Spring training is just around the corner, but we can’t last that long without another GIF Tournament. This 32-pitch free-for-all features eight pitches apiece from 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Starting next Monday, we’ll host The Nastiest 32 Pitching GIFs from 2015 to 2018 Tournament.
Now, there was no shortage of GIFs to choose from. While 2018’s elite eight were already laid out, there were three other seasons of GIFs to decide on. Naturally, there were plenty from 2015, 2016 and 2017 that didn’t make the cut. Here are the pitches that were in the conversation to represent 2015, but didn’t make the final cut. Which pitch deserved a place in the Tournament? Vote and let your voice be heard!
2015 marked the arrival of the man now commonly known as Thor, Noah Syndergaard. Even in the very beginning, it was clear he was not of this Earth. Safe to say, this fastball is an accurate representation of the lightning he chucked around in 2015, and continues to throw.
While this swing might lead you to believe otherwise, Jose Abreu is actually a very good hitter. The thing is, you could be the greatest hitter of all time, but you still would only have a one percent chance of hitting this slider from Corey Kluber (that still might be generous odds). What makes it such a difficult pitch isn’t just the movement: Kluber starts it right down the middle and it dives right into the deep end of the lefty batter’s box at the last second.
Now we all know one Corey Kluber slider isn’t enough. It’s kind of like Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies or Oreos (whichever you prefer, I go with the former), you can’t just have one. This one is a back-foot slider started on the outer half. Yeah, you read that correctly. Lefties or righties, Kluber’s disrespect for hitters is unyielding.
This is a bad look for Justin Maxwell, there are no two ways about it. As much as Adam Ottavino had this slider packed up in a nice, tight package, there’s never an instant where it looks like this would hit Maxwell. Maybe he was trying to sell it knowing full well he had no shot at hitting it? He wouldn’t be the first guy (*cough* Derek Jeter *cough*).
It’s a good thing Mike Zunino was already set up just off the plate for this Roenis Elias curveball, because this is getting past him if he starts any closer to Elias’ glove side. And there was no chance of Kevin Kiermaier laying off this. Elias’ arm slot makes it look way too appealing out of the hand.
This has to be the quickest 92 ever recorded. Maybe it’s Ian Desmond‘s gigantic swing or the late action on this Aaron Nola fastball, but something about this pitch makes it so comforting to the eye. For the viewer, of course, not Desmond. He had no chance. The pitch started belt high and dropped just below his knees!
Chris Johnson thought he wanted this pitch out of Carlos Martinez‘s hand. One thing he forgot, the Pedro Martinez look alike (in terms of his delivery) brings it and is incapable of throwing anything straight. And 2015 was one of Martinez’s best seasons, so you know he was handcuffing as many hitters as he could, much like he did to Johnson.
It’s not every day someone makes Bryce Harper miss a pitch by a foot on a strikeout to end a game (well, maybe more like six inches, but it might as well be a foot). Jeurys Familia probably has this ball in a trophy at home with a plaque saying, “The Ball That Struck Out The Guy Who’s Going to Make More Money in Two Seasons Than I Will My Entire Career.” Oddly specific, but factual. It may seem long for a plaque—regardless if it’s for a baseball or a platinum album—but you’d be surprised what people can do today with all the new-fangled machinery out there.
Which one of these pitches most deserved to be included in next week’s tournament?