It's the end of the year and we all know what that means: many, many year-end lists recounting the best of 2010. I never expected to join in the fray, but then I read Jayson Stark's "Strange But True" column from last week and it reminded me of how many great home run trots there were in 2010. And if I don't take the time to highlight some of my favorites, then there's a good chance that some of them will disappear and be forgotten forever.
Here then are the ten most memorable Tater Trots of the year, for various reason. From personal favorites to those that really defined how we talked about the year in trots, it covers a pretty broad range of the year. If I missed one that you think was better, feel free to let me know in the comments. As we all know, there were a lot more than ten great trots.
Top 10 Tater Trots of 2010
10. Jim Thome Walks-Off Target Field
August 17 - 22.23 seconds [video]
One of my favorite sub-plots of the 2010 season was watching Jim Thome have one of the most surprising age-39 seasons I've seen in a while. The guy just hit home runs all year and always seemed to be having a blast while doing so. This August 17 blast was the first walk-off home run ever hit in Target Field and was Thome's second-fastest trot of the year. It was a great night for Twins fans, and it was made all the better by the fact that Thome was the one hitting the bomb.
9. Angel Pagan's Inside-the-Parker
May 19 - 14.48 seconds [video]
The single quickest home run trot of the year. Pagan's inside-the-parker wasn't just remarkable for it's sheer speed but also because he needed every split-second of the trot in order to score. If he was even as slow as a 14.61 second trot (the second-quickest single trot of the year), he might not have scored the run.
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8. Jose Bautista Sticks it to the Yankees
August 23 - 28.74 seconds [video]
Jose Bautista was not only the majors' home run leader in 2010, he was also one of the most consistent trotters in all of baseball. Of his 54 home runs, only four of his trots were outside the 20-24 second range, and two of those were inside-the-park home runs. The only time it took Bautista longer than 23.82 seconds to run home was on August 23. After hitting a blast in the third, a pitch went a little too close to his head in the sixth. After a small bench-clearing incident, things returned to normal.
Until the eighth, when Bautista hit his second bomb of the game. And he wasn't going to let the Yankees forget it, purposely taking his time around the bases. If you have any doubt, listen to his quote after the game: "I don't know what his reasons were, but I dealt with it for the rest of the game and that's exactly why I took my time running the bases just to enjoy it. And I have no shame in it given what happened earlier in the game."
7. Alex Rodriguez Hits #601, Fan Gets Tackled
August 10 - 24.93 seconds [video]
Have people forgotten that A-Rod hit home run #600 this year? It kind of feels like it sometimes. Home run #601 was more interesting to me, though, but not really for anything A-Rod did. This is what I wrote at the time:
In this clip, taken from the Yankees' broadcast, you can see a fan in a Hawaiian shirt run out of the scrum in centerfield with the ball proudly in hand, having successfully recovered A-Rod's 601st career home run ball. However, if you watch the Rangers' feed in MLB.tv, you can see the next second or two of video. In that feed, you can see some dude in a red shirt and blue hat run after the Hawaiian shirt and literally try to pry the ball out of the guy's hand (the attempted thief has his hat facing forward - you can see him on screen and joining the scrum in the Yankees' broadcast right before they cut away). I have no idea what happened after that because no feed showed it, but I thought it was fun to point out.
That Ballpark in Arlington crowd was always a little rowdy...
6. Chris Heisey Gets Trot-Blocked by Johnny Cueto
May 11 - 22.23 seconds [video]
Chris Heisey was easily one of the biggest tater trot surprises in 2010, and his first career home run had all the markings of what was to come. Running hard out of the box (as many rookies hitting their first home runs are wont to do), Heisey was on pace for a top-ten fastest trot of the year. But it wasn't meant to be. Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto was on first when Heisey hit his blast and was not exactly running hard on contact. Cueto was barely rounding third base as Heisey approached the bag. The rookie slowed down, but it wasn't even enough and he had to slow down even further after almost running into Cueto a second time. In the end, Heisey took 22.23 seconds to run all four bases - but only because Johnny Cueto took about the same time to run only three bases. But don't worry about Chris: he'd end up with quite a few top-notch trots before the year was through.
5. Luis Hernandez Breaks His Foot
September 18 - 33.08 seconds [video]
He fouls a ball of his foot, the team docs take a good two or three minutes to check it out, he steps back into the box and hammers the next pitch over the wall. What more, exactly, could you ask out of your players?
4. Jay Bruce Welcomes the Reds to the Postseason
September 28 - 16.92* seconds [video]
The typical walkoff home run trot takes about 2.5 seconds longer than the average. This could be for a couple of reasons, but is most likely due to the celebratory nature of the trot and the way the player's teammates mob the plate waiting for him. Jay Bruce's September 28 trot didn't care for those rules, though. Bruce and his teammates had a playoff-clinching to celebrate, after all. This might be my single favorite trot of the year.
3. Adam Rosales Is Quick Even by Adam Rosales Standards
June 12 - 15.47 seconds [video]
"The Year in Trots" would not be complete without a mention of Adam Rosales, who was an absolute revelation to your humble Tater Trot Tracker. He ran every single home run out as if he had to beat the throw home. Of his seven home runs, the only ones that he did not run out in 16 seconds or less were the ones with runners on base. The quickest of the quick came on June 12, against the Giants. The only trots quicker than that throughout the majors were true inside-the-park home runs hit by speedsters.
2. Luke Scott's Hamstrung Home Run
June 30 - 35.76 seconds [video]
The single-slowest home run trot of the year, though it was aided by an injury. Scott raced out of the box, unsure if the ball would clear the fence. It did and, as Scott rounded first base, he slowed down to celebrate it. Somehow, in that process, he pulled his hamstring. But with 250 feet still to go before the run would count, Scott had no choice but to grit it out. He finally touched home plate nearly 36-seconds later.
1. Big Papi Breaks the Trot Barrier
May 24 - 30.59 seconds [video]
The two big stories of the year were Adam Rosales' ridiculously quick trots on the one hand and David Ortiz' ridiculously slow trots on the other. There were fourteen home run trots that took 28.75 seconds or slower in 2010 (including Scott's and Hernandez's injured trots); Ortiz was responsible for ten of them. The big one, though, came on May 24 in Tampa Bay. Papi hit one of his high pop-flies down the rightfield line. He watched it for a moment, unsure if it would stay fair or not. The home plate umpire was also unsure, and strolled up the line to follow it. By the time Ortiz had taken a few steps out of the box, the ump began to retreat, briefly getting in Papi's way. He quickly stepped around the umpire and continued on his way. By the time he reached home plate - after doing his regular stutter-step into each base and then slowing down into a walk as he reached the plate in order to kiss his hands towards the heavens - a full half-minute had passed.
I had been waiting for the moment all year, and was more than just a little pleased to see that it was Big Papi who accomplished the feat. Boston newspapers and radio saw the feat differently. In the end, the May 24 trot was the only one all year to break the 30-second barrier without the aid of injury. In a way, I'm glad - it makes Papi's feat all the more special. I can't wait to see him replicate it in 2011.