The 2018 Defensive Player of the Year Awards were unveiled on Wednesday evening on MLB Network. The award, created in 2012, determines winners “using a formula that combines traditional defensive stats with advanced metrics, as well as the data logged by the baseball experts working for the scouting service Inside Edge,” according to MLB. The award started out splitting the leagues similar to Gold Gloves, but has been unified since 2014.
Best Overall Defensive Player: Matt Chapman, Athletics
Defensive Team of the Year: Arizona Diamondbacks
Most of these players, with the exception of Zunino and Kiermaier, were also 2018 Gold Glove Award winners as well, which isn’t surprising. Chapman over Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, both for the position-specific award and for the “Best Overall Defensive Player” award, might be controversial. Chapman, however, played reeeeeally good defense at third base, it just went under the radar since he plays for the Athletics.
For the D-Backs, it’s the second time they earned the “Defensive Team of the Year” award.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.