With the 2021 postseason officially in the rearview mirror and Major League Baseball staring down the barrel at an indeterminate winter of labor negotiations, there’s no better time to celebrate some of the most entertaining and explosive moments of the last MLB season with Pitcher List’s annual Bat Flip THUNDERDOME!
If you followed the Best Bat Flips series throughout the year, you got a front-row seat to some of the nastiest celebrations in the league week in and week out. Now, it’s your turn to vote on the most thrilling bat tosses, flips, drops, and cartwheels in 2021, to determine the single best batting celebration of the season.
Starting today and running through Friday, you will be able to cast your vote each day for the best bat flip of the year. Here are the Thunderdome parameters:
- Bracket matchups have been randomized
- You will be voting on the best batting celebration, which includes the bat flip/drop as well as anything the hitter does running down the first base line (e.g. pounding their chest, yelling at the dugouts, etc.)
- You can only vote on a matchup once, so make sure you pick the one you absolutely want.
- Voting will continue until 12:00 a.m. EST the following morning.
To the bracket!
Kicking off the 2021 tourney are Jeff McNeil and Trevor Story, who jumpstarted the brand new campaign with a pair of high-flying flips way back in April. McNeil lit Twitter on fire with this bat toss following a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Anthony Bass and the Marlins. It was a no-doubt shot off of the bat, and McNeil leaned back and sent his lumber flying through the air as he celebrated with his teammates looking on from the home dugout. Meanwhile, Trevor Story’s bat flip punctuated a back-breaking grand slam against the Phillies at home in Denver and flowed smoothly out of his backswing until the bat came to its natural rest in the grass along the third base line. It was an absolute missile, and another example of Story having some of the smoothest bat flips in baseball.
I hope you’re feeling warmed up, because we are officially leaving the frying pan and diving headfirst into the fire. Brian Goodwin steps into the box with one of the most ridiculous bat flips seen in baseball in 2021, accentuating a walk-off blast that sent the South Side into a frenzy during the dog days of August. It’s entirely possible that Goodwin’s bat flew higher than his actual home run, and his flip was reminiscent of this infamous moonscraper from Willson Contreras last year. It’s an intimidating matchup for any slugger to face in the first round of the Thunderdome, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s the indomitable hero of this season’s World Series, Jorge Soler.
Soler set the tone of the World Series early in Houston, with this towering blast up and out of Minute Maid Park in Game One. The three-run missile gave Atlanta an early lead, and Soler fed the surging momentum with a monumental bat drop. While relatively subtle, Soler’s celebration was charged with excitement, and he followed it by pounding his chest and pointing at the Astros’ turf in front of him, making the statement that this was Atlanta’s year. And, to his credit, he was right.
Nick Castellanos just has a knack for demolishing baseballs in unfortunate situations. Alas for the Pirates, the unfortunate situation in question was a tense 2-2 deadlock in the seventh inning of their matchup with the Reds in April. Castellanos proceeded to unload on a low fastball from Pittsburgh reliever Sam Howard and sent it soaring high and deep into the starry Cincinnati night. Castellanos then sent his bat spiraling away, spinning it like a top as he raised his arms and roared, pumping up his teammates. Castellanos squares off in the first round with last year’s Thunderdome Champion, the spellbinding Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis once again left baseball fans wide-eyed in 2021 with a seemingly endless supply of thrilling moments, enough to make it incredibly challenging to narrow down the best of his best. One of the jewels of Tatis’ campaign came in a day game against Robert Dugger and the Mariners, who he proceeded to take deep for a bases-clearing grand slam in late May. Tatis, far from a stranger to the spotlight, coolly played off his clutch blast by slowly strutting down the line, his face obscured by his sleek mirrored shades like a runway model. At long last, Andre 3000 finally had an answer to his pivotal question, “What’s cooler than being cool?”
Not all bat flips are built the same, and every once in a while, a disruptor comes along to turn the game on its ear. Enter Taylor Trammell and his historical unveiling of the first-ever double bat flip in 2021. It arrived in a crucial moment on a tense Saturday afternoon during the last weekend of June—the White Sox were clinging onto a game-and-a-half lead in their division, while the Mariners were just fighting to stay in striking distance of a Wild Card. With the game knotted at two runs apiece, Chicago turned to their star closer Liam Hendriks to shut the door in the top of the ninth. Trammell apparently had other plans, and jumped on a 1-2 hanger, booming it deep into the right-field bleachers. With a flick of his wrist, Trammell flipped his bat up in the air, before catching it and flipping it again, this time overhanded, and sending it tumbling away, all the while the stadium recoiled in shocked silence. Only Trammell can say if the second flip was premeditated or just a spontaneous reaction to tossing the bat too close to his body, but the result was the same: one of the most creative celebrations of the 2021 season.
