Facts are facts and home runs are home runs, regardless of how they get there. If they go over the fence by one foot or 1,000 feet, it counts as a single home run. Some home runs are like a fine painting. The player is the artist, the bat is the brush and the result is the paint. Other home runs are, well, just ugly.
Some guys launch home runs and you find yourself asking “how did THAT go out?” Whether it’s a herky-jerky swing, or a vicious swing where the player comes out of his shoes, there are a lot of bad home run swings out there. Now, one could argue that the uglier the swing, the more impressive the home run is. Sorry, this is not a list for those people. The criteria is a bit technical for this list. Before you get heated up like a cheap bag of popcorn, please read the criteria carefully.
Power Hitter – The player must be considered a power hitter. Otherwise, we’d be discussing the worst swings in baseball, and that could take months.
Fluidity (or lack there of) – Great home run swings are fluid and gorgeous looking. If you don’t have that, you are considered for this list.
Pre-swing and follow through – Obviously, to hit a ball out of a major league park against a major league pitcher, it requires some necessary technique. These players have either bad set ups, overall mechanics or awful follow-through’s. Basically, it just doesn’t look natural.
10. Matt Holliday – Holliday is clutch, there’s no arguing that. If we we’re doing a list of top-10 clutch hitters in baseball today, he could make that list. He’s making this because it always seems as if Holliday’s swing is a half second delayed, but then he connects and launches home runs. He’s got a mini kick with his front foot and it throws you off. Often times, his home runs have that “oops” feeling.
9. Johnny Damon – Damon has hit enough home runs to be considered a home-run threat. Is he an all-time great? No. But his home run is UH-GLEE. That weird leg movement and a swing that looks like he’s just trying to make contact, somehow equates to home runs. He made a living hitting awkward looking home runs at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. And who knows if those home runs leave the park in normal stadiums?
8. Jay Buhner – A badass look with badass results. Badass swing? Not so much. Buhner’s swing looked like he was playing bar league softball. Wait, not just his swing, his goatee and bald head fits the bill too! It was a thunderous swing that seemed to be about 87 percent complete. Quick, compact hands with an open stance, but a short follow- through and lots of pine tar. Hey, it worked didn’t it? Nothing but love for JB.
7. Gary Sheffield – Sheffield had a cut that was feared by every pitcher. It was herky and it was jerky. Most of the time, Sheff would be so off balance he’d have to gather himself before trotting to first base. His pre-swing bat movement is like a trademarked swagger move. Everyone knows it.
6. Cal Ripken – I feel bad putting Cal on this list because of what he means to the game of baseball, but even he will admit he never really had a set routine at the plate. One his swing was in motion, it looked similar to all of his swings. The problem was that it never looked like he knew where he was trying to hit the ball. He hit a lot of home runs and many of them looked like he was aiming to the complete opposite side of the stadium.
5. Mo Vaughn – Mo Vaughn could absolutely LAUNCH balls to parts of the stands not many others could. He was all pull, all the time. It looked like he was putting everything in to every swing, and if he was going to miss, he was going to miss hard. Same with his home runs. It’s like the motto “work hard, play harder,” except Mo was thinking “swing hard, hit (or miss) harder.” It’s not a swing you’d ask your 10-year-old kid to duplicate.
4. Dante Bichette – The beloved Rockies star had some of the best home runs in franchise history. Heck, he hit the first ever home run in franchise history. From his first to his last, his home runs had a very weird look. A three quarter pre-swing, followed by a three quarter follow-through found Bichette standing in this unique position like he always knew it was gone. It’s an odd combo, but Rockies’ fans got to enjoy it for a long time.
3. Mike Piazza – This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Even Robin Ventura made fun of Piazza’s swing. It was a very upright swing that starts a little hunched over, which is sort of the opposite of what you’re taught as a kid. He could crush balls, and for a catcher, that is rare. It almost looked painful at times.
2. Jeff Bagwell – One of the whippiest swings in baseball history. His hands were always so high, to the point where he had to have a special batting glove made that looked like it had a package of Kraft singles stuffed in it for padding. A very wide stance and a swing that made it appear as if “Bags” was about to face plant in to home plate. He’d hit them far and often, but he did a lot of work with his body to do.
1. Mark Teixeira – First off, Teixeira’s home runs from the right side of the plate are far worse than the left. Even so, he’s got some awfully bad looking home runs from the left side. From the right, however, he sits back so long that when he actually comes through the ball, he looks like he’s guessing on where it will end up. From the right side, it never seems that Teixeria “wows” anyone with a home run.
He’ll hack at pitches all over the strike zone and get them out of the park, but it doesn’t look pretty. From the left, he can turn on some and make it look decent, but he still seems to swoop the bat around hoping he gets some lift on it. Lucky for us, Teixeria is still playing. If healthy, you should get plenty of chances to pay close attention and understand what we’re saying about his ugly swing.
David Justice – Quick leg quick and a lot of bat motion resulted in a lot of pulled home runs for Justice, but they looked unorthodox at times.
Frank Thomas – I didn’t put the Big Hurt on the list due to respect. He had very odd way of getting the ball over the fence, but he was so big that it was all about bat speed. That’s going to result in a weird motion vs a normal-sized guy with a smooth swing.
Dave Winfield – Weird cleat tapping, huge hands, yet it looked like the bat weighed 200 pounds when he swung it around. He had so much pre-swing movement, you had to wonder if he was even paying attention to the pitcher. Either way, he hit a lot of dingers.
Photo: NY Post