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 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 2016 and 2017, but ultimately fell short. Which pitch deserved a place in the tournament? Vote in the poll at the bottom of this article to let your voice be heard!
Generally speaking, catchers know what pitch is coming. When they don’t, it’s pretty obvious to everyone. That didn’t seem to be the case with Salvador Perez on this Kelvin Herrera slider, but he looked pretty shaky here. Maybe he didn’t expect that much movement. It didn’t look like Manny Machado did either, or maybe he thought it’d be too much work to go after this pitch since we all now know hustling really isn’t his cup of tea.
Andrew McCutchen thought he had Josh Osich’s fastball lined up perfectly. He didn’t account for the fact that Osich marinates his hands in three cups of butter. That’s how he gets that insane run. It also makes for major skin problems on sunny days. Luckily, it’s usually dark out by the time he enters the game.
Rich Hill may only live on two pitches—one being a fastball that’s not exactly fire—but man, his curve is nearly impossible to touch. Just ask Brad Miller. Poor guy thought he had a hanger inside for a second, only to realize he’d just struck out on a pitch a foot-and-a-half outside the zone.
When Steven Wright is healthy, he’s as tough as anyone in the league to hit against. Furthermore, he is the hardest pitcher to catch when healthy, just ask Ryan Hanigan. Wright’s knuckler is consistently good, though inconsistent with regards to how it moves. Hitters should be allowed to swing at this thing with a cricket bat—even then they wouldn’t have much of a chance.
Top of the second inning and you’re brushing off Brock Holt with a vicious two-seamer like this? That’s when you know you’re in for a good day—even though Masahiro Tanaka has two on when he makes this pitch. When you can establish this pitch early in the game like Tanaka does, no one stands a chance.
In an era where sliders are more about depth than horizontal action, Sergio Romo’s slider is unique in today’s game. He has some depth, but just ask Chris Johnson if the depth on this slider was what had him moving his hips like Shakira. He won’t lie!
It’s not often that the shape of a pitch pretty much exactly moves with a pitcher’s arm action, but Yu Darvish’s slider certainly does here—minus the recoil, of course. There’s plenty of break on this and it’s late, but it just seems so fluid and natural. It’s just…it just feels right, ya know?
Between the depth and how Zach Britton gets on top of this sinker, Salvador Perez has no shot. Although Britton’s arm-slot isn’t different from any other time he throws the ball, there’s something about this pitch. Maybe it’s because this pitch is more depth and not so much run, but it feels like Britton throws this thing from the top of a mountain.
Justin Turner wasn’t happy with this Adam Ottavino slider being a called strike. Keep in mind, he thought this pitch was going to catch him in the lips up until the very last second. So combined with that, Turner was probably thinking that Ottavino cheated. How else could he make a ball move that much that late? Or, there’s the (I guess) more obvious option: Turner thought this wasn’t a strike. In which case, he needs to figure it out. Unless you’re in Siberia, that’s a strike. (I don’t think they play baseball in Siberia, so, technically, nothing is a strike.)
Talk about a heat check. It honestly looks like Corey Kluber decided to flip this fastball in there, like he was in a wiffle ball game where he was either dealing or getting smacked around. (The thing is, this fastball moved just like a wiffle ball, too.) In this case, he was shoving against the White Sox, something he’s done a few times in his career.
The movement on this Alec Asher fastball was nice, but what was really special about this pitch was the slight buckle in Matt Wieters’s front knee. He thought he was getting a free pass in a game where his old team embarrassed his current team. Instead, he got embarrassed by some running gas—which was also low-key dotted up.
Ryan Schimpf is smart. Schimpf knew he had zero chance at this Darvish curve. Better to take it and pray the umpire is an idiot. Unfortunately for Schimpf, the ump followed Darvish’s curve—which started above his head—all the way into the zone.
Which one of these pitches most deserved to be included in the tournament?