The 2012 Season In Slow Home Runs

A little over two weeks ago, I wrote up The 2012 Season In High Home Runs. That concluded a four-part home-runs-by-pitch-location series, but of course, pitch-location data isn’t the only data that we have, and there are other extremes to explore. Given that it’s late on Friday and R.A. Dickey hasn’t been traded yet, I think, I figured now would be a good time to mess around again with something similar. So now we’re going to look at the slowest pitches hit for home runs during the 2012 season.

Which makes you think the title here should be different, since this seems to suggest we’re going to look at the home runs that were the slowest off the bat, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker. That would indeed be a thing to look at, but that’s not what’s happening here, and it’s only titled this way to be consistent with the other home-run entries. The headline is already up there and there’s nothing I can do about it now. Once a word is entered on a computer, it cannot be erased by any means with which I’m familiar.

Our top-five list is a top-six list, because there’s a tie for the fifth spot, or for the sixth spot, depending on your preference. I could’ve just left one of them off, and you probably never would have known, but I’m an honest, forthcoming kind of guy, and I would never attempt to deceive you for the sake of my own convenience. We’re limited here by two things, both having to do with PITCHf/x: for one, PITCHf/x didn’t capture every single pitch of the season, and for two, PITCHf/x velocity readings aren’t thought to be 100% accurate. There could be mathematical shenanigans afoot. But in the event of such misleading information, know that it wouldn’t be presented that way intentionally. Because, remember, honest and forthcoming. I want you to know what I know, reader of FanGraphs.

The slowest pitch hit for a home run this season might have been faster than the fastest pitch you could be capable of throwing. That would apply to at least some of you. Does that mean that at least some of you could pitch in the major leagues without ever surrendering an out-of-the-park homer? Based on the data I think the answer is irrefutably yes. Congratulations on being big-league caliber, and reverse congratulations on being under-appreciated. There’s a market inefficiency for the woefully unathletic. Someday you’ll be discovered, someday.

Here we go. Two pitchers, you’ll see twice. Only a small fraction of pitchers occasionally hang out toward this end of the velocity spectrum. If I had to guess, I’d say you’ve heard of all the pitchers shown here. “Wow, how did he know that?” you just exclaimed. Send me a $20 Paypal donation to find out my secret!

(5t) Corey Hart, August 31, vs. Jeff Karstens

video highlight

67.3 miles per hour

1-and-2 count, by the way. This hanging curveball was thrown up there in a 1-and-2 count. My favorite part is the catcher getting up like “daaammmnnnnn“. But the part I can’t stop thinking about is Jeff Karstens’ reaction. The ball was hit to Karstens’ arm side. Karstens watched it in flight — not interesting — but only after turning to his glove side. Karstens turned in…I’m not going to call it the “wrong” direction, but the unusual direction. Why did Jeff Karstens do that? It’s not like I could ask him, since this is the sort of thing no one remembers doing. It would be like asking you about the last time you put your toothbrush in your medicine cabinet. But Karstens turned first to the side without a baseball on it. Chalk that up as just another thing that’s kind of weird about Jeff Karstens.

(5t) Aaron Hill, June 29, vs. Randy Wolf

video highlight

67.3 miles per hour

Kottaras: low curve
Kottaras: low curve
Kottaras: low curve
Wolf: /high curve
Hill: /ding dong
Kottaras: I wanted a low curve
Wolf: I didn’t hear the low part
Kottaras: I didn’t say the low part
I signaled the low part
Wolf: oh
Wolf: oh is that what you’re doing

(4) Scott Hairston, June 15, vs. Bronson Arroyo

video highlight

66.9 miles per hour

Can’t stop watching that one guy in the upper left. Tried. Can’t stop. Can’t stop watching him. You got ‘em all beat, buddy!

As a pitcher, when you get away with a slow curve like this, you feel kind of wicked and clever. When it gets pummeled, because it’s basically just a lob intended to trick the best hitters on the planet, you’re overcome with disgust and regret. Just ask Bronson Arroyo, immediately afterward.

The ball hit the facing of the second deck and returned to the field of play, as if in some way it was haunting Bronson Arroyo. Usually, when you give up a home run, at least the ball is gone and shortly forgotten. This ball tried to go all the way back where it started. I wonder if all of Bronson Arroyo’s home run balls do this? I wonder if Bronson Arroyo has had just the one same home run ball all along? If so he should probably stop throwing it.

