Thousands upon thousands of strikeouts coming in all forms (looking, swinging, check-swinging) and on every type of pitch (fastball, curveball, knuckleball, etc.) are recorded throughout the course of a baseball season.
If you watched all of them consecutively, very few would look exactly the same. Well, aside from those recorded by machines like Justin Verlander or Aroldis Chapman, I should say. But I don't know that we have seen or will see one this season that would standout quite like Wade LeBlanc's strikeout of Aramis Ramirez in the Brewers' 8-4 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.
It happened in the third inning with LeBlanc ahead in the count 1-2. He then let fly with an 87 mph four-seam fastball that sailed up and in on Ramirez, forcing Milwaukee's third baseman to duck for safety. At that point the ball clearly made contact with something, as evidenced by the pop sound it made, though it was difficult initially to determine whether it was the bat, or possibly even Ramirez's hand or helmet. All we knew for sure upon the first look and listen was the ball hit something, and then Marlins catcher Rob Brantly caught it cleanly.
Home plate umpire Mark Carlson had to make a quick decision based on that first look and the listen, and with very little hesitation ruled the ball hit the bat, meaning Ramirez was out on the unluckiest of all possible strikeouts.
Here's a look at the decisive pitch and Carlson's ruling:
Of course Ramirez would argue the ball made contact with his hand, but he was not able to sell Carlson or his huddling crew members enough to change the call. Several replay angles would then confirm that Carlson's eyes, ears and instincts were correct, so kudos to him for getting the unique and difficult call right.
And I say unique while fully understanding we've seen foul balls in the past that have struck a bat while a player was ducking for cover. That actually happens fairly often, and umpires have just as difficult a time figuring out what, if anything, the ball contacted. But I can't recall seeing a third strike go down in this manner, with the catcher securing the ricochet to complete a possible out.
I would imagine it's a tough call to make at live speed, or more difficult than it would be on a strike one or strike two pitch anyway. At least in that case you're not deciding to take a player's at-bat away. So with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and rule this the most unusual strikeout of the season. But I'll give you the power to overrule me if you so choose.