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One more look at Gorkys’ defense

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He’s made the pitchers’ lives much easier this season.

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Gorkys Hernandez made one standout play this afternoon and another play I just consider to be cool, but neither should come as a surprise since he’s been the Giants’ best outfielder all season.

None of the stats back this up, of course, so the conventional wisdom is that the Giants have done themselves a huge disservice by having him on the roster. FanGraphs’ defensive stats

Statcast credits him with only 2 Outs Above Average (42nd in MLB), which they define as

Outs Above Average (OAA) is the cumulative effect of all individual Catch Probability plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them. For example, a fielder who catches a 25% Catch Probability play gets +.75; one who fails to make the play gets -.25. Read more about how Outs Above Average works here.

and he’s ranked 77th in Sprint Speed (28.5 ft/sec), which is above average, but not elite.

These clips, then, will be just for the eye test crowd.

In the top of the 5th, Manuel Margot singled up the middle. Freddy Galvis followed and hit a fly ball to center field. Now, Margot over there on first base is a speedster, so a sleeping defender might not consider putting himself in a position to cut down the runner should he take off. But Gorkys is no ordinary defender.

Sorry for the fast motion .gif, but it’s still pretty clear what’s happening: he halts his moment running away from second base and does a Broadway-style “turn to the left” spin and throw back to the infield to stop Margot. This became important because in the very next plate appearance, Margot made his move:

It was a small thing, but it stood out.

The big play came in the following inning after Andrew Suarez left the game with runners at first and third and two outs. Reyes Moronta’s second pitch to Jose Pirela was a 98 mph fastball at the knees that drifted into a right-handed hitter’s wheelhouse and Pirela nearly made him pay for the mistake, except Gorkys was right there.

As Duane Kuiper noted, he got a great jump on the ball. He also covered a lot of ground, which might be even more important than the jump. Here’s where he was positioned at the start of Pirela’s plate appearance:

You don’t have to squint very hard to notice that he’s to the right of the 399 feet measurement marker on the center field wall. Here’s the aforementioned jump:

Like the previous play, his body control is tremendous. His first jump had to have been a push off from his left foot with his right shoulder turning out to maximize the move. From there, it’s a matter of sprint speed.

It looks like it took him 7 or 8 strides to get to that ball and when he finally arrived he caught the ball like it was no big deal. He’s made a lot of plays look very easy in the first few months of the season, and after the past few seasons by Giants outfielders, we must cherish these precious moments.