Gregory Polanco had Greg Holland in a bind. Leading off the ninth inning in a one-run game, he worked the count to 3-1. Holland isn’t exactly a control artist, and none of his first four pitches had been in the zone — Polanco could sit dead red and only engage with a pitch he could pummel. He got it — middle-middle no less — and took a mighty cut:
Whoops! That wasn’t what Polanco was aiming for, and Holland got away with one. He finished Polanco off with a 3-2 slider below the zone, and the Pirates went down in order.
Everyone misses a cookie once in a while. Polanco, however, is making a habit of it this year. Here he is against Carlos Carrasco (see what I did there?) in August:
All told, Polanco has taken a swing at 26 pitches in the white hot center of the strike zone this year. He’s come up empty on 12 of them. That’s the worst rate in the majors this year — unsurprisingly — and the second-worst whiff rate on middle-middle pitches since the beginning of the pitch tracking era in 2008. Among batters who took at least 25 cuts at down-the-middle pitches, only Kyle Parker (in 2015) did worse. You haven’t heard of Kyle Parker, because, well, he swung…