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

I still don’t really know what I’m supposed to do in these introductions, and I suspect it would be unprofessional to use this section to throw out links like this. I guess for the time being I might as well just repeat myself, since I’m at a loss and nobody reads these for the introductions anyway. Hey you guys! This is the second part of the fourth edition of The Worst Of The Best, and here’s last Friday’s wild-swings article. You’re going to see the five swings from the past week at the pitches furthest from the center of the strike zone, as determined by PITCHf/x and me. Only included are full swings — not checked swings — and I’m also going to make a point of excluding swings on hit-and-runs, since those aren’t really up to the hitter. Maybe they’ll earn honorable mentions. I haven’t actually encountered one of those yet.

For the purpose of this series, I don’t care about funny-looking swings where the hitter loses his balance and falls down. So don’t look for those in the body, although you’re free to post them in the comments because they’re still hilarious and embarrassing. And as I noted earlier, don’t expect to see these posts next Friday, since I’ll be out of town and, more importantly, not at a computer. I’m going to go ahead and guess I couldn’t compose a post like this from a smartphone. That sounds like the terms of a prison sentence. The Friday after, we’ll be back in business, and now on this particular Friday, we’ll proceed with the list, in the usual descending order. I think this has been enough words.



Clint Barmes is batting .140. He has two walks, two doubles, and he’s been hit by one pitch. It seems to me that Barmes is the National League version of Brendan Ryan, and Ryan just got himself benched by a team that isn’t playing for anything. Four years ago, Clint Barmes socked 23 dingers. I’m writing down these Barmes facts because I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say about something this dreadful. I will note the situation. Barmes came up with a runner on second, and he was given the bunt sign, because the Pirates figured Barmes was going to make an out anyway so he might as well make his out productive. Shortly thereafter, a wild pitch moved the runner from second to third, and the bunt sign was taken off, and Barmes went down swinging. But the runner did technically advance on Barmes’ watch. If Barmes weren’t so bad at hitting, maybe Gearrin doesn’t throw a slider so far outside that Evan Gattis can’t catch it. In a way, you could say Barmes moved the runner up, just like he was supposed to. Great success!


As a rule of thumb, you know a batter screwed up when you can take a screenshot of him looking like he’s poking a baby rattlesnake with a stick. Barmes is getting on everybody’s nerves. Check out the usher after Barmes goes down:


I’ll grant that I’m not familiar with the behavior of ushers in a lot of ballparks. I’ve never been to PNC, and I’ve never interacted with their field-level ushers, so I don’t know if they’re basically just fans with name tags. But in my experience, when it comes to on-field performance, ushers are unanimously positive and supportive, trying to spread cheer rather than make sarcastic gestures and critical remarks. They are, after all, employees. Here, a PNC usher watches Barmes flail away and, for a moment, he throws up his hands in shrugging frustration. That usher has seen too much Clint Barmes. That usher has seen too much Pirates. Barmes and the Pirates have gradually eroded the usher’s mandated patina of warmth and exposed his sardonic interior. It’s only fleeting, but that’s how it starts.

Oh! And for funsies, here’s the previous pitch:


You’ll get him next time, Clint Barmes!



First pitch. Let’s just go ahead and…


Trumbo: Fastball
Trumbo: Fastball fastball fastball
Trumbo: Gonna throw me a fastball
Trumbo: Gotta build off the fastball
Trumbo: Pitcher’s best pitch is his fastball
Trumbo: Fastball fastball
Trumbo: Fastball
Trumbo: This is gonna be a fastball


Trumbo: Got me
Trumbo: Won’t get me again
Trumbo: I’m on to this guy
Trumbo: Fastball
Trumbo: Fastball fastball fastball
Trumbo: Gonna throw me a fastball
Trumbo: Gotta build off the fastball
Trumbo: Pitcher’s best pitch is his fastball
Trumbo: Fastball fastball
Trumbo: Fastball
Trumbo: This is gonna be a fastball


Trumbo: A wise guy, eh
Trumbo: Fool me twice
Trumbo: Fastball



I imagine, as we do this all season, we’re going to see a lot of two-strike breaking balls from same-handed pitchers. That’s just the reality, and at some point it’s probably going to get a little boring. This, then, stands out from the expected norm, because this is a non-two-strike breaking ball, from an opposite-handed pitcher. This is a slider that was labeled for Dominguez’s back foot, and Dominguez decided, yeah, that’s the one. That’s my pitch. The first pitch of the at bat, for what it’s worth, was a fastball over the plate for a called strike one. That one wasn’t Dominguez’s pitch. Not according to Dominguez.


I don’t even know where to find the ball in that picture. If you look in the stands, you’ll notice that not very many people are actively paying attention. Dominguez might also have just taken this pitch off, because how else do you explain the following, stolen shamelessly from Texas Leaguers:


That pitch was never headed for the strike zone. It was thrown from a low angle by a lefty and it just swept right across toward Dominguez’s legs. I can understand how that pitch would’ve looked a little unusual, relative to normal pitches thrown from normal angles. I cannot understand how that pitch looked like it was worth trying to punish. The only thing Matt Dominguez punished was himself. (pause for message to sink in)

Dominguez was drafted 12th overall in 2007, and in two different years he was considered a top-100 prospect by Baseball America. He’s been a third baseman all along, and he’s shown outstanding ability in the field, with a powerful and accurate arm. The only minor-league season in which he finished with an OPS north of .750 was 2008. He did that damage in Single-A, and in the higher levels he struggled to finish above .700. Dominguez is at .693 in limited time in the majors. What a defender, though. And what else could you want from a third baseman, but defense?



When Rickie Weeks came up to the plate, there was nobody out, and Ryan Braun was on first while Jean Segura was on second. When Rickie Weeks prepared for this pitch, there was one out, and Jean Segura was on first while Ryan Braun was in the dugout. I’ll forgive Weeks, then, for his sloppy swing and disapassionate body language, because at that point he, like everybody else, must have been wondering just what in the f*** had just happened in a major-league baseball game.


Sure wasn’t a good swing, though. Good thing literally nobody would’ve noticed.



Mike Trout’s on pace for a 7.7-WAR season, even though his offensive numbers are well below where they were a year ago. See, Trout’s good at everything, so even when his hitting is only above-average, he can still make a hell of a contribution with his baserunning and with his defense. We should note, though, that Trout hasn’t shown an incredible ability to make contact. He hasn’t posted any incredible strikeout-to-walk ratios. I wouldn’t say Trout has weaknesses, but he is a human baseball player, and here we see him having taken the wildest swing of an entire big-league week. The elite are not immune, because the elite screw up, a lot like the non-elite do. The elite just screw up less often. You can think of good players as either doing more good things, or fewer bad things. Neither one is wrong.


Remember, even the players with the lowest O-Swing% will still swing at balls. Sometimes they’ll swing at really obvious balls, and here Trout chased a breaking ball that didn’t even reach the plate on the fly. It should tell you something when a hitter swings at a pitch that a catcher can’t receive cleanly. Provided that catcher isn’t Miguel Olivo. Then the only thing it tells you is that a pitch was thrown. Mike Trout struck out, and he looked foolish doing it.


And also he reached base. Always run it out, kids.

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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10 years ago

I love the followups on all the little details, like the usher or running out the strikeout. Nobody does GIFs like Sullivan.