The Week In Worst: When Baseball Goes Wrong

OAKLAND, CA: First baseman Brandon Moss of the Oakland Athletics drops the ball, committing an error allowing Nate Schierholtz of the San Francisco Giants to reach first base safe at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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

Hello friends, this is the latest edition of The Week In Worst, probably, and you are reading it. I appreciate the fact that you're reading it, because without any readers this would be a whole lot of wasted time. I mean, I get to laugh at the .gifs, and I might seek out and prepare the .gifs just for myself, but all the words? I wouldn't bother writing all the words if it weren't for readers. All of the words are for you. All of these words are for you. I appreciate you, and I hope you appreciate my appreciation.

Now, when I'm preparing this every Saturday and Sunday, I get a little disappointed if the worst pitches or swings aren't as bad as I'd like them to be. This is a recurring feature intended to showcase the truly terrible, and not just the ordinary bad. I feel like it reflects poorly on me if the worst pitches or swings aren't funny to look at. This week, I don't think there's anything spectacularly horrible about the worst pitches or swings. But it's out of my hands. I can't control how bad baseball players play over the course of a week. So don't get frustrated with me -- get frustrated with them. Or get the opposite of frustrated with them, because God forbid baseball players put together a relatively competent week. It's not like they're supposed to be the greatest baseball players in the entire world or anything.

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, June 17 through Saturday, June 23. On Sunday, June 24, I observed a pair of comically bad defensive plays. You will not see them here, but you might see them next week. Wait until next week! As if you have any choice but to wait until next week.

Worst Pitch (Location)

Pitcher
Jonny Venters

Date
June 23

Location
57.8 inches from center of zone

Ventersaviles

With two runners on in a close game, Venters got ahead of Mike Aviles 0-and-2 and buried a slider in the dirt. He was probably trying to bury a slider, although maybe not as deep as he did. This was an unremarkable pitch, as it was literally unremarked upon during the broadcast, and this was the worst pitch by location of the entire week. What a fantastic week for baseball pitchers!

A week ago, the worst pitch by location was actually a hair closer to the center of the strike zone, but it looked a lot worse. Amazing how much better major-league pitchers look when Daniel Bard and Kyle Drabek aren't two of them.

Here's the obligatory ball-in-dirt screenshot:

Ventersaviles_medium

Mike Aviles' evasive maneuver was to stick his butt out. Using your hand, cover up Aviles' body except for his shoulders, arms, and head. Looks like a perfectly normal batting stance. Now take your hand away. Surprise! His butt is sticking out!

Worst Pitch (Location), Honorable Mention

Pitcher
Barry Zito

Date
June 19

Location
50.7 inches from center of zone

Zitotrout

And now you know what it looks like when Barry Zito overthrows. He badly misses his spot and his fastball goes 84 miles per hour. Ahead of Mike Trout 0-and-2, Zito was looking to throw a high fastball, as suggested by Hector Sanchez. Zito reared back thinking "I'm going to blow him away." Then he delivered the pitch and he was like "oh right". Let's pause that pitch:

Zitotrout_medium

Angels broadcast after the pitch:

Little bit high, one ball and two strikes. That was the bread and butter for Barry Zito for many many years as a member of the Oakland Athletics. The high fastball, not overpowering, but the high fastball and the big curveball.

Giants broadcast after the pitch:

Very high, 1-and-2.

The Angels broadcast is still trying to find interesting things to say about Barry Zito. The Giants broadcast has been broadcasting about Barry Zito for five-and-a-half years. The only interesting thing the Giants broadcasters have left to say about Barry Zito is that it's been five-and-a-half years.

Worst Pitch (Result)

Pitcher
Tyler Thornburg

Batter
Edwin Encarnacion

Date
June 19

Result
Homer, 115.4 miles per hour off the bat

Thornburgencarnacion

On June 19, Tyler Thornburg was making his major-league debut, having been promoted straight from double-A. Going into the top of the sixth, he had a 4-2 lead, and he retired Brett Lawrie to lead off. Then Colby Rasmus hit a home run. Then Jose Bautista hit a home run. Then Edwin Encarnacion hit a home run. Then Thornburg was removed.

Thornburgrasmus_medium

Thornburgbautista_medium

Thornburgcoach_medium

Coach: So hey let's maybe stop throwing them fastballs over the middle of the plate
Coach: Y'hear?
Coach: All right
Coach: Go get 'em kid

Thornburgencarnacion_medium

Coach: I hate kids
Coach: I hate all kids
Coach: I hate my kids

Worst Swing

Batter
Chris Davis

Date
June 23

Location
37.6 inches from center of zone

Jacksondavis

Davis: oh my god oh my god oh my god
Davis: oh my god oh my god
Davis: oh my god oh my god oh my god
Davis: hittable 0-and-2 fastball yesssssss

Jacksondavis_medium

Davis: gonna punish
Davis: gonna punish gonna punish gonna punish
Davis: I'm talking downtown!
Davis: Pull the trigger!

Jacksondavis2_medium

Davis: wait what
Davis:
Davis:
How did you do that?!
Davis: That's amazing!
Davis: The baseball was going straight and then it wasn't!
Davis: Wow!
Orioles hitting coach: /mouth agape
Orioles hitting coach: /mouth agape
Orioles hitting coach: /saliva drips out of mouth
Davis: (to dugout) Did you guys see that?!

Worst Defensive Play

Player
Brandon Moss

Date
June 23

Mossgiants3

I was watching this game live, and as this play happened, I was perplexed. Pablo Sandoval pulled a ball that got by Brandon Moss at first base. All right, understandable, it looked like a hot-shot off the bat. Moss was shown going after the ball in foul territory and bending down to retrieve it. Then the camera switched to the baserunners, then the camera switched back to Moss, and somehow the baseball was further away from him than it was in the previous shot. It wasn't clear what had happened until FOX aired a replay from a different angle:

Mossgiants1

Posey: wait wait wait
Posey: I've got something for this
Pagan:
Posey:
A rolling stone gathers no moss
Posey: And a slipping Moss gathers no baseball
Posey: !
Pagan:
Pagan:
Posey:
A slipping Moss gathers no baseball!

Brandon Moss is a converted outfielder, which kind of explains why he looked like he did in the play above, and why he looked like he did in the play below, which happened just minutes after the play above.

Mossgiants2

It's pretty well established that whenever an outfielder switches positions to the infield, he completely forgets everything he knows about how to play baseball, including how to catch a baseball, and what a baseball looks like.

Worst Defensive Play, Honorable Mention

Player
Johnny Damon

Date
June 18

Damonphillips

Brandon Phillips pulled a double down the third-base line. Johnny Damon ranged over to field the double, up against the side wall. Instead of fielding the double up against the side wall, Damon elected to bodycheck the side wall, injuring himself in the process. He then ran after the ball looking just about as stupid as possible and Phillips came all the way around to score. This is just a summary of what happens in the .gif, included only because I needed to have words under the .gif. Stop reading these words and just look at the .gif.

Worst Defensive Play, Honorable Mention

Players
Doug Fister, Delmon Young

Date
June 22

Tigersburnett

Fister threw a ball away fielding a bunt, and while that's bad, that's not bad enough to qualify for this category on its own. Pitchers throw bunts away entirely too often. This was a run-of-the-mill error, that set up an extraordinary error later on:

Tigersburnett2

As far as I could tell, they never ran a close-up camera angle of Delmon Young. Young ran over to get the baseball after the errant throw, and then something happened, like he got up to throw and realized he forgot to get the baseball. And that's the story of how Rod Barajas scored from first base on a sacrifice bunt.

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