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Bloops: Rick Ankiel Highlight Reel

Posted by Raphy on August 31, 2011

Though he is no longer a pitcher, Rick Ankiel has been making news with his arm once again.  His pinpoint laser throws have frustrated many runners around the league. Blog reader William Tasker has a collection of links to Ankiel throws at his own blog,  "The Flagrant Fan".  Have a look; its a fun watch.

54 Responses to “Bloops: Rick Ankiel Highlight Reel”

  1. WilliaminMaine Says:

    Thanks, Raphy! Appreciate the plug.

  2. Jimbo Says:

    Just watched them all.

    Love watching great throws. Amazing how many of those runners were just dead ducks.

  3. John Autin Says:

    A worthy compilation!

    I don't see enough of him to know whether the throws that make the highlight shows are completely typical for him. Does he ever make a wild one? But from what we see, it sure seems as though he has one of the best OF arms ever.

  4. Jimbo Says:

    2 more old ones are here. These are amazing as well.

  5. John Autin Says:

    Also amazing how many of these Ankiel throws sit up perfectly on a soft hop for the fielder to make an easy catch.

    Watch the replays of the 8/22/09 throw, from the CF camera angle and then the 3B stands angle. Catcher could have been asleep in a rocking chair.

  6. John Autin Says:

    P.S. to the author -- I think you have a typo in the list -- "8/29/2009" seems to be really 8/22/2009.

    Love the list, though.

  7. John Autin Says:

    Jimbo, good additions.
    In the first one of yours, the runner's double-take is priceless. Not sure who it was, but he's not slow and he ran hard from 2B -- just couldn't believe what hit him.

  8. Evan Says:

    I have a vague recollection of Ankiel, shortly after he was converted to outfield, throwing out a runner at the plate on the fly from the right field foul pole. I have no idea about a date or location of a video, perhaps another reader has more information.

  9. Evan Says:

    JA @7,

    It was Willy Taveras. Not slow is an understatement.

  10. JW Says:

    How many other players in history have won more than 10 games in a season and also hit more than 20 homers in a season?

    Obviously Ruth, but is there anyone else?

  11. Andy Says:

    Regarding the video in #4, all I can say is HOLY CRAP. Those throws are simply amazing, and a lot better than most outfield highlights.

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Meh, he's no Jesse Barfield.

  13. Atom Says:

    I feel there is an easy solution to the Ankiel/pitching problem......can we just make up pitch from center field?

  14. Jimbo Says:

    Too bad he can't hit anymore.

  15. Jimbo Says:

    I have this weird feeling that Ankiel will drop out from the big league (because his hitting is deteriorating), and then about 4 years later, when he's 36 or something, he'll come back as a pitcher again.

    Would be a great storyline.

  16. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @10/ JW Says: "How many other players in history have won more than 10 games in a season and also hit more than 20 homers in a season?...."

    JW, Cy Seymour started out as a pitcher from 1896-1900 and won 25 games in 1898. Converted to the outfield (mostly CF) in 1901, in 1905 he was the best hitter in the NL, with a .377 BA, 8 HR, 121 RBI. 8 HR doesn't sound like much, but it was 2nd in the NL in the 1905 (one behind the leader), and the equivalent of at least 30 HR nowadays.

    Reb Russell won 22 games with the 1913 White Sox, came back as a RFer with the Pirates, and hit 12 HR in 1922. That's the closest I can come to 20 HR...

    I saw the throw that Ankiel made Sunday (8/28) in the 9th inning live - it was incredible. He didn't seem to set himself or even look where to throw - he just barehanded it off the wall and made a perfect throw to the third baseman, all in the same motion.

  17. The Chief (tm) Says:

    Incredible throws on Jimbo's additions -- though in each case, it looked to me like the runners were safe, especially the second one! Tags were up too high.

  18. JW Says:

    @16 Lawrence, thanks for the info. I am new here, but love to read the articles/comments.

  19. Rocky Calhoun Says:

    I was sitting in the bleachers on October 12, 2000 when Ankiel imploded against the Mets. We really couldn't see what the problem was from our vantage point, but after the second wild pitch we could have never guessed that it would be "basically" the end of his pitching career. Ankiel had a pretty magical stuff that season, especially for a 19 year old rookie, but Tony LaRussa did him no favors. Ankeil pitched a 2.2 inning start against Atlanta in round one and cracked under the post-season microscope in Game 2 against Al Leiter. Tough NLCS for any Cardinal fan (the Mets are still Pond Scum) but I loved his old-school 69 MPH Uncle Charlie. Umpires would usually miss a few strikes every game.

  20. Elliott Says:

    Hey, I'm new here and I have a question. I'm trying to use the play index event finder for specific conditions, like the blog post two weeks ago about back to back triples to lead off a game (2nd batter hits a triple with a guy on third was what was searched for). I can't figure out exactly where to punch in those conditions; when I use event finder, it gives me only the options for year, team, and type of event, nothing more. Can anyone help?

