The Week In Worst: When Baseball Goes Wrong

LOS ANGELES, CA: Shortstop Dee Gordon #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to first base in the first inning for an out against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Continuing a recurring weekly series, in which we review the worst pitches, swings, and defensive plays in recent baseball action.

Welcome to the newest edition of The Week In Worst, a weekly series in which we show you baseball players performing so poorly you might think you could be one. Understand that these clips were carefully selected for their incredible badness and the majority of major-league baseball is way better. You could not play major-league baseball. You could not play professional baseball. If you were to attend a tryout you would only embarrass yourself. The player on your team you're always picking on for being terrible is better at baseball than you are at anything. Remember that and never forget it.

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. Because I don't watch every pitch of every game, I can never be sure if I've identified the worst defensive play of the week, but I always give it a good shot. Please feel free to leave similar or worse defensive plays in the comments below.

To the .gifs. The baseball considered: Sunday, May 6 through Saturday, May 12. If it didn't happen during this window, shut up about it, nobody cares.

Worst Pitch (Location)

Pitcher
Brandon Beachy

Date
May 12

Location
62.4 inches from center of zone

Beachygreene

Brandon Beachy attended high school in Kokomo, Indiana. Following high school, he enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan University and played first base, third base, and pitcher for the baseball team. After his junior year he went undrafted and only signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent in 2008. He debuted with rookie-ball Danville and climbed the ladder as a swingman, never finishing in Baseball America's top 100 prospects and never ranking higher than eighth in the Braves' system. Beachy got a glimpse of the majors in 2010 and then established himself in 2011, posting the highest strikeout rate for any starter in baseball. Every scouting director in the league saw Beachy throw this pitch and exclaimed "SEE?!" to no one while exaggeratedly shrugging.

Worst Pitch (Result)

Pitcher
Ian Kennedy

Batter
Carlos Beltran

Date
May 8

Result
464-foot homer

Kennedybeltran

The idea behind this category is that we're looking to identify meatballs, since one figures it's the meatballs that get slugged for the longest dingers. This might be the meatiest of meatballs. I mean:

Kennedybeltran_medium

Kennedy throws Beltran a caricature of a meatball. He basically just lobs the ball up there, belt-high over the middle of the plate, and I think my favorite part of the .gif is how if you look at it closely, Beltran almost seems annoyed as he swings and follows through. Kennedy throws the terrible pitch and Beltran's like "oh great thanks a lot, now if I don't hit this for a dinger I'm going to look like a real so-and-so." Kennedy put everything in Beltran's hands and this was pretty much the only outcome with which Beltran could avoid utter humiliation.

Worst Swing

Batter
Starlin Castro

Date
May 11

Location
45.6 inches from center of zone

Axfordcastro

This is one of those times where I can't tell if it's better to look at the .gif or if it's better to look at a screenshot. I'll let you be the judge:

Axfordcastro1_medium

Look at where the ball is. The ball has already bounced! It has already bounced that far in front of home plate! Look at Castro's body! Look at everything! Look at this next screenshot!

Axfordcastro2_medium

This makes it look even worse! That blur between Castro's legs - that's the baseball. Notice how it is angled up, as opposed to down, like usual. That is because the baseball bounced at the very right of this frame and has now returned to the air, having gotten a little dirty. Castro whiffs and is completely off balance. This is on a 2-and-2 pitch in the ninth inning of a tie game. Batters are instructed from a young age to protect the plate in two-strike counts but Castro misinterpreted that to mean that no baseball is to get behind him under any circumstances. It would make more sense in another sport but there aren't any wickets back there.

I could stop here and move on but then I wouldn't be being honest. I have to tell you the truth - there's still more to this play.

Axfordcastro2

In our second edition of The Week In Worst, we identified as the worst swing a terrible swing by Juan Pierre that resulted in an infield single. That made things weird. This makes things weird. Starlin Castro attempted the worst swing of the week. At the end of the play, Castro was standing on first base, and the Cubs had scored a run and taken the lead. It's almost enough to make you think that Castro did it on purpose - that he recognized the pitch as a probable wild pitch, and swung because he knew he could get to first. A handy rule of thumb is that if you try to explain something uncommonly stupid as actually being an act of impossible brilliance, then in truth it was just uncommonly stupid. Err toward stupid.

Worst Defensive Play

Player
Dee Gordon

Date
May 7

Gordonerror

Dee Gordon is hands-down one of baseball's most exciting players. A Google search for "Dee Gordon" + "exciting" yields more than 130,000 hits. A Google search for "Dee Gordon" + "scintillating" yields some hits. Dee Gordon is a very exciting young player to watch. But "exciting" isn't always good. A plane crash is exciting. Watching a hawk pick up somebody's house cat is exciting. Dee Gordon is involved in a lot of things that are unusual and interesting, and Dee Gordon has a .250 OBP and nine errors.

Every part of this .gif is a treasure. Gordon boots a routine two-out grounder and does the awkward hunched-over spin-around that's impossible to make look cool. He hurriedly throws the ball to first and the throw looks fine until you realize it's actually so badly off-target you wonder if he was trying to throw to second instead. Juan Rivera recovers the ball and does as much as he can, but he's Juan Rivera, so he can't do much. He throws a bouncer to second, and there's Gordon again to make just another mistake. This play was book-ended by Dee Gordon being terrible. The .gif concludes with three Dodgers in simultaneous pursuit of the baseball. What do you think about all this, fortuitous base-runner Angel Pagan?

Gordonerror2

"I am a Giants player and I am on a base!"

Worst Defensive Play (Honorable Mention)

Player
Irving Falu

Date
May 6

Quinterofalu2

This isn't in the same universe as the Dee Gordon play above. This play was actually a decent idea, as Royals catcher Humberto Quintero tried to catch Derek Jeter napping off second base. The problem is that Quintero didn't stop to check if his shortstop was paying any attention, or if he was also napping along with Derek Jeter. Quick background: this was Irving Falu's major-league debut. He is 28 years old, and he'd been in the minors since 2003. In Falu's first-ever major-league plate appearance, he tripled off Phil Hughes. In his second-ever major-league plate appearance, he singled off Phil Hughes. A few minutes after the single, Falu got hit near the junk by a thrown baseball he never expected. Falu went hitless in his remaining two plate appearances and the Royals lost to the Yankees 10-4. And that is how a major-league debut can turn on a dime.

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