Detroit Tigers fans can be excused if they stopped paying attention early in Monday’s 15-6 loss to the Twins. It was a dreary affair. Tigers pitchers gave up 14 hits and 11 walks, and Detroit batters didn’t get a hit until the 5th inning.
Things did get entertaining at the end of the day when utility man Harold Castro took the mound in the 9th (he has now officially played every position but catcher). And then the apotheosis of Akil Baddoo continued with his remarkable 9th-inning grand slam.
But there was also a brief moment of levity to begin the top of the 8th when Gregory Soto unleashed a positively LaLooshian fastball:
It’s the highest thrown ball by a Detroit Tigers pitcher in the Statcast era. The beat writers had some fun with it, and it inspired David Adler at MLB.com to write a piece about the wildest pitches ever.
And of course it inspired us to steal his idea. Now, enjoy the wildest offerings from Detroit Tigers pitchers in the Statcast era!
The Other Highest Detroit Tigers Pitch
Bruce Rondon – 9/16/2016 – 7.38 feet above the plate
Ahh Bruce Rondon, the hardest-throwing Detroit Tigers pitcher this side of Joel Zumaya. Big Bruce was in the middle of his best season as a pro, but he wasn’t at his best in this game. Corey Kluber held the Tigers to just five hits (though two of them were Justin Upton home runs) while Mike Napoli homered and doubled off Michael Fulmer in the worst outing of his Rookie-of-the-Year campaign. Perhaps that explains Rondon’s misfire to Napoli here. Catcher James McCann asked for the ball up, and Rondon…obliged.
Now, let’s ignore the curvature of the Earth, the laws of physics, and the properties of solid matter for a moment. Rondon delivered this pitch at about 9:45 PM Eastern Standard Time. If we assume his 97-mph offering continued at the same velocity and trajectory, it would’ve sailed east of Columbus just before 11 PM, skirted the western edge of Knoxville around 2 AM, and skidded to a stop in Auburn, AL at about 4:20 AM, presumably in the dorm room of recently enrolled freshman pitcher Casey Mize.
The Lowest Detroit Tigers Pitch
Daniel Norris – 8/6/2019 – 3.23 feet below the plate
This pitch doesn’t seem all that special. Daniel Norris got ahead of Adam Engel 0-2 and tried to bury a curveball, but threw a 57-footer instead. Happens all the time, right? According to Statcast, not really. Norris is the only Tigers hurler to have a pitch land 3+ feet in front of the plate, and he’s done it twice. He is one of just five MLB pitchers to throw multiple pitches that far “below” the plate since 2015. Norris also leads the Tigers in number of pitches thrown 2 feet below, 1 foot below, and on top of the plate. Just Good Guy Daniel doing his part to maintain the grounds.
The Most Fascinating Detroit Tigers Wild Pitch
Jairo Labourt – 9/3/2017 – 4.79 feet to the left of home plate
What a remarkable pitch. If you’re unfamiliar with Jairo Labourt, don’t feel bad. He was the third pitcher the Detroit Tigers acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 David Price trade, and while he always had terrific arm talent, he could never throw enough strikes (see above). He pitched 512 innings in his pro career, walked 300 batters, hit 36 more, and uncorked 67 wild pitches. He threw just 121 pitches in a Detroit Tigers uniform, and 57 of them were balls.
But this was clearly the best of them, a pitch that somehow still showed good arm-side movement at 92 MPH despite threatening to leave Wayne County. And look at what happens after it hits the wall! The ball floats in the air for three seconds before it nestles into the glove of catcher Bryan Holaday, who is now a good 15 feet to the right of home plate. This ball went on a 100-foot journey, and at no point was it ever within 4 feet of the plate. Outstanding.