Editor's note: This article is Part 1 of a five-part series in which Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford breaks down his stand-out defensive plays from the team's 2014 World Series run
The situation: With the Giants leading the Braves 3-1 and two outs in the ninth on May 3, Crawford went up the middle to rob shortstop Andrelton Simmons -- winner of the past two Gold Gloves. The spinning throw ended the game. Crawford has always remembered a piece of advice he got in little league: “Be the best shortstop on the field.”
[RECAP: Giants 3, Braves 1]
“I don’t know if it’s just me, but being a shortstop, it’s always a little more fun to get the other shortstops out,” he said. “When you get an opportunity to make a good play on them it’s always a little bit more fun because those are guys I’m competing with. Obviously, we’re playing the Braves -- I’m not just playing Simmons right there. But we’re competing against each other for All-Star votes, for contracts, possibly a Gold Glove. It always makes it a little bit more fun (when you rob a shortstop), and then to end the game on a play like that is fun, too. Obviously it’s fun to make a play like that on anybody, but a few (highlight plays) that stand out are some that were made on other shortstops.”
Many of Crawford’s best plays are instinctual, and often times he can’t practice things he does in games. But when the Giants infielders do drills, Ron Wotus and other coaches will hit grounders to Crawford’s left and right, so he will occasionally practice this throw.
“When I’m making this play, I don’t think I’m quite seeing first base, but I know where it is because I’ve made a play like that before," he said. "I have an idea of where first base is going to be. It's not going anywhere. It’s a lot easier in a way to make a spin like that because you have more going towards first base and you can do it a lot faster than catching and spinning your feet.”
As he says this, Crawford stands and mimics throwing a ball across his body. He prefers the spin, saying it doesn’t really matter if his body never gets square to the target.
“I think it’s more about body control,” he said. “Even though it may not look like it, I feel like I knew where my weight was on my feet, so I knew where my arm was.”