Fly Willie… FLY
There has been a trend in baseball to focus on defensive stats and there isn’t a shortage of numbers: Arm (Outfield Arm Above Average), DPR (Double Play Runs Above Average), RngR (Range Runs Above Average), ErrR (Error Runs Above Average), WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating).
If you don’t know what they stand for or what they mean, that’s fine. It just means you have a life. We won’t waste your time trying to describe them.
The only stat you need to know is: game saver. As in… Willie Harris is a game saver. He saved the game on Saturday with a sensational diving catch and it wasn’t the first time. It was as good as a walk-off home run. With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, Harris went airborne to rob Rod Barajas of a game winning hit, leaving the Nats celebrating and Mets fans on their feet with nothing to cheer about.
“He is so good, you got the feeling he is going to catch it,” Barajas said.
“I said, ‘Willie, you have to catch this ball. At least give it your best effort,’” said Harris, speaking in third person as if he wanted to impress Ricky Henderson. “If the ball falls in front of me, it was the game or at least tied and we have a play at the plate. It was pretty much a gamble. Fortunately, I came up with it and made the play.”
It was the third great catch Harris has made against the Mets since joining the Nationals. He also made a game saving catch when he robbed a home run on August 9, 2007 against the Mets when he played for the Braves.
Harris has moved around the baseball diamond with the Nats–playing every position except catcher and first base.
“You know Willie is a good player,” Jim Riggleman said. “Willie can go a lot of places on the field, he is a good hitter and he is fearless.”
Here are a few fearless defensive plays Willie has made… or at least looked good trying to make. We can’t confirm the ball ended up in his glove but we would just like to assume it did. I wouldn’t bet against it. Just like I wouldn’t bet against his love of flying.