Hitting a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher is probably pretty hard. Maybe you think differently, but when I ponder the fact that major league hurlers are throwing pitches with widely different movement profiles, at different speeds, it starts to seem a bit miraculous that anyone makes contact at all, much less obliterates a baseball into the stands with some regularity. The thing about baseball, though, is that swinging and missing isn’t the end of the world: you can do that three times before your result at the plate is locked in, while no one can undo a dinger once it’s been hit. The Braves seem to be well aware of this with their offensive approach, which seems to be explicitly tailored to exploiting this tradeoff.
Sometimes, seeking liftoff instead brings levity. That’s what this post is about. It’s basically going to be embeds of some very silly swings.
First up, Adam Duvall against Adam Ottavino. Did you ever have any doubts that Duvall was a guess hitter? If so, I’m not sure why, but this should put any such doubts to rest.
Unsurprisingly, Duvall struck out in this PA. Perhaps more surprisingly, he actually took a ball before doing so.
Michael Harris II was great pretty much all year against right-handers, but he’s definitely got some (non-fatal) flaws at the plate. And of course, everyone has flaws when they face Jacob deGrom.
Harris actually had an even “worse” strikeout against deGrom back in New York on pretty much the same pitch (but even further inside); however that was a weird check swing where he mostly “swung” because he was falling over the plate trying to get away from the ball, so it’s not as silly as this one.
Here’s Matt Olson guessing super-badly against former teammate Cole Irvin.
I don’t understand how Travis d’Arnaud fouled this ball.
Also, I never have any idea what Marcell Ozuna is doing, but this is a special kind of “what the hell?”
Good ol’ d’Arnaud here, no foul this time. Bat path completely incognizant of the ball.
I know it’s Max Scherzer, but the jokes with Eddie Rosario and eye surgery write themselves after this one. (And yes, this came after he returned from eye surgery.)
The video makes it hard to see, but this pitch bounced either ahead of the plate or off of it. I miss you, Ozzie Albies.
I think Albies fouled this pitch on a bounce. Or pretty close to a bounce, anyway.
Not all silly swings are whiffs or nearly-whiffs. Some... are weirder.
You remember this, right? Did you think this was going to be on here? This was a great result on horrible process from d’Arnaud, and somehow delivered unto the Braves a key win in New York.
I’m impressed that Matt Olson hit this ball, even though he didn’t hit it well.
Similarly, this pitch had a ton of movement on it and somehow William Contreras both swung at it and put it in play (well, barely).
And then you have Matt Olson showing some elite plate coverage... in a bad way.
Okay, but like, how in the world do you hit this eephus pitch into the ground, Dansby Swanson? Seriously, how?
And then you have Rosario doing the same thing... on an actual pitch from an actual pitcher. Oy.
When your team’s hitters swing at horrible stuff, we call it “silly.” When your team’s pitchers get those types of swings, though, you talk about their nasty, wicked, disgusting stuff. That’s how it works, right?
Collin McHugh gets a lot of mileage out of his very slow slider, and a lot of times it looks like this... but rarely are hitters this egregiously off.
Sometimes it even does this to lefties:
Kyle Tucker doing an Eddie Rosario-esque swing here, against an A.J. Minter cutter that had neither the height nor the width of the plate.
Braves fans got used to this from Raisel Iglesias, but Kyle Wright has a changeup that, despite its relatively infrequent use, can make both lefties and righties look silly.
The only game-ending pitch in this series of clips, this was actually the highest pitch thrown by a Brave that got a swing this year.
Just fractionally lower, but with a way more emphatic whiff:
A lot of things about this are emblematic of Ian Anderson’s season: he missed badly, the hitter swung anyway, and he later walked the batter anyway despite going up 0-2 after this pitch.
Also, this is just weird: a lefty-lefty in the dirt changeup from A.J. Minter, that nonetheless gets the desired result.
Speaking of weird, check out Spencer Strider completely messing up a slider, only to have it hit into the ground.
Video proof that Jeff McNeil is annoying:
And lastly, Juan Yepez somehow didn’t hit this changeup on the ground. It’s maybe not quite Matt Olson hitting that soft liner into the shift from above, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Bonus: It’s not a silly swing if you do this to the ball!