The bat flip has become commonplace in the modern game. It has been popular in Asia dating back to the early 1990s, but the bat flip goes back further with some of the best bat flips to show off after hitting the long ball occurring as far back as 60 years ago.
Only done after a home run, the bat flip is considered by some as awesome, and by some as showing off or rude and not aligned with baseball’s unwritten rules about not showing up another player.
Former major league player Torii Hunter once noted that the bat flips seen in Korean baseball would almost certainly face retaliation in the form of a hit by pitch in the major leagues. Current Mexican Leaguer and former major league player Yasiel Puig vowed while with the Dodgers in 2015 to flip the bat less frequently after a home run so as not to disrespect the game.
Let’s took a look at some of the best bat flips of all time.
Jose Bautista – Blue Jays (2015 ALDS Game 5 versus Texas Rangers)
The Blue Jays made the postseason in 2015 for the first time since winning the World Series on Joe Carter’s memorable home run in 1993. During the resurrection of the franchise, Jose Bautista was a huge factor. Coming off 40 home runs and 114 RBI during the regular season, Bautista launched one of the most significant home runs in Blue Jays’ history in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rangers.
A three-run home run to deep left-center with the score tied in the bottom of the seventh propelled the Blue Jays to a series win. Known as “Joey Bats,” Bautista admired his bomb and flipped his bat before his slow home run trot in a very forceful, definitive way. The Rangers took exception and didn’t forget. The following May, the act led to a fight between the two teams, with Rougned Odor and Bautista in the middle.
Fernando Tatis Jr – San Diego Padres (2020 NL Wild Card Game 2 versus St. Louis Cardinals)
Tatis struggled in the early part of this series, going 1-for-6 with three strikeouts. Tatis got the Padres back into the game on the brink of elimination, connecting on a 96-mph heater from Daniel Ponce de Leon and hammered it over the right-field fence. The Padres lead opened to three runs, which turned out to be crucial. The Cardinals got those three runs back for the Padres won, 11-9. The bat flip that followed the home run was done partially out of joy and excitement, but make no mistake about it, Tatis’ bat flip was more than just that and was for good reason compared to Bautista’s flip from five seasons prior.
Tom Lawless – St. Louis Cardinals (1987 World Series Game 4 versus Minnesota Twins)
The most unlikely person to make this list, Lawless had only 110 hits and two home runs in 343 games over parts of eight major league seasons.
Lawless had only one home run in the fourth game against the Twins of the 1987 World Series. After launching a tie-breaking three-run homer against lefty Frank Viola, Lawless looked like he’d been flipping bats for years. While the crowd at St. Louis’ Buch Stadium went crazy, Lawless stood in awe of his blast. Jogging up the first-base line with the bat still in hand, he emphatically flipped it high in the air with an end-over-end rotation.
Manny Ramirez – Boston Red Sox (2007 ALDS Game 2 versus Los Angeles Angels)
In almost an eerie coincidence, the bomb hit by Ramirez was smashed against the same team, same park, and nearly the same spot as David Ortiz hit three years prior. The home run by Ramirez put the Red Sox on the verge of the ALDS sweep over the Angels. After the fluid, powerful swing that launched the bomb off Francisco Rodriguez, Ramirez released his bat almost immediately after the follow-through. Lifting both hands in celebration, he admired his game-winner sail over the fence.
Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies (April 2, 2019, versus Washington Nationals)
A month after signing for with the Phillies for 13 years and $330 million, Harper returned to Washington to face his old teammates. Unlike the cheers Harper received during his seven seasons in Washington, he was greeted with boos each time up, striking out twice against Max Scherzer.
Harper silenced the crowd with a bomb in the eighth inning, admiring his blast that followed with one of the best bat flips we’ve seen.
This bat flip was talked about and shown repeatedly well after the game ended.
Yoenis Cespedes – New York Mets (2015 NLDS Game 3 versus Los Angeles Dodgers)
Cespedes hit 17 home runs in 57 games after the Mets acquired him at the trade deadline. His contributions were critical to the Mets winning the NL East and advancing to the World Series. With the Mets up 7-3 in the fourth inning of Game 3 against the Dodgers, Cespedes belted a three-run home run. The crowd went bonkers, and Cespedes added the punctuation mark with an emphatic bat flip.
Pete Alonso – New York Mets (May 7, 2019, versus San Diego Padres)
Alonso didn’t take lightly the comments made by San Diego rookie Chris Paddock criticizing Alonso winning the Rookie of the Month on May 6. Alonso answered the next day with a mammoth 9th inning blast off Adam Warren. The shot, estimated at 449 feet, came off the bat at 115 mph and hit off the third deck in left field. Just as he started his slow trot around the bases, Alonso let loose of his bat, almost striking the home plate umpire in the process.
Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles Dodgers (2020 NLCS Game 7 versus Atlanta Braves)
The COVID-19 shortened MLB season still had plenty of drama. In Game 7 of the NLCS, with the pennant up for grabs, the Dodgers and Braves were tied at 3-3.
Braves reliever Chris Martin tried to sneak a fastball past Cody Bellinger. It didn’t work, as Bellinger destroyed the ball, sending it over the right-field fence. Bellinger flipped his bat out in front of home plate as soon as the ball left the bat. It was a majestic flip in the most pressure-packed situation.