Once upon a time, Manager David Ross was just a backup catcher who attempted more pickoffs than batterymate Jon Lester. There’s perhaps no better example of Ross’s ability to retire runners than his back-pick during Game 1 of the NLDS.
In the top of the 3rd inning of a 0-0 game with no outs, the Giants’ Conor Gillaspie was leaning too far off of first base. Well aware of San Francisco’s base-running tactics, Ross immediately rocketed a throw to first base to snag Gillaspie.
The pop time of 1.50 seconds was faster than the Statcast average of 1.64 seconds that season, not bad for a guy who would retire at the end of the season. Notice, too, how Javy Báez is the one making the play, as Anthony Rizzo is sneaking up to field Johnny Cueto‘s attempted bunt.
It seemed as if the 2016 Cubs executed every play perfectly. Sigh. Ross placed an emphasis on the fundamentals in his first attempt at camp, so perhaps we’ll see a return to doing the little things right once the season resumes.