Willson Contreras is a mad man.
I say that, of course, with complete affection for a Chicago Cubs player who puts it all out there, leaving no effort or emotion unused in a given game.
Last night was a perfect example of Willson Contreras, Useful Mad Man. Coming in as a pinch hitter in the 6th inning, with the Cubs trailing by a run and two on base, Contreras went down stairs on a good pitch to yank it into left field for a two-run double.
Then, when Matt Szczur dribbled one up the middle, Contreras reached third base with ease, as you’d expect someone on second base to do when there’s a dribbler up the middle. But then, to the shock of everyone watching, Contreras just kept going. It’s not like shortstop Freddy Galvis was THAT deep, or THAT unfocused. And if Galvis’s throw doesn’t hit the mound, Contreras might be toast. It was a huge risk, debatably one worth taking, since Contreras scored what was ultimately the decisive run in the game.
You can see the play in the second half of this video, as Joe Maddon discusses it:
As Maddon explained, Contreras was taking an aggressive turn because the ball was up the middle, and then as Galvis gets the ball, Contreras was anticipating a throw to first. We’ve seen that before, where a throw on a play like that goes to first with two outs, a speedy runner (like Szczur) is safe, and the run from second scores easily, even though the ball didn’t leave the infield. To Galvis’s credit, he wisely ate the grounder – he just didn’t expect to see Contreras keep going.
Maddon later said that Contreras “plays with his hair is on fire,” and although he can sometimes be “a little bit overassertive,” he will learn to control it eventually (CSN).
For his part, Contreras added that he was being sent by third base coach Gary Jones (CSN), but that it all happened very fast. At some point, it all just becomes baseball instincts anyway.
Like I said: Willson Contreras is a mad man, and I love watching him play baseball.