The Worst of the Best: The Wildest Swings of the First ~Half

Good day, whoever you are, and welcome to the second part of The Worst Of The Best’s first ~half in review. Right here is a link to the section with all of the posts in this series, starting from the first, naturally. This is the day after the All-Star Game, meaning it’s a day without major-league baseball. Thursday, too, will be another day without major-league baseball, and a common complaint is that the break is too long and there just aren’t any sports to watch. For one thing, the players themselves probably don’t think the break is too long. Players with things like “families” and “desires for a little downtime before facing the hellish, unforgiving grind that is the season’s home stretch.” Also, just because there’s no live major-league baseball doesn’t mean you can’t watch some new major-league baseball. That’s what the MLB.tv archives are for! That’s not actually what the MLB.tv archives are for, but, if you feel like it, go back to some date and watch a game you didn’t pay attention to. As long as you don’t see the final score, the game’ll be full of surprises. It’ll be new baseball to you, just like how a lot of the .gifs below are probably new baseball to you. A day without baseball doesn’t have to be a day you don’t learn something about baseball.

Earlier, we checked out terrible pitches. Now it’s time to check out terrible swings, by which I mean full swings — not attempted checked swings — that didn’t take place in hit-and-run situations. I don’t think a batter should be laughed at so much if he almost thinks better of swinging. I don’t think a batter should be laughed at so much if the swing decision is taken out of his hands. The swings you’re going to see? These batters should be laughed at, albeit probably from a distance, without their knowledge. Coming up: five swings at the pitches furthest from the center of the strike zone, as determined by PITCHf/x and me. We’re covering the whole season to date. Get ready to think about Vladimir Guerrero.

5

5KennedyCain

Three things that are perfect:

  1. As Kennedy was batting with runners in scoring position, the Diamondbacks broadcast started talking about the designated hitter. Steve Berthiaume didn’t really take a position, saying he was neither pro-DH nor anti-DH. Bob Brenly, however, voiced his opinion, and being an old-school sort, he’s opposed to the concept. Brenly strongly prefers the brand of baseball that forces pitchers to hit, because he finds it to be more interesting. As Brenly closed his argument, Kennedy took the fifth-wildest swing of the baseball season so far, and struck out. Brenly admitted he doesn’t much care for watching pitchers hit, but he likes the late-inning strategy. Does the latter offset the former? Is the latter even legitimate? American League starters are averaging 5.9 innings per start. National League starters are averaging 5.9 innings per start. In the AL, each team game has featured an average of 2.8 relievers. In the NL, each team game has featured an average of 2.9 relievers. There’s strategy in the AL and the difference between leagues is overblown. Except for the DH part. That’s a big difference, and it prevents things like Ian Kennedy swinging.
  2. After the swing, Kennedy doesn’t just toss his bat or drop it on the ground. He flips it, and he flips it seemingly with confidence. The bat soars majestically over the ground, completing more than one full rotation. I think there’s an argument to be made that this is an Ian Kennedy bat flip, which would mean we’ve now seen a bat flip for a swinging strikeout. This would top the Jack Cust bat flips for walks drawn.
  3. The guy in the hat and black shirt, walking behind home plate. He watches the action, he sees Kennedy flail, and he looks away, casually, without breaking stride. At most, that guy’s a DH supporter. At least, that’s a guy who’s watched a lot of pitchers hit.

5KennedyCain1

Ian Kennedy, unquestionably, is not a good hitter. He has just 28 hits to his name, 21 of those being singles, and he makes Chris Davis contact without generating Chris Davis results. But Kennedy, at least, is a reasonably disciplined hitter, if only relative to other pitchers. If not disciplined, then patient, if you consider those different things. Here’s his Texas Leaguers batter page for 2013. Scroll down to the chart for swings, and look at how they’re all grouped around the strike zone. All except for one. And then that other one, two feet away, that barely even fits within the parameters. Almost missed that one, by which I mean this one.

Immediately preceding the above pitch to Kennedy was the below pitch to Kennedy:

5KennedyCain2.gif.opt

Kennedy might’ve thought “he’s not going to do that again, not now that he’s in a 2-and-2 count.” Cain might’ve thought “he’s not going to expect me to do that again, not now that I’m in a 2-and-2 count, so I’m going to do that again.” Maybe this is an example of Matt Cain simply out-thinking Ian Kennedy in a showdown. Or maybe this is an example of Matt Cain screwing up and then Ian Kennedy screwing up worse.

4

4IchiroReynolds

We stick with the Diamondbacks, and with Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly. After this swing, Berthiaume exclaimed “that may be the worst swing in major-league history!” Meanwhile, Brenly openly laughed, and while he later said he probably shouldn’t be laughing, he continued to laugh. Because of the exaggerations and the laughter, no one cared to acknowledge that Miguel Montero literally picked and caught this pitched baseball with his groin. Then he handed the baseball to the umpire, which would be funny to an eight-year-old. “That baseball was in his groin!” It sure was, kid. Groins aren’t that gross. You know what is gross? Eight-year-olds.

