The Worst Swings of the First Half of the Season


© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports activities

It’s a great factor that baseball writers don’t get examined on our skill to do fractions. Since time immemorial, we’ve known as the All-Star break the midway mark of the season. It’s not. Each crew has performed at the very least 90 video games, even in a season with a delayed begin. In reality, that is the season the place calling the All-Star break the midway mark would make most sense, and it’s nonetheless flawed.

Why will we do it? Partially, it’s as a result of it certain can be handy if the break actually did mark the midway level. Dividing the season into two halves makes for some enjoyable evaluation, and it really works quite a bit higher when the division happens at some extent with an occasion round it, slightly than some random Tuesday in early July. It’s additionally as a result of it creates one thing fascinating to write down about throughout a spot when recreation play would in any other case be stopped. There’s useless air yearly round this time; filling it with “within the first half of the season” tales makes good sense.

I’m rambling, although. The purpose is, it’s the All-Star break, and I wish to write an article about horrible swings. What was I going to name it, the worst swings of the primary 55.5% of the season? That’s not catchy sufficient. “First half” simply sounds higher. And so right here, perpetuating a nasty sportswriter generalization, are the worst swings of the primary half of the season.

Just a few floor guidelines: I’m specializing in swings at fastballs. Dangerous swings at breaking pitches are humorous, however they’re comprehensible. These pitches had been designed to deceive, they usually completed their objective. Certain, perhaps swinging at a slider that bounces within the reverse batter’s field isn’t a great look, however I can perceive how a hitter would possibly find yourself there. Baseball is an unfair recreation. The pitches transfer humorous.

If you swing at a fastball that’s nowhere close to the plate, one thing altogether totally different is occurring. Fastballs largely fly true. They may rise barely greater than anticipated, or fall off the plate barely within the case of sinkers, however for probably the most half, what you see is what you get. That’s why hitters hunt fastballs, and why they chase far much less usually and make contact extra usually in opposition to them. If you happen to go full Javier Báez and take a minimize at a fastball within the filth, that’s on you. The pitcher didn’t idiot you; you fooled your self.

With that in thoughts, I’ve remoted the 5 worst swings of the primary half of the season. For probably the most half, I caught with one goal measure: how removed from the middle of the strike zone the fastball in query was when it crossed the plate. You’ll be able to’t actually pretend that; if the pitch is nowhere close to the plate, then it’s nowhere close to the plate. I’ve additionally added a number of subjective parts – rely issues, state of affairs issues, and so forth. I additionally exercised somewhat judgment directionally, in order that I may gather unhealthy swings that seemed totally different slightly than 5 at excessive fastballs, or one thing like that.

There’s yet another judgment name to make. For an instance, let’s take a look at the one worst swing at a fastball this season, as measured purely by distance from the middle of the strike zone:

Not fairly what you anticipated, huh? That’s technically a swing, as a result of for those who look carefully, the ball hit Andrew McCutchen’s bat, not his physique. In case your bat makes contact with the ball, you swung, no matter the way it went down. That’s clearly not the worst swing of the 12 months up to now – it’s not even a swing. However it does a great job of showcasing why I wanted to make use of some discretion. Verify swings don’t rely fairly as a lot as full swings. Non-swings don’t rely in any respect. With out additional ado, let’s get to the swings.

5. Christian Vázquez vs. Aroldis Chapman

Let’s begin issues off with a nasty and in addition uncommon swing. Most unhealthy fastball swings are at one in all two kinds of pitch: a excessive four-seam fastball or a sinker that tails inside. Via an absence of command, Chapman created a mashup, a four-seamer that began low and in, and simply saved going. It is a actually unhealthy pitch to swing at. There’s no “it began over the plate” right here. There’s no “effectively, it was within the strike zone after which it jumped.”

