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Corbin Carroll’s Wheels Can Throw Even The Braves Out Of Whack

8:56 AM EDT on July 19, 2023

Corbin Carroll sprints to third base
Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

One of the scariest moments of the MLB season came earlier this month, when Diamondbacks rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll had to leave two different games within a week after messing up his shoulder swinging the bat—a shoulder that had previously required surgery and cost him almost the entirety of his 2021 minor-league season. Had this been a reoccurrence in severity, it would had deprived baseball of a player who's become an absolute blast to watch for any fan but his opponents'. Carroll is blink-and-you-miss-him quick on the bases, but he also has the confidence to use that advantage as often as possible, stealing more bases than all but two other players and setting his sights on home plate whenever he's even on first.

But the shoulder problem wasn't serious and didn't keep Carroll out of the lineup, and thus production from a key provider of MLB's most flabbergasting highlights has been allowed to continue. On Tuesday, in a 16-13 Diamondbacks win that was just one of many double-digit scoring affairs across the league, the Braves got to participate in the Wile E. Coyote role during Carroll's baserunning shenanigans.

The 22-year-old future NL ROY knocked in the very first run of the game with a triple that he placed in just the right spot along the first-base line. Nine runs later, in the top of the second, he came up again and got to the same base in a very different way. Carroll swung and missed at a third strike that basically burrowed under the plate, but when the ball escaped from catcher Sean Murphy, he raced to first, forced an errant throw, and traveled approximately 180 more feet from there.

“That was crazy,” Carroll said.

The nature of a 16-13 game means Carroll and everyone else got plenty of opportunities to manufacture memorable at-bats, and he actually made me laugh out loud with a weak RBI single in the top of the sixth, with the score 11-8. Matt Olson picked up the roller, and he did in fact make an instinctive move toward first. But you can see the exact moment when Olson realized "Ah, right ... speedy."

And there's one more! In an eighth inning that saw Arizona tie the game at 13, Carroll got hit by a pitch and stole second so blatantly that a girl in Duluth with binoculars could have called him safe. And then he got third base, too.

(Fortuitously for baseball fans in Arizona, this wild game was easily available to watch and without blackouts, because a bankruptcy judge ruled Tuesday that Diamond Sports Group, of Bally Sports infamy, can ditch its 20-year, $1.5 billion contract with the Diamondbacks. MLB is taking over production for their broadcasts, like they already did with the Padres, and before it starts charging a steep streaming price of $54.99 for less than half a season, it's showing them for free through the end of the week.)

I must say I find it soothing to see Carroll wreck the defense of a team as put-together as the Braves. They have the best record in baseball, having systematically assembled a collection of superstars on what project to be bargain deals, and are seeking their sixth straight division crown. It's a little intimidating, and often frustrating, to watch their games and witness such an assured group with no real flaws on either side of the ball. It's a relief, then, to know they're not immune to Corbin Carroll's capers.

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