As baseball reached the halfway mark in the 2020 season, the hits just kept on coming. And by hits, I mean absolutely monster home runs that would have made even Babe Ruth just the tiniest bit jealous. It’s been a long week, so I won’t bore you with too much exposition. Prepare to sit back and marvel at the best bat flips Week 5 had to offer. Here… we… go!
8/25 – LAD @ SF
415ft, 107 mph, 34° launch angle
Tuesday night’s game between the Giants and Dodgers was a back-and-forth grudge match worthy of the two teams’ historic rivalry. It culminated in the Dodgers blowing four leads throughout the night (not a recipe for success I’m told), and losing in extra innings after Kenley Jansen gave up this game-tying missile to Brandon Belt in the bottom of the ninth. While Kenley has seen a slight return of the velocity of his cutter this year, Belt added quite a few more miles per hour to it when he sent this ball deep beyond San Francisco’s outfield wall in right-center. He knew it was long gone upon contact, and for the second time that evening dropped his bat with authority to stunt around the bases.
Rotation: Let gravity do the work
Brandon: Belted (booooooooooooo)
6. Yandy Díaz vs. Matt Shoemaker
8/21 – TOR @ TB
426ft, 104.8 mph, 24° launch angle
Yandy Díaz brought the smoke last Friday when he teed off against Blue Jays’ starter Matt Shoemaker in the 3rd inning to bring the Rays within two runs of Toronto. Shoemaker committed the cardinal sin of floating an 0-2 hospital pitch to Díaz with two outs, and the Rays’ slugger made him pay, taking him 426 feet to left field. You can visibly see Shoemaker react to the swing and bat fling here, immediately dropping his head as if he noticed a shiny coin on the pitcher’s mound. After giving the ball a ride, Díaz sent his bat flying out of his backswing to take his trip around the bases.
Rotation: Honestly he just flung that sucker
5. Trent Grisham vs. Brandon Bielak (x2)
8/22 – HOU @ SD
431ft, 106.5mph, 25° launch angle
The Padres inherited the mantle of “America’s Team” last week as they clobbered the Astros by banging FIVE home runs in the first two innings Saturday night. Trent Grisham was responsible for cracking two of those homers, both off of Brandon Bielak in back-to-back innings, before adding a third shot to his tally in the seventh. To be honest, we could have selected any of Grisham’s three bombs, as his bat flip for each was pretty much identical. Trust me, I watched all three until my eyes watered and I started seeing everything in a brown-and-gold filter. But this one just edged out the competition with a little more rotation on the bat flip and that sweet San Diego sunset lighting. Who’s your Padre?
Déjà vu (again): 9
8/21 – CWS @ CHC
441ft, 107.2 mph, 27° launch angle
Yasmani Grandal reasserted himself as one of the dirtiest bat dropping artists in baseball with this demoralizing toss following a long home run off of Cubs veteran Jon Lester. Grandal has consistently had one of the cleanest bat drops in the game since his days as the backstop in Los Angeles, and finally got a chance to uncork a good one on the South Side (okay fine, this is at Wrigley) when he got every stitch of this 90 mph cheese up in the zone. All anyone could do was sit back and watch while he crushed this one to lead the Sox to a 10-1 victory.
Rotation: 180° forward
8/22 – BOS @ BAL
426ft, 109.5 mph, 24° launch angle
Anthony Santander continued his impressive 2020 season with a game-tying bomb off of Boston’s Josh Taylor in the late innings Saturday night. After taking a quick peek to make sure the ball stayed fair, he looked back to his teammates in the dugout, satisfied with his handiwork in a clutch situation. After strutting a few steps down the line he let go with a lively yet tasteful bat toss that Taylor will be reminded of next time his catcher calls for a fastball up and in the zone. 93 miles per hour may be fast, but Santander’s hands were faster.
Strut: Runway ready
8/25 – BAL @ TB
436ft, 111.9 mph, 26° launch angle
Hunter Renfroe gave Tommy Milone the ol’ pogo stick flip after demolishing an 0-2 cookie to deep left field Tuesday night. Look at the almost perfectly vertical toss here, looking like a buoy rising to the surface after being held down underwater. You can’t teach that form. And while Tommy Milone was most definitely kicking himself for giving up that bomb, at least he had a front-row seat to the beautiful aftermath.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. vs. Gerrit Cole
8/26 – NYY @ ATL
473ft, 114 mph, 31° launch angle
In a battle of titans, only one can come out on top. And that’s exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon when the youthful superstar Ronald Acuña Jr. squared off against one of the best pitchers in MLB in Gerrit Cole. And the resulting outcome was a thundering drive deep into the cheap seats, as Acuña pretty much evaporated this ball 473 feet. The exit velocity off of the bat was a lightning-quick 114 miles per hour, or faster than I’ve ever driven a car, for additional perspective. And when you draw blood from a King, it’s just cause to celebrate. Acuña did just that as he trotted to first, elevating his bat to put the perfect punctuation mark on a perfect swing.
King Cole: Dethroned (okay, maybe not, he’s still Gerrit Cole)
Until next week!
Photo Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)