By: Noah Wright
The official suspensions for White Sox’ shortstop Tim Anderson, and Royals starter Brad Keller, were released a few days ago. While Anderson was suspended because of racially charged language he used during the fight that ensued after Keller plunked Anderson, Keller was suspended for the intentional plunking. Regardless, all of this chaos can be narrowed down to one action: Tim Anderson flipping his bat after launching a 2 run bomb off of Keller.
Now whether or not you support Keller’s or Anderson’s actions is one thing, but bat flipping no doubt been kind of controversial in the MLB. Well for one, massive, super dramatic bat flips usually are met with intentionally plunking. Of course, nobody likes getting hit with a fastball sitting somewhere in the 90’s and I don’t think intentionally plunking a guy because he flipped his bat on a homerun he hit off of you is an appropriate response. As a fan, I’d much rather watch the pitcher strike him out. Don’t give him a chance to get on base, and don’t give them a chance to start a rally. Afterall, I’m sure the other guy’s teammate’s aren’t to thrilled you just plunked their friend, and they just might start trying to hit the ball hard off of you.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should just bat flip on any home run. To me, there’s appropriate times to throw your bat after a home run, and an inappropriate time to throw your bat after a home run. Today, I want to share my thoughts of MLB players flipping bats.
To start, I think a total appropriate time to flip your bat is in big games, or in walk offs. For example, Jose Bautista’s bat flip in the 2015 ALDS Game 5 against the Rangers was such a perfect way to cap off the rally. The Jays entered the bottom of the 7th, down by 1. After taking advantage of a few misplays by the Rangers, the Jays tied up the game. Now one of Toronto’s best batters, Jose Bautista, steps up to the plate with 2 outs, but with runners on the corners. Baustia, with one swing, gives the Jays a 3 run lead, which is all they needed. They took the series in the final game of the 5 game stretch. Bautista’s bat flip still lives in infamy of recent post season history.
Another example of when a bat flip was appropriate was during 2018, and David Bote’s walk off grand slam against the Washington Nationals. The Cubs entered the bottom of the 9th, down 3-0 to the Nats. After Ben Zobrist grounded out to first, Jason Heyward came up and hit a single just past 2B. Albert Almora then came up to bat, and got plunked by a pitch. Kyle Schwarber then recorded the second out of the inning after he popped out in third base foul territory. After Willson Contreras walked, the bases were now loaded with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Now up is rookie utility man David Bote as a pinch hitter for the pitcher. Bote was never a highly ranked prospect in the Cubs system, but came to the MLB during 2018 because of injuries on the roster. Regardless, he was producing at the time. With a 2-2 count, this little known rookie launches a 2-2 fastball from newly entered pitcher Ryan Madson to almost dead center, capping off an amazing comeback. Bote flips the bat, admiring the biggest hit he’s ever had in his life. Sadly, the best moment of this 25 year old’s entire life is interrupted by him having to apologize because of his actions after blasting the walk off grand slam. The first Cubs player since Hall Of Fame outfielder, Earl Averill hit a walk off slam in 1959.
Although these are just a few examples of some of the most memorable bat flips in the past few seasons, they are the most deserving. However, in Tim Anderson’s case, it probably wasn’t the best situation to toss his bat. It was a mid-April game, and the home run came in the fourth inning in a 0-0 game. This was not a down-to-the-wire, make or break moment. Now that doesn’t mean that Keller has the right away to peg the White Sox’ shortstop, but I understand why he wasn’t too pleased that Anderson hughley celebrated kind of a pointless home run.
In the end, I think there are times where bat flips seem almost necessary. They can add drama to an already dramatic moment. Walks offs, or huge comebacks can be much more fun to watch. But that doesn’t mean that every home run deserves a bat flip. Though even if someone flips their bat on a pretty much pointless long ball, that doesn’t mean they deserve a fastball in the ribs.