Backyard Baseball Pitcher Rankings and .gifs

Last month, I wrote a whole lot of words ranking the 30 original Backyard Baseball kids as major league free agents. You can read that gargantuan post by clicking here. However, these rankings ignored the kids’ pitching ratings. So here we are! These rankings are based on the usual HOW MANY BASEBALLS rating system. Players whose ratings were tied were ranked according to my experience pitching with or batting against them.

(a huge thanks to Bailey Bowers, who made these .gifs, along with the original .gifs of all the Backyard kids’ swings, which you can see by clicking here)

1. Angela Delvecchio – 10/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: She’s the best, and it’s not close. Her long hair helps to hide the ball when she brings it behind her head before whipping it towards the plate at blinding speeds and with insane movement. Batters have no chance. She’s probably the only NUMBER ONE STARTER among the Backyard kids, and justifiably so. Along with the immense talent, Delvecchio brings the Italian spunk that you just can’t find in Anthony Rizzo or Alex Liddi.

2.  Luanne Lui – 9/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Luanne has easily the most deceptive delivery among all Backyard pitchers. Her ability to juggle her beloved teddy bear and throw strikes is unparalleled in the baseball universe. Her pink teddy definitely hinders her ability to field, but she’s striking out so many batters that it doesn’t usually matter. Unless she’s got Dmitri backing her up at second base, like in this .gif, in which case, she might be running some crazy high BABIPs. Stuff wise, she’s one of the premier arms. The ball just explodes out of her hand and she knows when to use her secondary stuff. Luanne fails to really ever leave the mound, as her right foot finishes tilted on its side on top of the mound, but hopefully she can learn to use her whole body and drive towards the plate in the future.

3. Amir Khan – 9/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Widely regarded as one of the most dominant closers in the game, Amir brings power and confidence to the mound to back up his impressive array of pitches. The fastball can sit anywhere between 97-100 with sink and run and cut and tilt and shape and other words for pitch movement. With such a ridiculous heater, Amir barely throws any off-speed stuff because he is so confident that he can blow hitters away with ease. While this has worked for him so far against elementary schoolers, it will be interesting to see how he adjusts when facing major league hitters who can square up velocity. For now, Amir will just keep throwing gas. Mechanics wise, Amir is pretty clean but doesn’t appear to have the biggest stride towards the plate. Sure, you can blame it on his tiny legs because is a small child, but you also might question his lack of desire to maximize his potential. Definite question marks.

4. Kenny Kawaguchi – 7/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Far and away the most controversial Backyard pitcher/player in the game, Kenny combines paraplegia with an obnoxious sense of self-importance whenever he takes the field. Don’t even get me started on all the balks this kid is probably getting away with, but more importantly, does he have to spin? It appears that he is throwing the ball so hard using only his upper body that it propels him and his superchair to do a complete 360 before the ball even reaches home plate. It’s safe to say that no one has ever seen this delivery before. Kenny has a distinct advantage on the mound in that every batter facing him for the first time allows him to strike them out because they feel bad for him. This has skyrocketed his K/9 rates in his brief career thus far, and is probably not the best indicator for performance going forward. Don’t get me wrong; Kenny is a great pitcher, with one of the better slowballs in the game and a devastating right hook at times. But don’t underestimate the risk with this pitcher.

5. Sally Dobbs – 7/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: You have to appreciate Sally’s attempt to bring the ball over her head Roy Halladay style. She can’t quite do it because of her hat and her oddly shaped hair, but at least she’s trying. It appears as if she is going to fall down every time she rears back but manages to stay balanced and maintain her release point. She’s an innings-eater with plus command and the ability to change the hitter’s eye level when she needs to. Solid number three starter.

6. Ronny Dobbs – 7/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Sall’s little brother displays a much higher-effort delivery. He hides the ball well, but it’s clear that the distinguishing feature of his motion is his entirely unnecessary jump. His football shaped head provides plenty of landing space for his hat when his little hop propels it into the air. Ronny keeps a smile on at all times, but can be scared easily by just about every hitter. Ronny once started a game for the Mighty Wombats but had to come out of the game in the first inning because opposing hitter tony Delvecchio growled at him. He’s a frail one, but Ronny’s arm is nothing to sneeze at. The kid’s got talent.

7. Ernie Steele – 7/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Ernie is as lanky as it gets. It’s incredible how complicated his delivery is without ever even leaving the rubber. It seems as if Ernie’s two feet are glued to the rubber and these are the mechanics he developed to cope with that problem. Since Ernie is glued to the mound, he has a few limitations in his game in that he can only pitch on this exact mound at this exact park. This means he has to pitch for both teams in whatever game is played and he cannot rest. He will pitch until his arm blows out and that’s just that. Poor Ernie.

8. Marky Dubois – 7/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Marky is the first southpaw to appear on this list. His glimmering buckteeth distract the batter like no other facial feature has in the history of baseball. His lack of cleats increases his injury risk, probably. We don’t really know for sure because most baseball players protect their feet with some sort of footwear, but we can reasonably assume that it doesn’t help him very much. His delivery isn’t too funky, if you disregard the brief moment he tilts back and looks up at the sky.

