Astros center fielder Chas McCormick made the biggest defensive play of his career on Thursday as part of Houston's 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the 2022 World Series. The Astros now lead the best-of-seven series by a 3-2 margin, meaning they'll get two chances at home this weekend to win the World Series title.
But, before anyone shifts their focus to Game 6 (let alone a potential Game 7), McCormick deserves his moment under the spotlight for making a thrilling catch to rob Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto of at least a double, and perhaps a triple in the ninth inning. Observe:
What you see above is Realmuto smoking a 1-1 pitch from Ryan Pressly to the right-center field wall. McCormick was able to run the ball down and leap at the opportune time, making a pivotal grab. Had the ball evaded McCormick, Realmuto would've wound up in scoring position with one out and Bryce Harper coming to bat. (Harper would reach after being struck by a pitch.)
McCormick told Fox's Ken Rosenthal after the game that he initially thought Realmuto had homered.
Statcast's data indicates that Realmuto's batted ball had a .640 expected batting average. According to MLB.com, that figure is calculated based on "how often comparable balls -- in terms of exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain types of batted balls, Sprint Speed -- have become hits since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015."
McCormick, 27, batted .245/.332/.407 (110 OPS+) with 14 home runs and four stolen bases (on seven tries) during the regular season. Both his overall defense and his "jump"ability -- that is, making a good break on the ball -- ranked in the 92nd percentile. He was estimated as having saved six runs.
None of those, it's fair to write, was more important than the one McCormick may have prevented on Thursday night.