When Game 1 of the 2016 World Series kicks off tonight in Cleveland, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez will take center stage. In what will be the biggest series of their lives, the Cleveland Indians shortstop and Chicago Cubs second baseman have more in common than playing the middle infield. They're both natives of Puerto Rico. In 2011, they faced off in high school as two of the top prospects in the country. They were taken one pick apart in the MLB draft. And now, they're both base-stealing wizards.
Lindor and Baez have become eerily good at contorting their bodies to avoid a tag when attempting to swipe a base, even when the throw beats them by a good second or two. They execute it by performing a move similar to a swim move in football, in which they pull the arm they aren't using away from the tag and simultaneously contort their torso to create an empty space where their body usually is.
Here's Baez earlier this season in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, executing the move to perfection by pulling his left arm back and completely avoiding the tag, despite the ball beating him by a mile. Baez was originally called out, but immediately signaled to manager Joe Madden to challenge because he knew he'd never actually been tagged.
Lindor has done that swim-move slide a few times. It made its debut on Sept. 1 last season in Toronto: pic.twitter.com/OfxEyip432
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 21, 2016
Above, watch Lindor pull off the exact same move in Toronto, using his right arm to pull away from the tag. Below, he uses the same move to earn the Indians a run in Boston.
The two are mirror images of each other.
"Usually when someone slides, they forget about everything else," Baez told STACK during World Series media day. "When I slide, I keep my focus on where the ball is and where's the tag and if I can skip it I will."
Lindor's sliding expertise continually wows his teammates when he's able to pull it off.
"He makes the slide very hard [for the defender]," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis told mlb.com "He knows with reviews, all you have to do is get that finger in there first. He got his whole palm in there before the other guy tagged him."
Are Lindor and Baez secret fraternal twins? How else could they have developed swim moves that are almost identical to each other? There's definitely a conspiracy afoot. In the meantime, we can't wait to watch them show off their skills on the biggest stage in baseball.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock