Ender Inciarte ends game, stirs debate: Greatest Braves catch ever?

Atlanta Braves' interim manager Brian Snitker embraces Braves' center fielder Ender Inciarte (11) who still has the ball limn his hand after robbing New York Mets Yoenis Cepedes of a game-winning, three-run home run for the final out in the ninth inning of the Braves' 4-3 victory over the Mets in a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

A congratulatory snuggle from Snitker. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

A cost of the Atlanta Braves’ great selloff was the loss of the great defenders Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward. A slightly obscured benefit of John Coppolella’s manic dealing was the addition of Ender Inciarte, himself a great defender.

If we check the two leading metrics for glove work, we find that the current Brave ranks ahead of both former Braves in Ultimate Zone Rating and ahead of Heyward but behind Simmons in Defensive Runs Saved. (Data from FanGraphs.) And if we go by FanGraphs’ WRC+ (weighted runs created adjusted for parks and league average), we find that Inciarte has been a slightly better hitter this season than Simmons and a much better hitter than Heyward.

Also this: Inciarte is 25; Heyward and Simmons are 27. And this: Heyward is making $21.6 million this season and Simmons $6 million; Inciarte is making $523,000.

All of which is preparatory to saying: The Braves have a keeper. And if you didn’t know that already, you know it now.

I’ve always considered Otis Nixon’s catch of Andy Van Slyke’s drive in July 1992 to be the greatest catch in Atlanta Braves history. (I was there that Saturday night and saw it and wrote about it in a blurry-fast haze.) Andruw Jones’ game-ending grab in Montreal was second — or third, depending on what you think of Heyward’s famous play that ended a game in, yes, New York.

But Inciate’s climactic run-and-leap last night included all those elements — it was a great catch that actually stole a home run AND ended the game AND undid the hated Mets. Let the debate ensue.

As fate would have it, this ran in today’s AJC (and was written before Wednesday’s game): A September to remember for, yes, the Braves.

Reader Comments 0

19 comments
aulner
aulner

I really like the way this team plays hard.  This is a tribute to Snitker, he should be kept on as manager.  A little starting pitcher might make this team respectable!

MiaBchBravesFan
MiaBchBravesFan

Been watching the Braves since the early 70's.  Most of the years have been bad up until The Run.  That said, this has been the MOST enjoyable of the bad seasons I have ever seen.  The amount of growth I have seen, along with the amazing effort has made this a team to root for.  I am totally stoked about the future; last night's catch not only robbed a game from the Mutts, it also clinched a season series win against them!  Inciarte's catch is only second to Nixon's awesome grab!

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

The problem with today's sports media is their rush to claim (or to blog for clicks) "Best Ever" every time they see something even slightly cool happen on the field. That this type of catch happens 20-30 times a season isn't what keeps it from being the "Best Braves Catch Ever," it's that there were absolutely no stakes tied to it. Did it seal a win? Yes. Was the win historically significant to the franchise? Of course not. Did it clinch a playoff berth or a postseason series? It's September and the Braves are 30+ games out. 


You know what the best catch in Braves history was? The routine pop fly that Marquis Grissom easily handled for the final out of Atlanta's (not just the Braves, the city's) only professional championship. 

Kevthurman
Kevthurman

@FineousMcDirtyBird Gonna pick nits here...when I was a boy in ATL in 1967, the Chiefs won the NASL professional championship for the only ATL win UNTIL the Braves did it...if you had said MAJOR championship, that would have nailed it.


patriotdog
patriotdog

Andruw made many great, diving catches. Many of them were because, after his first few years, he packed on the pounds and got slower requiring a dive because of the loss of closing speed.

Otis......hands down.

The thing is, if the Bravos pony up cash when the time comes, Ender will have many more years of doing these type things in a 'good guys' uniform.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Whichever is the best catch ever, one thing is sure; Inciarte is a keeper. great center field defense, great leadoff hitter, and a great base runner.


We have actually accumulated a pretty good outfield and infield while no one was paying attention. If we can add a catcher and the starting pitchers can step up, we might surprise some people next year.


A few wags could end up apologizing to Coppy before all is said and done-

TOJacket
TOJacket

Snorting Otis Nixon without a doubt.

jlrhoya
jlrhoya

The catch in 1992 meant something to the game AND the season.  Last night meant something to the game but nothing to a season where we are next to last from the bottom (as I write this).

BostonBullDawg
BostonBullDawg

I'm going to vote for Walt Weiss in the 1999 NLDS every single time.  If he doesn't make the play the Braves go down 2-1 and maybe don't make it through to the NLCS and World Series.  An amazing play, with the game on the line, in the playoffs.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGZAbwvu4_o

Archangel
Archangel

@BostonBullDawg That is stupid considering the ball was hit right to him and didn't end the game. Plus, using your key word: maybe, they dont make it through. The other catches weren't maybe they ended the game definitely. 


Perhaps there's another reason you chose Weiss,  because the reason you gave is ridiculous. 


Treespeed
Treespeed

I give the edge to Nixon because of the verticality. But Inciarte was right up there. I'm getting juiced about these Braves. Funnest September in recent memory.

Fojij Tuki
Fojij Tuki

my mum recently got an awesome month old BMW M6 Gran Coupe Sedan just by parttime work from a home computer.

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