  21. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @18/ JW - You're welcome. Of course, someone who knows how to work the P-I can give a definitive answer. Since almost all the successful pitcher-to-position player conversions were prior to 1925, I don't think you'll find any big HR totals (except for Ruth, of course).

    BIll James had a nice summary of these player moves in the NBJHA, there might be one that I missed who fits 10 wins/20 HR.

    @16/I meant live as "live on TV".

  22. Raphy Says:

    @20 If you do a search in the event finder, you can further limit the results by clicking on any of the items in the results page.

    So in your example, you would first search for all triples and then click on 1st inning, 0 outs, #2 in the lineup and runner on third. You can then get the results you were looking for.

  23. Elliott Says:

    @22 I'm trying to find grand slams by the fourth batter of the game. So what I would like to punch in is 1st inning, fourth batter, bases loaded, no outs. But at the event finder, I'm typing in 1950-2011, all teams, home runs, and now its loading all god knows how many home runs of the last 61 years. This is how it works, though?

  24. Jimbo Says:


    Taveras definitely looks out. The other guy it's extremely close, a great tag applied by Scott Rolen I think it was.

  25. Jimbo Says:

    Oops, a great tag applied by Troy Glaus, not Scott Rolen.

  26. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Elliott, the event finder can be a little tricky, but once you figure it out it's an amazing tool. You can actually start by searching for anything. You just want to get the list of additional options to come up, once you have your initial results. So just search for, say, all HR in 2011. That should work pretty quickly. Then, change your years to 1950-2011, click on the other parameters you want (bases loaded, whatever), and run the search again.

    Raphy gave me this tip way back when.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'm finding 105 results for your search, so if you get that, you've done it correctly. (Or we've both done it identically incorrectly.)

  28. Elliott Says:

    @26 I got it. Thanks so much, that was really helpful.

  29. John Autin Says:

    Seconding JT's tip @26 (and his results @27).

    It really is super helpful to draw your initial search very narrowly -- it doesn't even have to be the least bit related to what you want -- you just want to get some results quickly, in order to bring up the fabulous array of other conditions that you can specify only from the results page.

  30. Steve Says:

    His #1 most similar batter is Ryan Thompson.He's just not a good enough hitter.

  31. Hector Says:

    @27 I agree, 105. And looking forward to someone running it since I'm too cheap to pay for anything on the internet so I only get the sneak preview. But 2x by Vic Wertz! (and 14 other guys). And Ron Cey is the only guy to tie a game in the bottom of the first, everyone else went ahead.

  32. KB Says:

    Anybody keeping track of Logan Forysthe's highlight reel this year? Crazy for a rookie infielder.

  33. KB Says:

    Here's a start on the Forsythe reel:

  34. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    A great compilation! I hope that, someday, we will see a similar post showing Clemente's throwing highlights; now, THERE was the definitive right fielder!

  35. Hartvig Says:

    JW @ 10

    "How many other players in history have won more than 10 games in a season and also hit more than 20 homers in a season?"

    Stan Musial won 18 games for Rochester in the International League in 1941 before he hurt his arm and converted to playing the field.

  36. Steve Says:

    35 The Cards were lucky he hurt his arm.

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I finally watched these. Mighty impressive. As I said, Barfield is my personal standard for outfield arms. A while back Prime 9 listed the top outfield arms of all time (i.e., since they have film). Everyone else is throwing these nice one-hoppers. All the Barfield throws come in on the fly, a foot above the bag. Awesome. A few of these Ankiel throws were like that.

    And yet, Ankiel has his career high this season with all of 7 assists. Barfield would get 20 a year. I don't think runners are as aggressive as they used to be, but I just don't think that can account for all the difference. I don't know, maybe it does. You can say runners aren't testing Ankiel, but believe that they weren't testing Barfield either (or Clemente, or any number of guys who would still pick up 15+ assists a season).

  38. Hartvig Says:

    Barfield's arm was beyond awesome but as I recall his throws would sometimes trail up the third base line a bit. But it is a little amazing that they would still try to run on him after he had been in the league for a couple of seasons.

  39. Charles Says:

    Lefty O'Doul won 25 games in the minors in 1921 and hit 32 HR's in the majors in 1929.

  40. Timothy P Says:

    Sammy Sosa would absolutely fly out of his shoes trying to throw out runners. I mean it looked like a little kid trying to throw the ball just as far he could, it was wild. Most of his throws would be way off or air-mailed to the screen.

  41. John Autin Says:

    Thanks for the Forsythe saga. [D'oh!]

    What an unusual batting line he had in the minors: .414 OBP, .412 SLG. I'd love to see him do something like that for the Padres!

  42. John Autin Says:

    JT, I was sure you were hyperbolizing about Barfield's 20 assists a year, but no!

