the field, and he seems to make spectacular plays look routine daily.
A word of warning, though. This is certainly not your grandfather's defense.
Conventional wisdom demands waiting at the bag for a throw from the catcher, but that's not what they teach in Puerto Rico. He attacks the throw and then applies a diving tag.
The fundamentally sound Tom Emanski does not endorse this method.
Neither does Fred McGriff.
Then again, 40 years ago, Old School white managers used to fine Latin ballplayers for playing flip.
Now, they teach it at youth clinics, along with other Latin actions like fielding the ball with your anchor leg as a backstop and starting a double-play turn by trapping the ball on the glove's backside instead of laboriously catching it, pulling it out of the pocket, and then throwing to first.
So, watching Baez out there is like watching the future of baseball ... if you were watching it 40 years ago.