9. Gretchen Hasselhoff – 6/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Gretchen’s delivery is one of the more underrated ones in terms of strangeness and its ability to defy physics. Hasselhoff appears to be almost karate chopping with her left hand and somehow the ball is released at an upward angle and accurately towards home plate. If Gretchen isn’t a dominant LOOGY, I don’t know what a dominant LOOGY is. As long as she stays in the bullpen and is used selectively, she can be effective. Just don’t pit her against pretty much any competent right-handed bat. It would get ugly.

10. Sidney and Ashley Webber – 6/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: When analyzing the Webber sisters’ pitching mechanics, the only worthwhile thing to do is try and distinguish between the two. And when you try to do that and realize there are absolutely zero differences, you begin to ponder the advantages of having two of the exact same player on your team. If you do enough double-switching, you could probably get away with having them pitch alternate innings to avoid tiring one out too quickly. I don’t know if it’s genius, implausible, or downright stupid, but basically the Astros should at least give it a shot.

11. Pablo Sanchez – 5/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Here’s the thing about Pablo; despite his ratings and ranking on this list, he is probably one of the best pitchers in the game. The reality is that no Backyard Baseballer, let alone a general manager in their right mind would ever waste #MVPablo’s immense talent on the mound. The Secret Weapon belongs on the diamond every god damn day of the long season and putting him in a pitching rotation with four other peons would be a disastrous mistake for your team. However, if you really need him, he’s best in relief where he will put up Kimbrel-esque K/9 rates along with never allowing any home runs ever. But again, Pablo is an everyday player through and through, and should only be used on the mound in very particular situations. Besides, wouldn’t you rather watch him hit dingers?

12. Vicki Kawaguchi – 5/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: It’s probably a concern when your delivery has significantly more motion after you release the ball than before. But alas, Vicki is a decently serviceable pitcher when utilized properly. Her biggest downfall is that she essentially shows the batter exactly what pitch she is about to show before she throws it. No one ever explained to Vicki that tipping your pitches is actually a bad thing. Luckily, her stuff is good enough to keep hitters honest. It could also be argued that her immediate post-release pose provides enough deception to cancel out her initial disadvantage of SHOWING THE BATTER THE EXACT PITCH SHE IS ABOUT TO THROW.  

13. Dante Robinson – 5/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: This is one of the rare cases where Dante takes a break from chowing down on whatever snack is tickling his fancy at the moment and just goes to work on the mound. He’s a solid mid-rotation starter with impressive velocity from the left side. Most notably, it’s simply incredible that he manages to keep his hat on top of his plus-plus afro throughout his delivery. Dante is one of the more popular pitchers amongst the Backyard kids, and will always be a fan favorite wherever he goes.

14. Stephanie Morgan – 5/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: As I mentioned in the initial player rankings, Stephanie was simply born to play shortstop. Of course she has a good arm, but this conversion is probably not meant to be. Somewhat similar to Pablo, you would be wasting a lot of premium talent by putting Stephanie on the bump. She’s also got one of the more herky-jerky motions you’ll see from the Backyard bunch. She lifts her knee up to her face and then pushes it away with her glove hand as she releases the ball from behind her head. She’s got deception, but often she is deceiving herself just as much, and can lose her command at any point during the game. Just keep her at shortstop.

15. Ricky Johnson – 5/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Ricky is probably one of the best candidates for a conversion to the mound considering he is one of the worst hitters among the Backyard crew. He’s got tools, but he’s been stuck in A-ball for 5 years now and has yet to hit above .230 for a full season. He’s got plenty of arm strength and just needs to learn how to use it to its maximum potential when pitching. His current delivery seems rushed and could benefit greatly from more professional instruction. Of course, if pitching doesn’t work out, he still has endless football scholarship offers to fall back on.

16. Kiesha Phillips – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Everyone loves Kiesha. Kiesha employs the mid-delivery turn that is similar to that of Johnny Cueto and Felix Hernandez. She also brings the ball down behind her before progressing towards the plate. She’s certainly a much more imposing presence on the mound than most, but her stuff is fairly pedestrian and could probably only survive at the back of a big league rotation. Realistically, if you know Kiesha, you know you want her in the middle of your lineup. She should only be used as a pitcher in games lasting 14+ innings.

17. Lisa Crocket – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Lisa has a similar problem to Ernie in that she never quite makes it off the rubber. I love this delivery though; Lisa recognized her lack of strength in her lower-half and decided to rely solely on upper-body strength to get the ball across the plate. Even considering this apparent handicap, Lisa can show impressive velocity if you catch her on the right day. Her lack of any even fringe-average secondary stuff is what keeps her from being a viable rotation option. She’s definitely most valuable out of the bullpen.

