When Pros Look Like Amateurs: The Worst Pitching Outings by MLB Position Players

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2020

When Pros Look Like Amateurs: The Worst Pitching Outings by MLB Position Players

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    One of the most impressive things about professional athletes is how easy they make their jobs look. That's certainly true for MLB pitchers. Despite periodic hiccups, they hurl baseballs past big league hitters with speed and precision.

    The degree of difficulty becomes especially apparent when non-pitchers take the mound, generally in blowouts or prolonged extra-inning affairs.

    Sometimes, it works out surprisingly well. More often, we're reminded why pitching at the highest level is such a tough gig.

    Let's examine 11 of the worst outings by position players from the last 30 years, weighing their crooked stat lines and general fecklessness along with a dash of know-a-terrible-performance-when-we-see-it subjectivity.

Dishonorable Mentions

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    OF/DH Jose Canseco, 1993, Texas Rangers: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO

    3B Sean Burroughs, 2005, San Diego Padres: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 SO

    OF Nori Aoki, 2017, Houston Astros: 1 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO

    IF Andres Blanco, 2017, Philadelphia Phillies: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 SO

    CF Leonys Martin, 2017, Chicago Cubs: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 0 SO

    C Austin Romine, 2019, New York Yankees: 1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 0 SO

Richard Urena, 2019, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    A utility infielder through three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Richard Urena was asked to pitch on August 20, 2019.

    It was an ugly late-summer contest between the Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Urena's crack at MLB pitching was equally rough.

    The Jays would lose the game, 16-3. Urena played his role, surrendering four hits, a walk, a homer and four earned runs in just one inning of work.

Brett Nicholas, 2017, Texas Rangers

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    Texas Rangers backup catcher Brett Nicholas battled through an inning against the Miami Marlins on July 26, 2017.

    The Marlins won the game, 22-10. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna combined for 10 hits, eight RBI and 11 runs scored.

    Amid all that, Nicholas took the mound and served an array of comically slow breaking balls.

    He recorded three outs, but not before coughing up five hits and four earned runs.

Dylan Moore, 2019, Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Utility man Dylan Moore hit .206 in 113 games in 2019 for the Seattle Mariners. The "highlight" of his rookie year, as defined as his most memorable moment, was probably his pitching performance on April 27 against the Rangers.

    Pressed into duty in a game the M's lost 15-1, Moore gave up four earned runs on five hits and two walks before finally wriggling out of the inning.

    He was battling for a spot on the Mariners' 2020 roster before a hit-by-pitch injured his wrist this spring and then COVID-19 shut everything down. But it's safe to say he won't be part of Seattle's big-picture pitching plans.

Derek Bell, 2000, New York Mets

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Derek Bell was a key member of the Houston Astros' Killer B's in the late '90s and finished his career with 134 home runs and a .276 average.

    But on August 22, 2000, the outfielder pitched an ignoble inning for the New York Mets.

    Bell lasted one frame against the San Diego Padres, but not before allowing five runs, four of them earned, on three walks and three hits.

    The Mets lost 16-1 to the Friars, for whom Bell played two seasons in 1993 and 1994.

Willians Astudillo, 2018, Minnesota Twins

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    On July 14, 2018, the Minnesota Twins sent Willians Astudillo to the mound in a game they lost 19-6 to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Astudillo played every position with the Twinkies between 2018 and 2019, but his big league pitching debut wasn't pretty.

    In one inning, he allowed five earned runs on five hits, including two home runs.

    Asked how he did after the game, Astudillo offered a succinct assessment via a translator: "Bad."

Jose Reyes, 2018, New York Mets

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    A four-time All-Star at shortstop, Jose Reyes was humbled by his lone pitching misadventure with the New York Mets on July 31, 2018.

    Entering a blowout with the Washington Nationals already up 19-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Reyes allowed six earned runs on five hits, including two home runs and two walks, though he ultimately recorded three hard-earned outs.

    "When you're on the mound, before you throw a pitch, it's fun," Reyes told reporters after the game. "But when you start to see people hit a home run and stuff, you get serious. Even though I'm not a pitcher, I don't want to see that."

Manny Alexander, 1996, Baltimore Orioles

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    In 11 seasons as a utility infielder between 1992 and 2006, Manny Alexander posted a .231/.282/.324 slash line.

    His tenure with the Baltimore Orioles was equally unremarkable, except for the one time he was brought in to pitch.

    On April 19, 1996, Alexander recorded two outs for the O's, but not before he gave up five earned runs on four walks and a home run.

    Baltimore, meanwhile, lost the game by a cartoonish final of 26-7 to the Rangers.

Enrique Hernandez, 2018, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Enrique Hernandez has played every position except catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2015, but his brief stint as a pitcher wasn't his finest hour.

    In the 16th inning of a game that would last 5 hours, 55 minutes, Hernandez walked two, allowed a home run and was tagged with three earned runs while recording just one out as the Dodgers lost, 7-4, to the Philadelphia Phillies.

    "I was thinking about how we had a game in 11 hours," Hernandez told reporters. "And how I was 0-for-7 at the plate, and this was my time to redeem myself. And I didn't."

Carlos Gomez, 2018, Tampa Bay Rays

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    On July 27, 2018, outfielder Carlos Gomez threw 21 pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Orioles. Four of them were strikes.

    Gomez didn't give up a hit, partly because he rarely found the plate. He did give up three runs on four walks and two balks (a third balk was negated because it was ball four with a runner on first) as the Rays went on to lose, 15-5.

    "When you do it," Gomez told reporters of his ill-fated stint toeing the rubber, "you respect pitchers more."

John Mabry, 2001, Florida Marlins

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    John Mabry made two trips to the mound during his otherwise solid 14-year MLB career as an outfielder and first baseman.

    In the first, with the Seattle Mariners in 2000, he yielded two earned runs on three hits in 0.2 innings.

    His second pitching performance, with the Florida Marlins in 2001, went even worse, as he gave up five earned runs on three hits and walked three while recording one out in a 20-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

    It was tough to ascertain what, exactly, Mabry was throwing, though some of his offerings resembled a knuckleball.

    More than that, it looked like batting practice.

Gerardo Parra, 2019, Washington Nationals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    On August 3, 2019, outfielder Gerardo Parra straddled the hill for the Washington Nationals.

    He threw 25 pitches without recording an out and allowed a hit, four walks and five earned runs as the Nats lost 18-7 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    At one point, the camera cut to Washington ace Max Scherzer shaking his head in amusement in the dugout. 

    Amateur lip-readers can weigh in, but Scherzer's expression said it all: This is a lot harder than it looks.


    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.