The Worst of the Best: The Week’s Wildest Swings

And we’re to the second part of our third edition of The Worst Of The Best. As earlier, this has been delayed on account of current events, which have been making it difficult to concentrate. As earlier, I’ll acknowledge that not everybody wants to be reading about baseball right now, and this is simply out there for those who do. As earlier, I’ll note that I have no sympathy for people whose browsers lock up, because you ought to know by now that these posts feature a ton of .gifs and images. And as earlier, I’ll detail what you’re about to look at! This is a top five of the wildest swings of the past week, or the full swings at the wildest pitches. Checked swings don’t count as wild swings, for my purposes, and really awkward swings where the hitter falls down don’t count as wild swings, either. It’s all PITCHf/x-derived, so if you want to blame something for something, blame technology. Just don’t expect it to respond.

Maybe you saw a swing over the past week that you thought was really bad. Maybe you think that swing should’ve made the top five, even though it didn’t! Instead of assuming PITCHf/x got something wrong, assume that you got something wrong. It’s true, sometimes PITCHf/x has glitches, and sometimes PITCHf/x misses pitches. However, far more often, you misjudge something you see with your eyes. Your eyes are pretty great, considering how things would be without them. But relative to the PITCHf/x cameras, your eyes are feet. By which I mean they’re things that can’t see. The list is going to start now. This, by the way, is a link to last week’s edition.

5

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It’s the completely unnecessary tag that gets me. Teheran knows he got the strikeout. Gerald Laird catches the ball cleanly, right off the dirt. Marte looks down and sees that the baseball didn’t get away. The umpire doesn’t hesitate to call the out, so Laird didn’t need to apply a tag. But still, as Marte turns around to return to the dugout all dejected-like, Laird is there to gently tap him on the chest. To point a finger at him, as if you say “You are out. You are this out. You swung at a pitch bad enough that I have to play it safe by tagging you.” It’s one kind of bad to strike out and then get thrown out running down to first. It’s a different kind of bad to strike out and then get tagged out by the catcher. And it’s still a different kind of bad to strike out and get tagged by the catcher for no reason. That’s just bullying. Like the Pirates really need to be bullied.

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The “agh cam” sounds about right for this particular slow-motion replay. One of the Pirates’ broadcasters asked the other, do you make a note of this for next time? To which the other guy responded, yeah, the pitcher will remember that the hitter chased a slider. It’s like, doesn’t everybody sometimes chase a low-and-away slider? Isn’t the book on every right-handed hitter to throw him a low-and-away slider in a two-strike count? Is there a single more obvious pitch in baseball? How little did the broadcasters expect that Teheran knew about pitching coming in?

4

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Colby Rasmus has batted 51 times this season, and 23 times, he has struck out. Four times, he has homered, but 23 times, he has struck out, which explains how he’s hitting .239 and slugging .565. Everybody knows that Mark Reynolds strikes out all the time, but Reynolds has made more contact than Rasmus. Everybody knows that Carlos Pena strikes out all the time, but Pena has made more contact than Rasmus. Everybody knows that Pedro Alvarez strikes out all the time, but Alvarez has made more contact than Rasmus. So far, Rasmus has hit the baseball with about 54% of his attempted swings. Put another way, Rasmus has hit the baseball with about half of his attempted swings. Jim Abbott hit the baseball with about three-quarters of his attempted swings. Jim Abbott had one hand.

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3

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What do you do here? As a fan, as a coach? Okay, Jay Bruce struck out. Jay Bruce strikes out. It was the penultimate out of a game the Reds were losing by three, with no one on base. But after Bruce swung and missed, the umpire didn’t immediately signal an out. Bruce would’ve seen the baseball at his feet, and he would’ve seen the catcher trying to quickly recover it. According to the game’s rules, Bruce had an opportunity to try to run down to first base, and if he made it safely, the out would effectively be erased. Bruce didn’t bother, and from the looks of things, Bruce didn’t even consider bothering. He just turned and left and got tagged on the bottom. Understandably, Bruce was probably frustrated, and it’s not like the odds were good he was going to reach. It’s not like the odds were good the Reds were going to rally. There was practically no reason for Bruce to try to run to first base. But coaches always talk about the value of making them make a play. If Bruce took off, the catcher would’ve at least had to throw down, and maybe the throw gets away. Maybe Bruce does reach. The probability of an out wasn’t truly 100%, and Bruce just willingly gave that upside up. Does Bruce deserve to be disciplined for not giving it his all, or is this just a case of playing it smart and not risking injury for basically no point?

If the latter, where does the line get drawn? How slim do the chances of success have to be to warrant not busting your ass? 0.1%? 1%? 2%? I find this to be an interesting thought exercise. Dusty Baker would probably find it a lot less interesting.

