Teams don’t normally turn sac bunts into double plays, but the Cubs aren’t a normal team.
Anthony Rizzo was already playing up in anticipation of a Matt Garza bunt, which meant that Ben Zobrist was holding Manny Pina over at first base. This actually led to a discussion between Len and JD about the rules regarding proper equipment and whether Zobrist was technically the first baseman at that point.
While they mulled the possibilities, Garza got the bunt down and pushed it right up the middle. Rizzo scooped up the ball with his bare hand, spun, and fired to a waiting Addison Russell. And that’s when things really got interesting.
Seeing a shortstop make a jump-throw is nothing new, but there are so many little things about this that make it uniquely impressive. In most cases, you’d see Russell accept the throw while moving toward the bag in order to carry that momentum into his relay toss. Not only was he stationary here, his feet were set in a wide stance to allow him to keep contact with the base while avoiding the runner. And that’s not all.
Russell then managed to jump from that position, getting high enough to clear a sliding Pina while still putting some mustard on his relay to Zobrist. That’s incredible. Don’t agree? Try this: Stand there with your feet splayed and jump. Oof, you call that a jump? Now try it again while throwing a baseball 90 feet. Don’t feel so bad, I can’t do it either.
There are other worthy candidates for the Gold Glove and it’s hard to unseat previous winners, but plays like this are why Russell looks to have a pretty good shot to take the award from the Giants’ Brandon Crawford.