After all, if you can appear to make an error in the outfield, boot the ball several feet away from you, then pick it up and absolutely effortlessly flick the ball back toward second base — from the warning track, while turning your entire body around, but still effortlessly in the eyes of anyone who watches you do it — then is it really a mistake?
Freddie Freeman hit a single to center field. It was just your standard, everyday base hit.
Puig booted it, Freeman saw Puig boot it, and Freeman sensibly concluded that he could use Puig’s gaffe to advance a base. It was just your standard, everyday outfield error leading to an extra base. Having a runner in scoring position with two out might well have been the Braves’ chance to break open a scoreless game in the third.
Puig then collected it and fired a cannon shot to second that had Freeman out by a mile and would’ve been enough to get just about anyone in the league since Rickey Henderson was still around.
Cincinnati has been atrocious with the bat this year. Scoring four runs against the Braves is half a run more than they average per game — 84 runs scored in 24 games puts the Reds 11th in the National League and 25th in all of baseball, fully 1.13 runs per game below the MLB average — so every run you can take off the board defensively makes it easier for your offense to score enough runs to win these soccer-like final scorelines.
Puig himself, meanwhile, has been putrid this year, with a .190/.205/.342 slash line and an attendant .547 OPS that puts him among the worst starting outfielders in baseball.
Since his lone All-Star appearance in 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Puig has been in decline, never quite able to recover from a 2015 injury.
Last year, he even led all National League right fielders in errors with eight.
But that doesn’t matter when you have a cannon arm, an enemy player fooling himself into believing he’s got a free base after a single, and one monster throw to get onto the highlight reel.
Then again, maybe cannon arms come standard on Cuban outfielders.
After all, Puig’s countryman, Yoenis Cespedes, had an awfully similar-looking situation on a ball he initially appeared to misplay in left field not long ago:
Reminiscent of some Cespedes highlights pic.twitter.com/O5fFQzWSis
— Josh Kessler (@javy981) April 26, 2019
The point, perhaps, is that when there’s a guy in the other team’s outfield who can wipe out your trip around the bases with what looks to the untrained eye like a mere flick of his wrist, you might want to just take your base and be thankful you got that much.
Because otherwise, you’re Freddie Freeman, walking back to the dugout shaking your head and getting ready to go play defense.
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