4IchiroReynolds1

As I noted the first time I wrote about this swing, this didn’t come in a two-strike count. This came in a 1-and-0 count, meaning this came in a count in which Ichiro was ahead of the pitcher. Ichiro had the advantage, and he swung wildly at a pitch that bounced well in front of home plate, outside. It’s a clear example of Ichiro guessing wrong, and that isn’t unusual, because lots of hitters guess in different situations. Maybe the most remarkable part is that they seldom guess this poorly. But when this happens, it sure is embarrassing. Fortunately for Ichiro, he was in disguise, and anyone watching would’ve just thought the hitter was Jackie Robinson. “That Jackie doesn’t look so good anymore.”

Reynolds has a slider and it’s almost like Ichiro didn’t know about that. Here’s the very next pitch:

4IchiroReynolds2.gif.opt

“Let’s Go Fordham” in the background, upside down. I don’t have anything to say about that. I just feel like it ought to be acknowledged, and I wonder if holding the placard upside down is to be considered a sign of distress. Has something happened to Fordham? Oh, hell, I don’t care.

3

3SeguraBell1.gif.opt

Though the count was 0-and-2, and Bell wanted to try to make Segura expand the zone, Bell wanted to throw a pitch a little closer, a little more tempting. Out of the hand, this pitch was destined to be a waste. Though he was behind 0-and-2, needing to protect the zone at all costs, Segura didn’t have to swing at everything, regardless of location, and there was no reason to swing at a pitch in the dirt. Behind the plate, Miguel Montero knew a breaking ball was on the way, and he knew it could bounce, given the situation and the pitcher. Montero needed to be prepared to block, to get his body in front of the baseball in case Segura swung and missed. Three players were involved in this sequence. All three of them messed up, with the end result being Jean Segura reaching base on an ugly swinging strikeout. This is probably baseball at its dumbest.

3SeguraBell2.gif.opt

Segura, at least, is self-aware. He reached base safely in a critical situation, if the Brewers even still have critical situations, but he didn’t look happy about it. He knew how he got there — he knew he got there by chasing a pitch so wild the catcher couldn’t even catch it. Segura got away with an embarrassing mistake, like driving a block with your wallet on top of your car. If you remember and recover your wallet, kudos, but you were still an idiot. You did something idiots would do. If I were Ron Roenicke, and if Segura laughed about his good fortune, I would’ve gone out and pantsed him on the field.

3SeguraBell1

A subterranean worm from Tremors snatches the baseball out of midair and immediately slips back underground. “Hey, that’s our only one!” Bell exclaims.

3SeguraBell4

The baseball was thrown by that right arm. That right arm is in front of the other three people on the field. This is a rare and telling screenshot.

3SeguraBell2

This, also, is a telling screenshot. That little white speck is the baseball hitting the ground. That little man in gray is Jean Segura swinging intentionally at the baseball. From ordinary camera angles, it can be difficult to tell just how wild pitches are when they bounce in the dirt. We don’t really get an understanding of the depth. This pitch bounced in front of home by feet. Hold your hands up and estimate a distance of some feet. Are you thinking about a Subway sandwich? Now you’re thinking about a Subway sandwich. What would you put on your Subway sandwich?

3SeguraBell3

Jean Segura reached first base because the pitcher made a throw that bounced in front of its intended receiver. Segura almost had a chance to reach second base because the catcher made a throw that bounced in front of its intended receiver. It’s not impossible that one day we could see what’s effectively an inside-the-park home run following a dropped third strike. This is a thing that could happen, and all it needs is a wild pitch and three errors. Maybe even just two errors. This would, presumably, be the end of baseball, or at least the end of baseball .gifs.

2

2DavisAllen1.gif.opt

Let’s just go ahead and watch that one more time, slower:

2DavisAllen2.gif.opt

Here’s what we can assume: Davis was thinking fastball. He was thinking fastball, somewhere on the inner half, and he intended to punish it, with the Blue Jays trailing by a little, late. Not entirely unreasonable, given the count was 2-and-1 in Davis’ favor. But he wasn’t just thinking fastball — he was *certain* of the fastball, and as soon as he made up his mind, he shut his mind off. “No need to actually watch the ball out of the hand,” Davis figured. It’s fine to guess. There are counts in which it makes sense to guess, counts where the sequences tend to be predictable. But guessing isn’t supposed to be the end of it. There’s supposed to be a follow-up, where you’re sitting on one pitch, and then you swing at that one pitch if you get it and if you don’t get it you lay off. Either Davis forgot about that part, or maybe he was sitting on a terrible breaking ball low and away in the dirt and this was his best attempt to punish that pitch after looking specifically for it. At least then he would’ve been guessing right.

2DavisAllen1

At just the wrong moment, the man behind home plate in red isn’t paying attention. So that makes two people not paying attention, in this screenshot.

