ARLINGTON, TX: Phil Hughes #65 of the New York Yankees reacts to a home run by Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Continuing a recurring weekly series, in which we review the worst pitches, swings, and defensive plays in recent baseball action.
Welcome back to The Week In Worst, which is now officially a series. Last time, which was the first time, we reviewed all the action from opening day through April 18. This time, we review all the action from April 19 through April 28, making the title of the series a little less of a lie. Next time, we'll look at April 29 through May 5. Then the title of the series won't be a lie at all! We don't have to be completely honest yet, just as long as we're making progress toward honesty.
For those who might be new or who might have forgotten, this is a series dedicated to bad pitches, swings, and defensive plays. The bad pitches and swings are identified mathematically. The bad defensive plays are identified subjectively. Everything here could be argued, but then everything everywhere could be argued if you're feeling argumentative. Bark less. Wag more. We're all dogs.
On to the .gifs!
Worst Pitch (Location)
71.1 inches from center of zone
Last time, we identified the worst pitch as having been thrown by Jonathan Sanchez, which was fitting. Few pitchers have as much of a moral conflict with the strike zone as Jonathan Sanchez does. Here, we get Sergio Romo, who's basically the Cliff Lee of relievers. This is less fitting, but maybe Sergio Romo was just trying to get several balls out of the way at once.
So yeah, in Romo's defense, his cleat got caught on the mound:
That's a one-way ticket to Spikesville, and it's a total fluke. But not in Romo's defense, he got his cleat caught on the mound. That's embarrassing! The mound didn't change. Romo was doing the same thing that he always does. In this one instance, his muscle memory completely failed him. One hopes this isn't a sign of some developing neurological disorder. The Giants already had one bearded reliever whose brain doesn't work; the last thing they need is another.
Worst Pitch (Result)
I don't have anything real witty to say about this. Last time, the worst pitch was legitimately terrible. This is a first-pitch fastball from Phil Hughes that misses, but that catches the inner edge. It's not like he grooved it down the middle. With that said, Adrian Beltre stands sufficiently far from the plate that this basically was down the middle, and watch Russell Martin. He sets a target, and then when the ball's on the way, he very casually moves his glove over as if he doesn't expect the ball to get to him. After Beltre swings, Martin lowers his glove like he knew that was going to happen. Watching this .gif has allowed me to identify this as a worse pitch than I initially thought.
36.6 inches from center of zone
In an 0-and-2 count, Juan Pierre got a breaking ball way down and way away. Watch the catcher for an idea of just how far out of the strike zone this pitch really was. Pierre swung and somehow hit the ball, and the announcers gave him credit for protecting the plate in a two-strike count even though this pitch easily and safely could've been taken. But wait, it gets more amazing:
Juan Pierre swung at a pitch three feet away from the center of the strike zone, literally a full three feet, and not only did he make contact - he hit a grounder and singled. Statistically, this was the worst swing. Statistically, this was among the best swings. There's an example of a bad process with a good result. Kind of like having Juan Pierre as an everyday player on your team. Except with a good result.
Worst Swing (Honorable Mention)
43.7 inches from center of zone
This is an honorable mention because while it goes in the books as a swing, it wasn't actually an attempted swing on Jackson's part. Austin Jackson spent the offseason developing a new approach at the plate, and now he makes contact even when he's not trying to. Austin Jackson's new approach is amazing!
Worst Swing (Honorable Mention)
31.0 inches from center of zone
This is an honorable mention because while it wasn't the worst swing, it was the last swing of Philip Humber's perfect game, and it came in a full count. And then Brendan Ryan turned around to argue. Brendan Ryan's whole thing was that he didn't want to be the last out in a perfect game. He went too far around swinging at what would've been an easy ball four, and then he argued with the home-plate umpire instead of trying to beat the throw down to first. Based on Ryan's words, he didn't want to be the last out in a perfect game. Based on Ryan's actions, he desperately did want to be the last out in a perfect game.
Worst Defensive Play
Once again, I haven't watched all of the baseball, so I don't know if this is truly the worst defensive play. You can send me nominations at @LookoutLanding. But this is the worst defensive play that I saw. On first base, with a very modest lead, is Casper Wells. Not pictured is Miguel Olivo, on second base. Wells isn't about to attempt a steal. Danks tries to pick him off anyway. His throw sails over the first-base umpire, and it all happens while Adam Dunn isn't paying a lick of attention, presumably because he doesn't see any reason why Danks would try to throw to him. What we have is John Danks making a pointless and terrible throw to a first baseman who isn't looking at him. This really captures the spirit of what this series is going for.
The worst of the worst:
Romo (41 votes)
Hughes (26 votes)
Pierre (68 votes)
Jackson (2 votes)
Ryan (52 votes)
Danks (608 votes)
797 total votes