The Week In Worst: When Baseball Goes Wrong

Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera scores after stealing home against the tag of Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

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

Hello there, friends, and welcome to another special edition of The Week In Worst. Last week's edition was special because it was the last edition of the first half, and because you were reading it(!). This week's is special because it's limited, there having been just three days of baseball between Sunday and Saturday. I'm not considering anything from the All-Star Game in here, because to do so would require that I go back and watch some of the All-Star Game again and that just isn't happening for the rest of my life.

Three days of baseball. It hardly seems like anything, and indeed, I very nearly didn't bother with a The Week In Worst this week at all. But then something happened Saturday night that simply can't go un-spotlighted. Un-highlighted? Un-talked about? This is my first writing in two full days so I've gotten a little bit rusty. Were it not for the events of Saturday night, events you already know about, this post might not exist, so think about that, and think about what you might be doing at this very time were it not for this post. Would you be working? Would you be reading a different post? Would you be in jail? We'll just never know. Maybe you can get answers to all of your questions in the afterlife but this would be one weird question to ask in the afterlife.

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, July 8 through Saturday, July 14. This selection is ... it's not very good. I don't mean the baseball highlighted isn't very good baseball. That would be the whole point. The baseball highlighted isn't not very good baseball, for the most part. Three days of baseball isn't enough time for the truly, extraordinarily bad. Just remember: it isn't my fault. It's those damned players.

Worst Pitch (Location)

Pitcher
Tommy Hanson

Date
July 14

Location
66.0 inches from center of zone

Hansonwright

I don't watch a whole lot of Tommy Hanson, and so when I identified this pitch, I immediately thought "well sure, look at the way he's throwing that curveball. It's like he tried to aim it too carefully." He didn't reach back very far, and he kind of flung the pitch toward the plate with his forearm. But then I rewound the video a little more and found that the pitch right before this pitch was a curve that Hanson threw the same way, and that made David Wright swing and miss. This is the way that Tommy Hanson throws curveballs. Sometimes those curveballs are really bad. Look at how bad this one was!

Hansonwright1_medium

That little puff of dirt well in front of home plate is where the baseball first landed. From this perspective, it's hard to tell just how far in front of the plate that is. Perhaps this other perspective will be of more use:

Hansonwright3_medium

There is a lot of dirt in between home plate and the start of the grass. Tommy Hanson's curveball tried to tunnel through the front of it. That is a bad pitch, even in a two-strike count, but the more I watch it the more I wonder whether it was intentional. Here's some reference:


And now Tommy Hanson:

Hansonwright2_medium

By throwing a wild pitch, Hanson created a distraction that allowed him to quickly check his armpit while people were looking somewhere else. You wouldn't think that a guy who's ever looked like this would worry about how he smells, but then I thought we were beyond judging people by their appearance. How shallow are you?

Worst Pitch (Location), Honorable Mention

Pitcher
Trevor Bauer

Date
July 8

Location
64.4 inches from center of zone

Bauerherrera

Trevor Bauer is a very complicated, unorthodox pitcher. That's a big part of what's made him a fairly well-known prospect, even if he might not feel quite so fresh on account of Tim Lincecum and his weirdass delivery. Because there's so much that goes into every pitch that Bauer throws, it makes some intuitive sense that when things go wrong, they ought to go very wrong. The mistake cascades on down the chain. With a simpler pitcher, a mistake is like a typo. "Whoops, screwed something up, let me fix that." With Bauer, a mistake is like accidentally closing your browser and turning your computer off. "Wow, that got out of hand fast." This isn't in any way accurate and Bauer makes normal mistakes the way other pitchers make normal mistakes, but I wasn't sure how else to sell a breaking ball in the dirt and now here's a picture of that breaking ball where you can't see the ball:

Bauerherrera_medium

Enjoyable about the .gif is the way both the catcher and the umpire look down to the runner at third base. Miguel Montero seemed surprised to have caught the baseball, and the umpire seemed surprised that Montero caught the baseball. Was the runner on third base surprised? That's a question you'll have to ask in the afterlife. In the afterlife people must ask so many stupid questions. "If I asked her out, would Julie and I have eventually gotten married?" Who cares, you're dead now.

