Sure, barehanded catches are rare and special for a baseball player such as budding star Rhys Hoskins. But there is something special about a fan making one in the stands.
During a game at Citizens Bank Park on May 22, one dedicated Phillies fan leaped across multiple seats to make an incredible barehanded catch on a Freddy Galvis foul ball. That grab earned him a nomination for Best Fan Catch in this year's Esurance MLB Awards.
Speaking of Hoskins, the incredible first-year sensation is also up for an award: Best Rookie. With 18 home runs, 37 walks and 48 RBIs in 50 games after being called up Aug. 10, Hoskins was simply unstoppable for the games he played. It has him in the running for the premier young talent in the sport.
The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor MLB's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five groups, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at MLB.com and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members.
The MLB Awards are an all-inclusive program, encompassing the top players and performances from both the American and National Leagues from Opening Day through the end of the postseason.
Voting led off with seven categories on Sept. 18 at mlb.com/awards, serving as the grand entrance of a program that unveiled nominees for Best Call, TV/Radio; Best Major Leaguer, Postseason; and Best Postseason Moment following the Fall Classic's final out. The ninth inning of voting began around BBWAA Awards week, which opened when the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners were unveiled. Voting for the final categories begins at 7 p.m. ET on the following dates:
• Best Manager: Tuesday
• Best Pitcher: Wednesday
• Best Major Leaguer: Thursday
MLB Awards season will culminate Friday, when winners are announced live on MLB Network and MLB.com starting at 8 p.m. ET.
Josh Persing, who was 18 when he made his catch, went to the game with his girlfriend on her birthday and ended up with quite the present. Decked out in a Brad Lidge jersey, he leapt past his girlfriend's seat and made a terrific catch on a ball that would have landed a row or two past them.
"I kind of just reacted," Persing said. "I was just sitting here talking to my friends, and everyone started screaming, and I just looked up and just dove. I play baseball and wanted to catch the ball. I don't know. It was exciting."
Hoskins was named Minor League Player of the Year after crushing 29 homers and driving in 91 runs in 115 games for Lehigh Valley. He stayed hot upon his promotion to the big leagues and became the first player ever to hit 18 homers in his first 34 games.
Among rookies, only the Yankees' Aaron Judge (1.049) had a higher OPS than Hoskins' 1.014.
"One of the biggest things Rhys has got going for him is that he has the demeanor and the personality, kind of like [Hall of Famer Harmon] Killebrew," former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told MLB.com's Paul Hagen in September. "He's low key. He listens. He'll think before he gives you an answer. And he's really into playing baseball. If he can keep the same demeanor, he has a chance to be a really good player."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.