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Somebody get that kid right behind the umpire a couple phone books. I mean, not now. This is a game from five days ago. But somebody should’ve gotten that kid a couple phone books. Or maybe somebody did, and this was as high as he got. Should’ve used more phone books.

2

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What do you know about Ramiro Pena? Okay, that’s what I thought, basically nothing. What do you infer about Ramiro Pena based on this .gif, and this .gif alone? Probably that he’s aggressive, probably that he doesn’t have a very good approach. But, probably, that he can hit for some real power when he makes contact. Why else would he swing like that? That’s a mighty big hack for a guy at the bottom of the order. Now, here’s what the numbers tell us: over 362 big-league plate appearances, Pena has slugged three dingers, with a .062 ISO. In the minors, over seven seasons, he’s slugged 11 dingers, with a .072 ISO. Pena, for all I know, might have tremendous power potential within his body. But he never actually hits for power, maybe because this is a semi-accurate reflection of his approach. That’s the swing of a backup infielder. That’s not the swing of a guy who’s going to be a starting infielder.

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A fraction of a second from now, Pena will be standing where a left-handed batter would be standing, and the catcher will be standing where Pena was standing. It’s like the opposite of musical chairs.

1

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There’s something you can’t tell about this, based on the .gif.

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This was thrown in a 1-and-0 count.

Ichiro, someday, is going to be in the Hall of Fame. There’s not going to be a lot of question about it, and while some of that will have to do with his being the first Japanese position player to make a big US impact, most of it’s going to have to do with his US performance. Though Ichiro’s career is winding down, in his prime he was an absolute bat-control magician, hitting almost everything and generating hits against almost everything. He owns the all-time single-season hits record, and it sounds laughable today that, at Ichiro’s first US spring training, Mariners team officials were skeptical he’d ever be able to produce. In hindsight, one could interpret that as a hysterical error in judgment. But I’ve watched Ichiro a lot in my day, and I think I get it. I mean, I understand the feeling, I understand the skepticism. Because if you’ve never really seen Ichiro up close before, and you watch the way he goes about his business, from time to time he can look like the absolute worst hitter that you have ever seen. In more than one way, Ichiro is a miracle.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Tyler Greene
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Tyler Greene
3 years 4 months ago

Regarding Colby Rasmus, I have no comment.

chuckb
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chuckb
3 years 4 months ago

Absolutely hilarious line comparing him to Jim Abbott.

O's Fan
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O's Fan
3 years 4 months ago

Ichiro’s thinking about taking up cricket after he retires from baseball.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 4 months ago

He’d have had a better chance if he’d have sat back and tried to hit it off the bounce.

snack man
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snack man
3 years 4 months ago

I actually thought it was hubris and he was trying to hit it off the bounce.

Captain Obvious
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Captain Obvious
3 years 4 months ago

Jeff – here is a headline from Friday from the frozen tundra known as Canada

Erik Karlsson practises with rest of Senators

full story at

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/story/2013/04/19/sp-nhl-ottawa-senators-karlsson-practice.html?cmp=rss

Rangerbourne
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Rangerbourne
3 years 4 months ago

Beat me to it, O’s fan… Is it a deadball when it hits the ground or if he hit it on a bounce does it go for a hit?

Dave (UK)
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Dave (UK)
3 years 4 months ago

Not dead and would be a hit. Vlad once got a bloop hit on a pitch that bounced.

TIF
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TIF
3 years 4 months ago

Ichiro did it once, too, while playing in Japan. I remember seeing video of him lining a hit through the right side off a ball that bounced before home plate.

MGL
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MGL
3 years 4 months ago

If you can get a HBP after a ball hits the ground, which you can, and if you can swing and miss even after the ball hits the ground, and it counts as a strike, then surely you can hit the ball after it hits the ground, and it still would count as a batted ball!

david h
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david h
3 years 4 months ago

The phone books bit kills me. I also love how you can take a terrible Ichiro performance and turn it into “Ichiro is a miracle.”

Dave Cornutt
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Dave Cornutt
3 years 4 months ago

Which brings up an important point: when the Internet finally eliminates phone books, what will short kids sit on? A stack of Ipads?

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 4 months ago

What’s a “phone book”?

Dylan Bradbury
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Dylan Bradbury
3 years 4 months ago

There’s a kid sitting behind home who can’t see over the fence. In North America, it’s a custom to boost kids over things they can’t see with phone books.

Phone books are a book of listed people and their phone number, as you can imagine, they’re quite thick.

cass
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cass
3 years 4 months ago

This is the best in this series yet. The R.A. Dickey pic is the best.

