5 Worst Cases of the Yips in Baseball


Rick Ankiel

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Rick Ankiel, was named High School Player of the Year and Minor League Player of the Year by USA Today and was called, "the most promising young left-handed pitcher in a generation," by The New York Times Magazine. When he signed with the Cardinals, he received a $2.5 million bonus, the 5th largest ever given to an amateur at the time. Coach Tony La Russa picked him to play in the first game of the National League division series against the Atlanta Braves and he played his first playoff game when he was only 21 [source: Jordan].

But in that National League division series, Ankiel threw 9 wild pitches and walked 11 batters in just 4 innings [source: Jordan]. His wild pitches broke a record that had held steady since all the way back in 1890. Not quite MVP status. Ankiel had lost his pitching skills.

The year after pitching in the National League division series he was sent down to the minors. And even though it doesn't seem like it could, things got even worse from there. He walked over 30 batters in just 25 innings and had more than 20 wild pitches [source: Star]. After trying unsuccessfully to resurrect his pitching, Ankiel re-started his baseball career as an outfielder.