  43. Genis26 Says:

    Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I see a LOT of Mariners games, and I can assure you that runners just don't run on Ichiro as often as other outfielders. He just has such a reputation. His arm isn't as good as it used to be, but he gets a lot of respect from baserunners. It seems like most outfielders who have the most assists aren't actually the best arms, but are simply tested more (Alfonso Soriano in his first year as LF comes to mind).

    Wow, Alex Gordon has 20 OF assists? He leads the majors by 6, as the next most is Markakis with 14. This is Gordon's first full season as a LF, so runners must be testing him more.

  44. Johnny Dunce Says:

    JA, when it comes to Barfield's arm, it's not possible to hyperbolize.

    Here's something for our older Brefren to tell us: Johnny Callison was a terrific ballplayer for the Phillies in the '60s. I don't remember hearing much about his arm being legendary. But his assist totals were superb: four straight seasons of at least 20 from RF. How did his arm compare to Clemente, or Colavito, or however you want to rate him?


    Genis, Ichiro is another one who's always befuddled me. He's only topped out at 12 assists in a season. I guess his arm is great (though I mostly just know him for that one throw in his rookie season which always gets replayed), but why is he sitting at ~8 assists every year? Do runners just not run as aggressively as they used to? I need to try looking at this.

    Re Gordon, I've been assuming it's got a lot to do with his being challenged, like when Soriano moved to LF and picked up 22 assists (and 9 DP!**) his first season. But I don't know for sure.

    **The last OF to top this was Del Unser in 1968. A few guys since then (Dave Parker '77, Darrin Jackson '92, Rich Becker '95) have also had 9.

  45. Kyle Says:

    Mays, Mantle(when younger and healthy), Vlad, and obviously Ankiel(whose fastball topped out at 99 mph as a 19 year old rookie)have better arms than Barfield. Third base coaches and base runners continued to challenge Barfield which is something many outfielders with guns just don't have happen to them.

    But Shoeless Joe Jackson threw a baseball 132 yards (397 feet roughly) on September 27, 1917 and Honus Wagner once won a throwing contest with a rocket that went 407 feet. He also had 56 assists in only 356 games in the outfield while many contemporaries thought he was the best outfielder and shorstop defensively. He made errors early on due to the insane dimensions of Eclipse Park II that was around 490 feet to centerfield. All 3 Eclipse Parks burned down oddly enough.

    Assists are a stat that can be misleading... Biggio's first season in centerfield at the age of 37 had 9 assists. Look up how often guys tag up on an outfielder to actually see how IMPOSING his arm is. Ankiel throws absolute bullets from the warning track in right/center field to get a guy trying to tag up from second to third base like it's nothing. He was never a "center fielder" who had once been a 19-20 phenom pitcher who had a ratio of 10 k's every 9 innings while throwing 95 to 99 mph. The way he gunned down Willy Taveras who was 68 out of 75 stealing bases trying to tag from 2nd to 3rd TRUMPS anything Barfield did. Oh... Bo Jackson also had a better arm than Barfield.

  46. Cameron Says:

    Speaking of pitching+hitting achievements has anyone else ever lead the league in ERA+ and OPS+?

  47. Cameron Says:

    By anyone else I mean anyone other than Ruth.

  48. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @46/ Cameron - "Speaking of pitching+hitting achievements has anyone else ever lead the league in ERA+ and OPS+?"

    Bob CARUTHERS, the best two-way player of the 19th century:
    1885 St Louis AA: 181 ERA+
    1886 St Louis AA: 200 OPS+

    For 20th century players (besides Ruth), my #16/Cy Seymour probably comes the closest: 8th in ERA+ in 1897, first in OPS+ in 1905. That season is one of the great forgotten years of the deadball era.

  49. Hartvig Says:

    Sorry Kyle but I would challenge you to find one person who's been associated with MLB- as a player, manager, coach, broadcaster, what have you- from the time that Barfield played until now that would agree with your assessment.

  50. Johnny Twisto Says:

    For one season ('07, I think), Melky Cabrera threw as well as anyone I've seen. During the rest of his Yankee tenure, he was more erratic.

  51. John Autin Says:

    @46, Kyle -- Vladdy's arm was erratic even in his prime, hence his very high error total. Barfield was much more effective.

  52. Brian Wells Says:

    Wes Ferrell won over 20 games 6 times in the majors.He hit 20 or more homers 3 times in the minors AFTER his playing days in the majors.(Not surprisingly,he still holds the major league record for most career homers by a pitcher).

  53. Jimbo Says:

    Barry Bonds, 11 assists from left field in 2004, at age 39. Strange stat.

    Maybe not as weird as 232 walks and a .609 OBP.

  54. Jimbo Says:

    Wow Ferell really tore it up in the minors, batting .351 and hitting with power.

    Looks like one of the greatest all around ballplayers of all time after Ruth when it comes to pitching/hitting. Hall of fame material if he didn't choose (judging by his talent it looks like he chose) to leave mLB.