What I like about this little InstaGraphs section is that it allows for plays to be highlighted even if they don’t turn out all that important. Given what the Cubs pulled off Monday, it would be weird to dedicate a whole front-page post to a home run hit by Jason Heyward. Not a lot of people even clearly remember a home run being hit by Jason Heyward. The Cubs did well to smother the memory of that dinger with all the dingers of their own. On InstaGraphs, though, I don’t have to care what matters. An InstaGraphs post is almost like a footnote. Let’s you and I watch a footnote.
The Cardinals made it a game again when Heyward went out and clobbered an outside breaking ball. Though the Cubs wouldn’t relinquish the rest of their lead, it did at least make for some nervous moments. And you’ll notice it wasn’t a bad pitch. It wasn’t even a strike. Jake Arrieta threw Heyward a 1-and-1 ball, and Heyward took it the other way for a homer. Arrieta had previously allowed one home run over the span of 412 plate appearances. A run like that is made all the more remarkable when you realize sometimes home runs can just be the result of simple bad luck.
According to PITCHf/x, the home-run pitch was 15 inches away from the middle of home plate, meaning it was more than six inches off the outer edge. That makes it the third-most outside pitch hit for a home run by a lefty in 2015. Heyward is topped only by Chris Davis and Freddie Freeman, and you can see screenshots below:
The thing that stands out here — Davis was pretty far up in the box. Freeman was pretty far up in the box. Heyward was more in the middle, so he had to reach out that much more, accomplishing something close to full extension. While Davis and Freeman hit pitches that were more outside, by a little bit, Heyward’s might’ve been the most outside, relative to his body. I don’t know. It was far away, is the point.
He also hit a line drive, instead of a classic dinger. According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, under ordinary conditions, Heyward’s home run would’ve left precisely one major-league ballpark. Arrieta has now allowed 11 home runs in 2015 — three of them had just enough juice to leave one stadium. Home runs can come out of nowhere. Even when you, the pitcher, have done nothing to deserve them. Sometimes good pitches get hit out. Sometimes pitches that are just plain well out of the zone get hit out. The most amazing thing about Arrieta is that this hasn’t happened more. Maybe now it’s going to. Baseball is stupid like that. Baseball always wants to prove that it’s smarter than you.
That’s a review of what Jason Heyward did. It mattered for some minutes. No one’ll remember it a week or two from now. Yesterday, it was outnumbered by other extraordinary things. Further extraordinary things will take place in the weeks ahead. So many little things are remarkable, and baseball just ties them all together and advances from one to the next almost without ever stopping. And you thought baseball needed to move faster.