It appears you messed up.
You had us! You had us good, I’ll admit. Past tense though. You notice the past tense, right? Well, the past is where your hopes and dreams are, unlike ours.
You’re damn right I’m saying “us” and “ours” like I’m part of the team. So what? I always did that. You can’t prove otherwise.
I’ll admit that person on this audio recording sounds a lot like me, but it is not me. I would never talk ill of my team. Why are you so obsessed with the past anyway? Actually I know the answer — the past is the only time when you were good.
Man oh man, I seriously just can not believe how much you screwed everything up and left the barn door open. I bet you did not even think you had a barn, no less a barn door. You had a barn and the chickens have come home to roost. You tried to sneak a sunrise past a rooster, and the rooster was all “How dare you!” and smiled, because it knew you would be punished for your sins whether it did anything or not.
I hoped you enjoyed your place in the sun and wore sun block yet also did not get too comfortable.
An exploratory committee on your hopes and dreams has been commissioned and convened and doggone it they broke the world record for most people to decide it wasn’t worth it at the same time.
This right here is what it is all about.
Hey, I’m sorry if you made bad choices. Really sorry. Seriously.
Sorry that I am not sorry.
I knew all along I was smarter than you. I knew I was rooting for the right group of knuckleheads. I knew I chose the right people to criticize.
This feels too good to ever end.
Adults are busy. “I’m busy,” they say. Or, “Maybe I will, once things aren’t so busy.” Or, “I would but your poetry reading across town with hard seats and no air conditioning doesn’t appeal to me.”
With our busy lives and more hours of baseball in a day than hours of day in a day, we don’t have time to watch bad, boring baseball. We must prioritize our viewing for max interest, so I have compiled a list of the most unwatchable hitters.
To do this, I described what I consider a boring at bat and assigned a measurement: slow (batter pace), long (pitches per plate appearance), inconsequential (leverage index), anticlimactic (balls in play and extra base hits), and Plays for the Angels (Angels Player). I can think of nothing worse than a slow, ten pitch at bat that ends in a walk or strikeout in the ninth inning of a decided ballgame by Kole Calhoun.
We’ll start with pace to get our Leaders of Snooze because time between pitches is the least interesting aspect of an at bat. Nothing can happen in this time save for the adjustment and readjustment of various pieces of equipment (if you know what I mean).
The average pace for a hitter this year is ~21 seconds between pitches (wow). A quick pace is about 19 seconds, while a slow pace is 23 seconds. There are 14 active players with a pace over 24 seconds. That will be our group. Look upon these wastes of your precious time.
While taking time between pitches is annoying, the total length of an at-bat is where we feel the day slip by. By multiplying pace by pitches per plate appearance we get the average duration of their average at bats. In MLB, the average hitter’s at-bat lasts one minute and 23 seconds (83 seconds). Not so with our intrepid group of layabouts.
The average of our narcoleptic group is one minute and 37 seconds (97 seconds). There are nine hitters who take longer than the group average. The three worst culprits are Gary Sánchez (103), Mark Cahna (104) and Alex Avila (107). 24 seconds may not seem like much, but think about clicking on a website and waiting an extra 24 seconds for it to load. I’ve stormed away from my desk for less.
Yet, waiting can lead to tension. A long at-bat in the ninth inning of a tie game builds suspense. Surely we don’t want to punish the best of baseballs’ moments.
So we sort by leverage index (1 is average) to see who is taking their time in tense situations and who is stealing small bits of my life. I’m running out of room so I’ll just list the ones significantly below league average.
The rest of the list is somewhere around the average, with only Alfaro (1.05), Pollock (1.03), Suzuki (1.06), and Davis (1.12) getting tense at bats.
A long, non-tense at bat should at least allow for some interest by getting more players involved in the game. 63% of PAs end with a BiP, and our list of 14 dolts averaged a little less at 61%. Here are the worst of them (below the Boring Group average).
Last, we should examine how many at-bats end with an extra base hit. After a ten pitch showdown, a double off the wall feels worth it no matter the leverage. While the average is 8.6% across the league, ours is quite a bit higher at 9.3%. Only Jorge Alfaro (6.7%) and Marwin González (7.4%) are below league average, while J.D. Martinez (11.3%), Gary Sánchez (10.7%), and Kole Calhoun (10.2%) are in the double digits.
In total we have this, sorted by pace.
Not a good looking bunch. I weighted each category equally, because that’s what I could do, and taken together the hitter who best represents Long and Pointless on the axis of watchability is… wait for it… keep waiting for an extra 24 seconds… Alex Avila!
Here’s a typical Alex Avila at bat: Down by three in the fourth. He takes a pitch. Steps out. Stares off into the middle distance. Wonders how bread got so popular. What is it about bread. Steps in. Another pitch. Another step out. Another stare off. Taps his toes. Should I buy stocks. Is baseball a stock. Another pitch. Looks at dugout. Thinks about all his friends over there. Another pitch. Strike three. There’s two minutes of your life.
Here’s an actual video of Avila from 2017 (of a high-leverage situation):
Some slow paced hitters (J.D. Martinez!) turned out to be watchable. Five were below average in watchability in at least 4 of the 5 categories. Here is the list in order of unwatchability:
1. Alex Avila, human unskippable ad
2. Mark Cahna, human loading screen
3. Gary Sánchez, human airport security line
4. Bryce Harper, human conversation with your great uncle
5. Jorge Alfaro, human person
Maybe one day we’ll have enough time to find the worst pitcher. But I’m pretty busy next week.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now