Chapman threw a garden dart, in essence. It was by no means wherever close to the zone. I sympathize with Vázquez right here. It’s Aroldis freaking Chapman up there. Perhaps he doesn’t have pinpoint management anymore, however when he reaches again and goes for it, he nonetheless eclipses 100 mph. Response time is treasured when that’s the case; as greatest as I can inform, Vázquez acknowledged fastball and began swinging earlier than he realized the placement. However nonetheless, oof. That’s a extremely unhealthy swing on a pitch that nearly nobody would provide at.

4. Willians Astudillo vs. Colin Poche

It wouldn’t be a listing of unhealthy swings with out Astudillo making an look. Poche is a daily on lists like this, too; his fastball has large vertical motion, which induces a whole lot of unhealthy swings at pitches that find yourself far above the strike zone.

Would a backyard selection excessive swing by a swing-happy hitter in opposition to a chase-heavy pitcher make this record? Maybe not. This pitch is fairly far out of the strike zone, certain, however for those who alter for the gamers concerned, it’s much less of a standout. I’m not grading on a curve, but when I had been, I would give bonus factors for this. Right here’s the primary pitch of the at-bat:

I like how Astudillo holds his bat within the zone he’s about to swing at. “Throw it right here,” I can think about him saying, and Poche obliged. And eventually, the final pitch of the at-bat was fairly humorous too:

Three fastballs. Nothing even approaching the zone. Three swings. It’s the Willians Astudillo Expertise in a nutshell.

3. Jose Altuve vs. Wyatt Mills

Out of a way of decency – and in addition an aversion to routinely wincing 25 occasions whereas I edit this text – I’m not going to point out you the place that foul ball hit Altuve. Suffice it to say that he was on the bottom for a minute or two after that pitch. Are you aware how arduous it’s to get inside on Altuve? Take a look at the place he arrange for this pitch!

Nonetheless, Mills got here inside and by some means obtained a swing – a painful, painful swing. Altuve was supremely bored with repeating the expertise. When play resumed, he arrange even farther from the plate:

Dangerous swings: they aren’t simply unhealthy on your on-base proportion, they’re unhealthy on your well being! In reality, by that definition, this could be the worst swing of the 12 months.

2. Andrew Vaughn vs. Casey Mize

I virtually skipped this one, as a result of it’s so just like quantity 4, however Vaughn’s mixture of horrible determination and shocking contact is value seeing. Bonus factors for placing that one in play, but additionally an enormous pile of adverse bonus factors for swinging at it within the first place. I can at the very least perceive the place Vaughn is coming from right here; Mize’s four-seamer is comfortably the simplest of his pitches to make contact with, and with a runner on third and fewer than two outs, making contact is the secret right here.

That’s all effectively and good – but it surely’s fairly robust to do a lot with a pitch at eye degree. That’s not even an exaggeration; that pitch was 5 toes off the bottom. Vaughn stands 6-foot flat, and he was crouched down. That pitch was legitimately at his eyes. I’m very impressed that he by some means made contact and at the very least gave himself an opportunity at staying alive – as you possibly can see within the GIF, he thought he had fouled that one off – however swinging at a fastball that would wish to hail a reasonably costly cab simply to search out the strike zone is the precise definition of this record.

1. Jorge Alfaro vs. Scott Effross

Goodness gracious, that’s a nasty swing. Effross might need hit Alfaro and compelled in a run if he may solely maintain again. In Alfaro’s protection, Effross obtained a ton of horizontal motion on his sinker, and he’s usually a tough pitcher to sq. up. His sinker behaves extra like a secondary pitch than your common reliever’s. In reality, of all of the swings at horrible pitches in my database (I minimize them off at an arbitrary distance out of the zone to keep away from having to obtain each pitch thrown this 12 months), that sinker had the second-most horizontal motion.

Nonetheless, Alfaro will get first place right here, as a result of earlier in the exact same at-bat, the pitch with the most horizontal motion within the database once more made Alfaro look silly:

Idiot me as soon as, disgrace on – effectively, nonetheless disgrace on me when the fastball is that far off the plate. However doing it once more after already realizing what was coming, and on a pitch that far out of the strike zone? The second “half” goes to have its work minimize out for it; Alfaro is the front-runner for worst swing of the 12 months.

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