Trammell’s double flip faces off against Jurickson Profar and a downright graceful toss against San Francisco, which in the moment was eclipsed only by Profar’s beaming grin. Profar launched his bat in a high arcing heave, resulting in a glorious and elegant spiral as the utilityman embarked on his trot around the bases.
At this point, it might be fair to say the Mariners were tired of facing Fernando Tatis in 2021. The young phenom flexed his power when he tattooed this 2-1 pitch from Chris Flexen to the opposite field, extending the Padres’ lead over the Mariners to 7-1 in just the second inning. Tatis almost looked disappointed with the pitch for a brief moment after admiring his home run, before breaking back out into a smile and turning his bat end over end in a dazzling flip.
Tatis is joined in the first round showdown by his fellow top shortstop in Carlos Correa, who seemed to thrive on outrage as he powered the Astros to their third World Series appearance in five years. Correa came through again in Game One of the ALCS against Boston, when he guessed right and swatted a 2-2 pitch into the infamous Crawford Boxes beyond left field. With the momentum now swung definitively in Houston’s favor, Correa sent the crowd into an uproar when he posed at home plate, tapping his wrist like he was late for an appointment. It was a cheeky gesture reminiscent of NBA star Damian Lilliard’s signature “Dame Time” celebration, and a defining moment of the 2021 postseason.
Adolis García took the American League by storm in 2021 with his penchant for monster home runs and even bigger bat flips. In a Rangers season sacrificed to rebuild, García stood out as a bright spot, especially after the team traded fan favorite Joey Gallo at the deadline. And it’s easy to see why, when he was rattling off filthy bat flips like the one below a few times a week.
Opposite García is one of the brightest young faces of Major League Baseball in Ronald Acuña Jr., who provided his team with a handful of exhilarating moments in the season’s first few months before injuring his ACL in mid-July. Acuña’s third inning smash off of Pirates’ starter Wil Crowe was one such moment, especially when accounting for the pageantry that followed it. After sending Crowe’s 1-1 offering out to the cheap seats, Acuña unleashed a nasty hovering bat flip, immediately followed by what can only be described as an homage to the scene from Mission Impossible: Fallout when Henry Cavill reloads his fists.
Few hitters in baseball can downright obliterate a baseball like the reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper. With a swing bordering on being too violent for television, Harper terrorized pitchers all over baseball, sending 35 balls over the fence in 2021. But despite his current status as one of the most prolific power hitters in the sport and his reputation for theatrics, Bryce Harper rarely lets loose on bat flips, often opting for nonchalantly dropping his bat in the dirt instead. Luckily, he made a glorious exception on August 6, when he scorched a missile out to center field to extend the Phillies’ lead in the late innings against the Mets. Harper stopped to admire his impressive blast and slowly stepped down the first base line before gripping and ripping his bat through the air and pounding his chest.
Jesse Winker offers an equally impressive flip in their first-round matchup, this time coming at the expense of Nabil Crismatt and the Padres bullpen. Winker bashed an offspeed pitch that caught too much of the zone, driving it deep into the bleachers in right-center. His reaction was immediate, letting the bat tumble harmlessly out of his hands and into the clay at his feet like a spent shell casing.
In the final matchup of round one, Juan Soto takes on Tim Anderson in a heavyweight bout between two of the most entertaining young players in baseball today. Soto continued to build on his nearly unparalleled career trajectory in 2021, finishing as the NL MVP runner-up in his age-22(!!) season. One of his more memorable swings tied what would become a wild back-and-forth contest between the Nationals and Padres leading up to the All-Star Break. Soto tracked the ball as he shuffled to first base, and smoothly twirled his bat once he was satisfied it had left the yard.
Soto has his work cut out for him, however, as he faces off against perhaps the largest moment of the 2021 regular season, Tim Anderson’s iconic walk-off home run into the corn at this year’s inaugural Field of Dreams game. Following an intense eight-inning bloodbath that left the Yankees clinging onto a slim one-run lead entering the bottom of the ninth, Tim Anderson stepped to the plate in a situation many only ever dream about in their backyards. With the tying run on first base, Anderson jumped on the first pitch he saw from Zack Britton, promptly banishing it to the eternal cornfield. It was a Hollywood ending in Iowa, one that Anderson perfected with an ice-cold bat drop and Vince Carter-esque taunt.
And with that, the Thunderdome is set. Be sure to sound off in the comments and on Twitter with some of your favorite picks and most contentious takes, and don’t forget to check in again tomorrow to see who advanced to the Electric Eight! See you soon.