San Francisco Giants’ Five Best Defensive Plays of 2015

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Kelby Tomlinson’s Error-Saving Gem

Sep 25, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson (37) catches Oakland Athletics shortstop

Marcus Semien

(10) (not pictured) fly ball to retire the side in the eighth inning of their MLB baseball game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the season and even through the All-Star break, no one expected Kelby Tomlinson to be one of the Giants’ key contributors. Second base was firmly in the hands of All-Star Joe Panik, but when Panik went down with a nagging back injury, Tomlinson was called up from Triple A Sacramento and never looked back.

Tomlinson, who was drafted as a shortstop out of Texas Tech, contributed both offensively and defensively for the Giants all throughout the latter half of the season and used his experience as a shortstop to display his incredible range up the middle of the infield.

He and Brandon Crawford worked together almost seamlessly in Panik’s absence to make remarkable plays like this gem from September 30th.

Though the Giants had just been eliminated from postseason contention the night before, Tomlinson gave fans something to cheer about when he caught the ball after it bounced off of Crawford in what would likely have been charged as an error to the Gold Glove candidate and flipped it to first base bare-handed for the out. This amazing play also helped preserve Mike Leake‘s shutout, which would become the first complete game shoutout of his career.

Tomlinson’s value to the Giants cannot be overstated. Because they were able to source the position from within it meant that they didn’t need to go outside of the organization and give up valuable prospects to get a temporary replacement for Panik, and it also gave Tomlinson himself a chance to prove his skills at the highest level, making it very likely that he will have an opportunity to vie for a spot on next year’s roster, perhaps as a super utility player.

Next: Juan Perez Robs Stephen Piscotty