Kirby Pucket's Ghost
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Kirby Pucket's Ghost
3 years 4 months ago

Lawrie has fear in his eyes

tyke
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tyke
3 years 4 months ago

knowing everything one might know about ichiro, if one were to see that very last picture on its own, one would think he just hit a soft grounder to short and the following .gif would show him beating it out for an infield single

Fantastic
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Fantastic
3 years 4 months ago

Great piece. Love FG.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 4 months ago

The R.A. Dickey picture is hilarious.

Also, the Pirates have yellow hats?

matt w
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matt w
3 years 4 months ago

Not most of the time. Those hats were 1970s throwbacks, I think.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
3 years 4 months ago

They are wearing the early 70’s mustard lids and uniforms on Sundays all season.

Dave Cornutt
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Dave Cornutt
3 years 4 months ago

Interesting bit about the Laird clip is that he tags Marte with the glove, but he still has the ball in his free hand…

Skylar S
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Skylar S
3 years 4 months ago

Not to nitpick, but he actually doesn’t. Look closely and you see him transfer it over.

Denard
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Denard
3 years 4 months ago

Who complains about gifs? Leave em behind. This site isn’t for everybody. Best to keep it narrow. Nothing that gets too big is that good, so I say weed out people any way you can.

Naveed
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Naveed
3 years 4 months ago

This comment is like a prose poem.

EmDash
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EmDash
3 years 4 months ago

Ramiro Pena had, two games earlier, hit a two-run homerun in extra innings to win the game for the Braves. (Yes, it was somewhat dumbfounding to watch; that game was an all-systems collapse for the Nationals.) I imagine that could make a young player change his approach for a few games to try to hit for more power.

MGL
Guest
MGL
3 years 4 months ago

As far as the tag goes, lots of catchers tag the runner even when they know that they caught the ball cleanly, and even if it is fairly obvious. What’s the down side? They are protecting against the rare occasion when the umpire misses the catch and thinks it hits the ground. We all remember AJ and Paul in Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS, right?

Lefty against lefty swings at terrible pitches, which most of these are, are excusable. That is why managers bring in LOOGY’s and why most lefty batters have large platoon ratios. They have a hard time picking up breaking pitches from lefties, especially side armers.

Righty against righty, though, like the Marte one? If you do that more than once in a blue moon, you are going to have trouble at the major league level. I was watching the Pirates/Braves game today and Marte did the same thing in his second AB (I think), but then later in the game, he was able to lay off some of those same pitches.

Clint Barmes, on the other hand, is pathetic on pitches like that. If it weren’t for the fact that he is still a pretty good glove man, he would not have a ML job. His hitting skills are just awful.

The worst that I can recall is Dunston, although there were other bad ones, like Galarraga, Joe Carter, and even Sandberg later in his career (I am sure I am missing plenty).

Utah Dave
Guest
Utah Dave
3 years 4 months ago

I watched the Pirates/Braves Saturday night and Barmes swung at two balls that were at least in the middle of the left hand batter’s box and about 3″ off the ground. Elegant, one-handed swing and he probably only missed the ball by a foot or so. Clint is very frustrating to watch at the plate.

Pirates Hurdles
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Pirates Hurdles
3 years 4 months ago

and then he gets two big hits on Sunday and does just enough to keep himself in the lineup. He was batting .095 Saturday night and you could see him miss my 2 feet on one of those pitches from my seats down the LF line.

The glove is great, but you can’t really get by with him (now) hitting .130.

Utah Dave
Guest
Utah Dave
3 years 4 months ago

The kid that needed the phone books in his seat so he could see is Mike Tomlin’s kid. He did get some lap time with his dad during the game. But Coach Tomlin might want to consider some new sunglasses. The one’s he was wearing looked like the one’s I had in 7th grade and I’m 50-years old. Nice, gigantic mirror sunglasses.

carp4prez
Member
carp4prez
3 years 4 months ago

Can’t believe there was a time when I was worried about Jon Jay taking over full time for Colby Rasmus, Jay is waaaay better.

rockymountainhigh
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rockymountainhigh
3 years 4 months ago

Please see Dexter Fowler’s lefty, one-handed screw job in the bottom of the 9th yesterday against Putz. It looked like a Nadal forehand with a half gainer thrown in.

Billy
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Billy
3 years 4 months ago

“Jim Abbott hit the baseball with about three-quarters of his attempted swings. Jim Abbott had one hand.”

I love Colby Rasmus, and I still think this has to be the single most hilarious comment I’ve ever seen.

David K
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David K
3 years 4 months ago

What I love about this series is that you start with the 5th wildest swing, and when I look at it, I think to myself “I can’t believe there were actually four wilder swings than this one.” And, obviously, there were!

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