18. Billie Jean Blackwood – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Her height has always been a laughable advantage, especially when facing third graders literally half her size. Her size combined with her exaggerated leg kick does not make opposing hitters very comfortable in the box. When you factor in the huge ponytail flailing behind her, Billie Jean might be the toughest Backyard kid to face on deception alone. Both her right and left hooks can flash plus but her velocity is only average. She’s a more talented, more attractive version of 6″10 right-hander Chris Young. She’s also not starting games for the Mariners.

19. Mikey Thomas – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: We love Mikey Thomas here at the BBQ. Should we be concerned that Mikey appears to only have four fingers on his right hand? Probably. Should we be impressed that Mikey appears to release the ball from his palm and manage to get it to home plate? Absolutely. Is Mikey Thomas throwing a knuckleball? Maybe. There are so many questions about Mikey’s delivery and each one makes us love him that much more.

20. Reese Worthington – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: LOOK AT THE DETERMINATION ON HIS FACE. Reese Witherspoon Worthington always puts in 110% effort into his game no matter where he’s playing on the diamond. On the mound, he’s got plus velocity and decent secondary stuff but is EXTREMELY prone to giving up home runs. His command is spotty at best. He usually pitches to two or three too many batters because his managers never want to hurt his feelings by taking him out of the game too quickly. However, Reese is more resilient than most give him credit for. He has the mental toughness to handle a few bad outings in a row. He’s a perfect fit for the Angels bullpen.

21. Jorge Garcia – 4/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Jorge makes up for his ungodly swing with this…slightly more normal delivery. He barely utilizes his glove side at all. This is the definition of a loose arm. My favorite part of Jorge’s delivery is right at the end when he displays this hilarious look of “oh no what did I just do”. He hasn’t taken his tie off in over seven years, and certainly doesn’t plan to any time soon, so there is some concern that it could get in the way of his delivery sometimes and cause him to balk.

22. Jocinda Smith – 3/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: If you had any previous knowledge of Jocinda Smith’s baseball ability, you would never expect her to have such an absurd delivery. And yet, here she is showcasing what has to be one of the more complicated and painful-looking deliveries around today. The most amazing thing is her ability to keep her eyes focused on the catcher’s target as she violently tilts back and jerks the ball down behind her before release. This outrageous delivery may explain her complete lack of command or control. At the elementary school level, it is assumed that the best player on the team can also pitch. Jocinda is the perfect counter-example to that notion.

23. Tony Delvecchio – 3/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Sure, there’s always the risk of Tony choking on his everlasting lollipop whenever he pitches. The bigger concern is Tony’s slimy history of cheating. He is notorious for doctoring the baseball with anything from pine tar to the disgusting amount of grease in his hair. His true talent level as a pitcher is far below the results he’s gotten to this point. Everyone knows he’s cheating, but no one knows how to enforce it because everyone is 10. Tony has beat up on younger competition his entire career. It will be interesting to see if his cheating abilities tick up at all once he reaches the big leagues.

24. Kimmy Eckman – 3/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Kimmy displays impeccable balance as she literally winds up the ball behind her before coming straight over the top and towards the plate. This .gif doesn’t quite do her delivery justice; her deception comes from the hitter having no idea how many times she’s going to wind the ball up. Sometimes she’ll wind it up once before release, sometimes she’ll stand there, balanced on her right leg, winding the ball up for minutes before releasing the ball. This quirk obviously hinders Kimmy’s ability to keep runners from stealing every possible base when she’s on the mound, but that’s the catch with having Kimmy in your rotation. Unfortunately, Kimmy is such a bad position player that her best chance to succeed is actually on the mound. Proceed with caution.

25. Maria Luna – 3/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: If you want a left-handed reliever with slightly above-average stuff, Maria your is girl. If you want a tiny version of Aroldis Chapman, give Maria a pink uniform and watch her strike out every batter she faces. Just do it.

26. Pete Wheeler – 2/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: There are no words that exist in the English language that could possibly used to describe whatever it is Pete Wheeler is doing here, but all I know is that it is awesome and it definitely cannot work in the major leagues.

27. Achmed Khan – 2/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Unlike when he bats, Achmed’s inability to hear anything through his gigantic headphones does not prevent him from knowing the count. His biggest disadvantage is that he can’t hear his catcher telling him to stop throwing the ball over the middle of the plate. He pitches to the tune of whatever Slipknot song is penetrating his brain at the moment and that is generally not a good strategy to get hitters out.

28. Annie Frazier – 1/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Sure, Annie is a bit of an odd girl, but there is absolutely zero explanation for what she does with her glove before every pitch. I’d imagine it’s pretty disorienting for opposing hitters, but other than that…I’m totally stumped. You do you, Annie Frazier. You do you.

29. Dmitri Petrovich – 1/10 baseballs
Repertoire: Heat, Slowball, Left Hook, Right Hook, Intentional Walk

Notes: Dmitri is the worst. He gives up dinger after dinger after walking seven guys and balking three times all before recording an out. You would pay him to stay away from your pitching staff, and frankly, your entire organization. But hey, he knows what FIP is. That’s something.


Thanks for reading. If you want more Backyard Baseball in your life, click here.

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