Worst Pitch (Result)

Pitcher
Jeremy Accardo

Batter
Edwin Encarnacion

Date
July 14

Result
Homer, 467 feet

Accardoencarnacion1

What you don't see in the .gif is that this was a 1-and-2 splitter. That pitch might not be so terrible were the count, say, 2-and-0. It's kind of down, and kind of away, while being clearly in the zone. In 1-and-2 though, yep, that pitch got what it deserved. Accardo's always been fond of his splitter. Splitters act a lot like changeups. Changeups are best when thrown to opposite-handed hitters, not same-handed hitters. One notices that, while Accardo is a righty, he's allowed a career .816 OPS to righties, and a career .593 OPS to lefties. And now you know that about Jeremy Accardo, raising the number of things you know about Jeremy Accardo to one.

How impressive was this dinger? This impressive:

Accrdoencarnacion_medium

That's a picture of center field. The ball is in flight, and the center fielder has stopped playing pretend. The ball would eventually land in the restaurant. The restaurant is what's at the very top of that screenshot. Above the car in the giant advertisement. People in the restaurant aren't accustomed to ending up with baseballs they didn't purchase themselves.

Accardoencarnacion2

Woman: WHAT DO WE DO
Friend: Pick it up?
Woman: I AM FREAKING OUT
Friend: I have picked it up.

Worst Swing

Batter
Salvador Perez

Date
July 13

Location
36.3 inches from center of zone

Perezjones

There was nobody on base, and Perez struck out swinging. The pitch was in the dirt, and Perez could see that the catcher didn't handle it cleanly. Perez didn't make even the slightest effort toward first base, swinging and walking back to the dugout while allowing the catcher to simply tag him out in the process. Perez was so embarrassed by his humiliating flail that he didn't think it would be right to even open the door to the possibility that he could reach base. Perez is a man of his principles, and among his principles is that a bad process oughtn't have a good result. This was one bad process.

Perezjones2_medium

An alternate explanation is that the swing immediately broke Salvador Perez's spirit and left him depressed.

Perez: IMA KILL THIS
Perez: IMA KILL THIS PITCH
Perez: KILLY KILLY KILLY
Perez: /swing
Perez: this bat came from a tree
Perez: I killed a tree
Perez: I mean less than a tree

Worst Defensive Play

Players
Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis

Date
July 14

Dodgers1

Sometimes, The Week In Worst just features a lot of really bad baseball. However, if there were a The Week In Best, this play could also qualify, as the Padres stole a game against the Dodgers with incredible awareness and baserunning. You've all seen this already and you already know all about it. It was 6-5 Dodgers in the top of the ninth, with two outs and two strikes. Jansen had just thrown a strike by Alexi Amarista. He paused to consider what he wanted to be his next and hopefully final pitch, and then he ended up having to make that pitch sooner than he thought. It was terrible and the Padres scored two runs because Jansen made a bad throw and then failed to follow it up.

In all fairness, this wasn't completely on Jansen; he should've covered home, but Ellis should've noticed that Cabrera was running in the first place. Also, who expects this? Ever? Jansen and Ellis might've noticed right away, but it would take me a solid 30 seconds to understand that the runner is actually running in that situation. That's insane! Nobody is that insanely aggressive! I just wish this crowd shot would've lasted a half-second or so longer:

Dodgers3

Padres fan: uggghhhhhh
Padres fan: f***
Padres fan: f*** f*** f***
Padres fan: this f***in team
Padres fan: wait what
Padres fan: what the actual f*** is he doing
Padres fan (not shown): LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Padres fan (not shown): haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Padres fan (not shown): Got you motherf***ers!
Padres fan (not shown): Padres fever!

There was a sinister side to this play that nobody's really talking about. Twice in the last two years, Jansen has been hospitalized for heart palpitations. The Dodgers stuck him in a high-intensity role anyway, and then Everth Cabrera took off, catching Jansen by total surprise with a baseball game on the line. That would send a normal, healthy man's heart racing. Everth Cabrera was practically trying to kill Kenley Jansen with his own heart. This rivalry runs deep.

And the umpire. That is without question the worst umpire call I have ever seen in my entire life. It doesn't matter that he changed it. Kenley Jansen threw the ball away to home, the catcher turned to look for the baseball, and the umpire called the runner out, thinking that was the end of the game. The title of this series is The Week In Worst. This play was a hit on two different levels. I mean holy shit. Holy everything.

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