We know that Oracle Park is the place where home runs go to die. The combination of its extreme dimensions, low average temperature, and low elevation make its walls the hardest to clear in baseball.*
*Unless your name is Gary Sánchez.
The clearest proof of this is looking at Brandon Belt’s spray chart and using Baseball Savant’s tools to impose it onto other fields. Here’s every fly ball or line drive Belt has hit in San Francisco but imposed onto Miller Park in Milwaukee.
It’s not the fairest way to do things. Baseball Savant’s spray charts aren’t exact in their distances. The red dot that’s furthest out in right center has a projected distance of 413 feet, and all the ones that come short are over 420. It doesn’t mean that a ball would have been a home run just because a dot is over the fence in the spray chart. But these are balls hit in the cold, pelagic winds, not the climate-controlled air. If anything, these balls probably would have gone farther.
Belt has been the person most heavily impacted by Oracle Park. Just eyeballing the spray chart, he’s had 5 to 10 homers taken away from him per year. Just this year, he hit a double that would have been his second career 18th inning walk off homer if it didn’t go to the deepest part of the field.
That ball would have been a homer anywhere else in the majors, but not Oracle. That might have been the surest homer taken away by Oracle Park, but it wasn’t a true AT&Ting. And, for now, let’s stick with “AT&Ting” or “AT&T’d” because “Oracle’d” hasn’t entered the lexicon yet, and with the new juiced baseballs in play... maybe there will be fewer of them?
A true AT&Ting results in an out. It makes everyone who witnesses it say, “I can’t believe that didn’t go out,” and “I can’t believe that got caught.” I set out to find the worst AT&Ting ever. I ran into a few problems. First is the aforementioned wonkiness of the Statcast distance measurements. According to those, the worst AT&Ting of all-time is this high fly ball hit by Jarrett Parker in 2016.
Statcast had it at a projected 429 feet. Maybe it would have traveled that far in a dome, but Parker can’t complain about the wind knocking it down when he hit the ball at a 41-degree angle. No one’s surprised that ball didn’t leave the yard. Duane Kuiper didn’t yell, “HIGH DRIVE” when that ball left the bat. This hardly counts as an AT&Ting.
Another problem I ran into was MLB’s terrible archiving of old baseball games on YouTube. On June 10, 2017, Brandon Belt hit a ball into Triples Alley that Eddie Rosario tracked down. This happened when the Giants were down by one in a game the Giants would go on to lose. All the other dots around it on Belt’s spray chart are home runs or triples.
It was the hardest hit out Belt had hit into at Oracle, but the video labeled “MIN AT SFN – June 10, 2017” is a recording of the game from June 9, 2017, and I haven’t been able to find the real video. There was no mention of this ball in any postgame recap I could find. Perhaps the worst AT&Ting of all-time has been scrubbed from the historical records. This is worse than the burning of the Library at Alexandria.
I can’t call this the worst AT&Ting without witnessing the ball off the bat. I don’t know if this was a case of Baseball Savant just putting a dot wherever it feels like or if this was a true AT&Ting.
Because of that, I have to proclaim that this Brandon Belt fly out is the worst AT&Ting in the Statcast era. Click here if the video doesn’t load.
Everything about this was bullpucky. Belt has faced Kershaw more than any other pitcher, but he’s never had a home run against him. In 54 at bats, he has just 4 hits and 28 strikeouts. Belt has only hit one ball harder off of Clayton Kershaw, but that was a sinking liner to center fielder. This should have gone out. If he pulled it down the line, it would have gone into the cove. Belt finally got the better of Kershaw. Off the bat, Belt knew he hit it as well as he possibly could. He discarded the bat with something between a bat drop and a flip.
But he had to watch it fall into the glove of Yasiel Puig. It’s fitting that the worst AT&Ting featured two of the Giants’ most vexing villains. Finally, Belt had hit a ball off of Clayton Kershaw that could have gone out. At the very least, it should have been a triple or a double. But it was just another out. It doesn’t get much worse than that.