Did Yoenis Cespedes Make The Best Throw Ever? Here Are The Other Candidates
The baseball world is buzzing about the amazing throw Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes made last night against the Angles. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Trout ripped a double down the left field line. Cespedes beats the ball to the wall, but doesn’t field it cleanly, knocking it into foul territory. Howie Kendrick was on first, and Cespedes’ bobble seemingly granted him safe passage to home.
Seemingly. After picking up the ball, Cespedes throws an improbably 300 feet plus strike to catcher Derek Norris, nicking Kendrick at the plate and preserving the tie. (The Angels would go on to win in extra innings.)
Some are saying it’s the best throw they’ve ever seen. And we might agree. But here’s ten other spectacular throws to add a bit of perspective. They are unranked because great throws are like snowflakes; each brilliant in it’s own unique way.
Ellis Valentine Ellis Valentine had the strongest arm of the seventies and a nickname — The Human Howitzer — befitting such a distinction. While runners rarely took an extra base when the ball was headed his way, when they did Valentine proved he was more than just hype.
When Ichiro broke into the league in 2001 he was a sensation at the plate, on the base paths and in right field. Just ask Terrance Long, who tried to first-to-third the cannon-armed Japanese import and paid the price. It was plays like these which made Suzuki the second player to ever win Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same year.
Yasiel Puig Cespedes isn’t the only Cuban with a cannon. Human highlight (and lowlight) reel Yasiel Puig seems to uncork a dozy of a throw every few days. In this one he nails Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who also knows a thing or two about having a ridiculously strong arm.
Bo Jackson It would be hard to call Cespedes’ throw the best ever after seeing this Bo Jackson strike from a deeper part of left field, which nailed Harold Reynolds at the plate even though he had been moving from first on a hit-and- run. The throw is so good it even has a name (“The Throw”) and a short documentary feature.
Vladimir Guerrero He didn’t wear batting gloves, could hit any pitch his bat could reach, and he regularly uncorked laser beams from right field with a goofy, exaggerated throwing motion. That was Vlad Guerrero, one of the most unconventional players in baseball history. And it wasn’t a good idea to run on him.
Joe Ferguson was primarily a catcher, but he was playing right field for the Dodgers in the 1974 World Series against the As. He had an agreement with center fielder Jimmy Wynn that he would jump in front of him and use his cannon backstop arm if the situation arose. Here their plan works perfectly, and Sal Bando pays the price at the plate.
Jeff Francoeur “Frenchy’s” anemic offense performance and all-around Sabermetric unfriendly game have made him a bit of a punchline. But there is no questioning the man’s arm, as Jhonny Peralta can tell you.
Roberto Clemente Clemente’s all-time best 260 right field assists are 74 more than second place. It’s a wonder he got any , since his reputation was such that nobody would ever run him. For example, this wise decision made in the 1971 World Series.
Rick Ankiel We all know the story of Ankiel; a promising pitcher who completely lost the strike zone and then reinvented himself as a serviceable center fielder. He was actually a lot more than just serviceable on defense, and never seemed to have a problem throwing strikes from the outfield.
Jose Guillen This is our pick for the greatest throw of all-time. The play starts off pretty goofy — Guillen mis-judges Neifi Perez’s drive and it almost bounces off his head Jose Canseco-style. He recovers the ball and then uncorks the most majestic of throws. One that seems to defy the laws of physics by gaining speed as it flies toward third base. A mutant throw, indeed.