2DavisAllen2

Anguish comes over Rajai Davis’ face before he’s even fully completed his swing. Because I’ve never tried it, it’s always been a mystery to me how hitters manage to play and hit while wearing sunglasses. From the looks of things, it might also be a mystery to Rajai Davis. Here’s the next and final pitch of the at-bat:

2DavisAllen3.gif.opt

And Rajai Davis kept walking, to the dugout, to the clubhouse, to the parking lot, to the street, to the city limits, to the state border, to the sprawling wilderness. Rajai Davis is not a new man. He’s the same man, in a new place, where you’re never going to find him, and where he’ll never be reminded of what he used to do, and how it all came to an end.

1

1RasmusMoore

It’s not that Rasmus’ swing was ugly. That part is deceptive. This looks more or less like an ordinary swing by Colby Rasmus. And it’s not like his timing was off. He swung as if the pitch were a breaking ball, and he wasn’t really too much out in front. The problem was just that Rasmus missed hitting the baseball by several feet, because the pitch was more than a foot outside and bounced in front of the opposite batter’s box. If I were the Blue Jays, I would’ve immediately sent Colby Rasmus to an eye doctor, operating on the suspicion that something was terribly wrong. And if the eye doctor couldn’t find anything, I would’ve requested a scan of Rasmus’ brain, because this could be a symptom of an unwelcome growth. If it turned out that Rasmus was perfectly healthy, maybe he would’ve learned a lesson about plate discipline, since he would’ve attempted a swing that sent him to the hospital.

1RasmusMoore1

On the other hand, maybe Rasmus was right to swing, since Jose Molina could’ve framed this pitch for a strike.

1RasmusMoore2

Why, look there! On first base, it’s none other than Rajai Davis!

Davis: oh
Davis: oh man
Davis: what a swing
Davis: what a
Davis: remarkable swing
Davis: don’t see many swings like that
Davis:
Davis:
Davis:
jealousssss

1RasmusMoore3

After the strikeout, Molina attempted a quick pickoff down to first, narrowly missing Colby Rasmus’ head. All I can think about now is the image of Rasmus swinging and missing at this pitch and then immediately getting drilled in the face by a throw by Jose Molina, standing a few feet away. This is the happiest I’ve felt in weeks.

1RasmusMoore2

Rasmus: doo do doo do doo
Rasmus: dee de dee de dee
Rasmus: there you go, mister bat
Rasmus: oh, another bat
Rasmus: hey there, mister bat!
Rasmus: what have you been up to!
Rasmus: you look like a pretty good bat!
Gibbons: YOU HAD BETTER BE DYING




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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.


24 Responses to “The Worst of the Best: The Wildest Swings of the First ~Half”

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  1. Scobes15 says:

    Jeff Francoeur isn’t on this list? ERRONEOUS

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. BurleighGrimes says:

    This entire article is hilarious, and these GIFs are awesome.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Ron says:

    What about Cargo’s swing on Sale’s slider yesterday? That looked terrible.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Tom Steele says:

    Fordham University wants you to know that its campus is so thick that when you turn it upside-down the students don’t fall out.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Baltar says:

    With these two posts of yours plus Dave’s chat and two trade-value posts, this has been the best day of FanGraphs ever. So say we all.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. ssj316 says:

    Not surprised that the Blue Jays are #2 and #1 on this list? What does surprise me is that neither entry features Arencibia, who, as far as I can tell, decides whether to swing before the ball leaves the pitcher’s hands.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Billy says:

      I’m not as shocked that JP isn’t here. He never seems to hit the ball….but he also never seems to miss it by an alarming amount either. It’s weird that he’s one of the worst in the league at striking out, but I can’t recall many swings where I was left going “WTF!!!” I mean, I get mad, because the guy always strikes out when we need a hit, but never mad at by how much he misses.

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  7. Bleauj says:

    Rasmus and Davis have combined for 4.3 WAR and are, respectively, the first and fifth most productive position players on the Blue Jays. Oh, 2013.

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  8. Schuxu says:

    I guess this wouldn’t make the list for two reasons but is still very funny:
    http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/1697967/fat1373113539392.gif

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  9. Menthol says:

    I was hoping Panda’s swing and miss on a ball that went between his legs would show up on this list. :-(

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  10. BookWorm says:

    The image of Davis walking out of the stadium reminds me of an urban legend about NFL field goal kicker Gary Anderson. Anderson made every field goal attempt of the 1998-1999 regular season and then missed a field goal that would’ve won the Vikings the NFC championship. As the Vikings were jogging off the field and into the tunnel after the game, the legend goes that Anderson just kept jogging — in full pads and uniform — out into the parking lot and got in his car and drove away.

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    • Tchaikovsky08 says:

      Ughhhh don’t remind me. I was at that game and cried like a little kid when they lost in OT. Of course, I was 12, so I guess I shouldn’t be too ashamed.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. PioneerSkies says:

    “What would you put on your Subway sandwich?”

    Italian BMT, light lettuce, and mayo please.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Jay-R says:

    That Rasmus pseudo transcript had me in tears at work… god.. still giggling about it

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Josh Hamilton says:

    Why did I not make this list? I swung at crap every game! Here’s hoping I can make the list by year’s end!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Nick says:

    Now that was an entertaining post, thanks so much for the share. I definitely got my laughs for the night.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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