David Fletcher gave new meaning to the term “seeing-eye hit” Friday night when the Angels infielder lashed a pitch that was nearly over his head into the right-field corner for a double, one of the team’s few highlights in a 5-3 loss at Oakland.
“That’s about as high as it gets,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said, when asked how many times he’s seen a batter hit a pitch that high. “That was badminton, that was tennis, that was piñata … a lot of different things occurred right there.”
The 5-foot-9 Fletcher was in protect mode on a two-strike pitch from Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers, whose 89-mph fastball, according to Statcast, was 4.74 feet off the ground — and about even with the brim of Fletcher’s helmet — when it crossed the plate.
Fletcher somehow got his barrel to the ball, which left his bat at 85.8 mph and shot past first baseman Matt Olson for a double.
“Ideally, I’d like to not swing at that pitch, but he had me a little rushed up there,” Fletcher said. “I just saw it, kind of reacted, and luckily I was able to get the barrel to it.”
The swing left his teammates, including Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani, in stitches. Several mimicked Fletcher’s swing, looking like lumberjacks splitting wood with an ax.
“Yeah, that was pretty funny,” Fletcher said. “I saw Goody and Shohei were in there laughing at me.”
As rare as it is for a player to strike a ball so high, it’s usually the shorter players who do so, almost by necessity, Maddon said.
“When you’re not really tall, you get a lot of high fastballs, so shorter major league players tend to be good high-ball hitters,” Maddon said. “Go back to [5-foot-5 shortstop] Freddie Patek, I saw [5-foot-6] David Eckstein do the same thing.
“Guys have to do that because they get a lot of fastballs thrown up and a lot of elevated fastballs called strikes, so it’s a defense mechanism.”