When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, it’s either because it’s an accident, or the pitcher wants to set the batter off-kilter. Either way, balls in the dirt are not hitter friendly — that’s why there’s a strike zone. Otherwise, baseball would be called “extreme golf” and everything would look a lot different.
Odubel Herrera, doesn’t seem to care about pitches in the dirt, though. The Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder saw one he liked on Tuesday night and sent it way into the seats for the unlikeliest home run we’ve seen in awhile.
The Phillies were facing the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, and they had a 3-1 lead when Herrera came to the plate in the fifth inning. Julio Teheran was on the mound for the Braves, and he didn’t seem eager to give Herrera anything to hit. That strategy backfired pretty hard when Herrera went down to get another Teheran pitch that was low and outside the strike zone.
Herrera looked like he was swinging a golf club, which is the only way a swing can look when you’re trying to hit a pitch that’s essentially on the ground. And that’s why it’s so surprising that the ball landed in the seats for a home run. Honestly, it’s surprising that Herrera made contact at all with a pitch that was so low. It’s a little difficult to tell exactly how low that home run pitch was, but that’s where Statcast can help.
— #Statcast (@statcast) August 9, 2017
Odubel Herrera hit a home run on a pitch that was 8.76 inches off the ground! That’s slightly shorter than the height of a normal bottle of beer. How did he hit that!?
Herrera’s golf course home run gave the Phillies an even more decisive lead against the Braves, and they’d go on to win 5-2. And in case you’re wondering, there was definitely an Odubel bat flip.
"Look at da flick of da wrist" pic.twitter.com/QJu6uNKTW6
— El Torito (@OdubelsBatFlips) August 9, 2017
Herrera got a lot of flack in the first few months of the season for his devil-may-care style of play combined with some pretty miserable stats. Through May 31, Herrera was batting .218/.262/.326, a far cry from the player he was in 2016. But since then he’s back to being that All-Star caliber hitter. Since June 1, Herrera has racked up a .338/.380/.571 line, bringing him to .282/.325/.456 on the season. Oh, and he’s got 34 doubles and 12 home runs to boot.
Herrera hasn’t changed the way he plays — he’s still bat flipping and wearing his heart on his sleeve. But let’s face it: bat flips are more fun to watch when they’re attached to home runs instead of fly balls.
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