(3) Danny Valencia, September 22, vs. Randy Wolf

video highlight

66.6 miles per hour

Compare Wolf here to Wolf above. Here, he’s pitching for a different team. But he throws the same pitch, he gets the same result, and he watches it fly out of the same pose. That’s a veteran pose, an experienced pose. That’s the pose of a guy who’s no stranger to the home run. Young guys, they’re more liable to panic. Their home-run responses will be inconsistent. Wolf, he’s got it down to a steady science. From Randy Wolf, you could learn a lot about the art of allowing a dinger.

(2) Brett Lawrie, June 10, vs. Livan Hernandez

video highlight

66.0 miles per hour


Boy, that’s a good sign. Him waiting on a breaking ball the way he did and then hammering it. He stayed back on it, didn’t drift forward, and turned on it, and more importantly Villanueva could just jog around the bases.

“more importantly”

(1) Tyler Greene, August 11, vs. Livan Hernandez

video highlight

65.7 miles per hour

And, as with Randy Wolf, we see Livan Hernandez twice, pitching for two different teams. I can’t imagine why these guys weren’t held onto. What I think is most remarkable here is how we see Greene literally waiting on the pitch to arrive. He plants his foot, then he pauses, then he resumes his swing once the ball is a little closer. Usually you expect to see it a little more fluid than that, but Tyler Greene‘s swing was a step function. My conclusion is that Tyler Greene is strong. Tyler Greene has a career .356 big-league slugging percentage. Big-leaguers are so much better than we are. Even Astros big-leaguers.

Print This Post

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

32 Responses to “The 2012 Season In Slow Home Runs”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. B says:

    Feels like inertia if you watch them all really fast.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. LTG says:

    Why did Jeff Karstens do that?

    Some of us, not going to say who exactly, but some of us, while engaged in athletic activity, turn with the body’s current motion rather than against it even if it means losing track of the ball briefly because doing so allows one to get into position more quickly and into better position. Karstens wanted to be in the best position possible as soon as possible to watch the ball fly very far.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. TheHoustonian says:

    That Wolf/Kottaras exchange is my favorite thing on the entire Internet right now.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Wil says:

    Haha,fantastic. Simply fantastic.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Fredi says:

    How did Sullivan not make a “Slow” joke about me putting Livan in those leverage spots in the first place?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Jaker says:

    Oh man, that pause by Greene is gold. He probably lost so much momentum and power and yet still managed to crush it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • nolan says:

      Well, Greene keeps back on the ball and doesn’t rotate his hips until he swings so I don’t think he lost much momentum at all.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jack says:

        not how it usually works. while you obviously want to stay back on breaking balls and not over commit, you do lose some power when you stride and plant too early, regardless of whether or not youve started rotating

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. james wilson says:

    I most enjoy the pitcher who doesn’t look, or even looks away.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. MSpitz says:

    Unfortunately, your joke about the announcers for the Lawrie home run doesn’t count. Why? Because they’re the Jays announcers…and the Jays announcers are absolutely fucking terrible.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris3173 says:

      That particular moron has to be Buck Martinez, famous for once saying that slow-running catchers “just clog up the basepaths”. I actually think this was a good catch here by Fangraphs precisely because it shows the total bogosity of Jays announcers. There are still Jays fans in denial about this who will try to tell you that all the other teams’ broadcasters are just as bad.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. tyke says:

    awesome article. that last .gif with greene waiting is gold.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ross says:

      Isn’t Villanueva a pitcher? In the AL? As a Yankees fan who watched his beloved Chien-Ming Wang end his Yankee career on the basepaths, i kinda get where they are coming from.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. merizobeach says:

    “Which makes you think the title here should be different, since this seems to suggest we’re going to look at the home runs that were the slowest off the bat, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker. That would indeed be a thing to look at, but that’s not what’s happening here, and it’s only titled this way to be consistent with the other home-run entries. The headline is already up there and there’s nothing I can do about it now. Once a word is entered on a computer, it cannot be erased by any means with which I’m familiar.”

    Why is that at Fangraphs–more often than any other media outlet I read–the journalists see fit to include themselves in the story? Don’t you guys have an editor? I sincerely do appreciate the actual analysis, just not the attempted-humor, meaningless fluff and self-aggrandizement. The news is the story, not the writer; it’s a terribly poor journalistic habit that has gone on too long and become far too common on this site. It is unbecoming for the unparalleled standard of baseball analysis here to be accompanied by such a sloppy standard of journalism. Thank you, folks, for bearing my rant; I hope you might consider this opinion.

    -29 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Nickname Damur says:

      Maybe these writers include themselves in their articles because Fangraphs is, at heart, simply an extended paean to “Pearls Before Swine.” They don’t want to be self-aggrandizing, but they must, because they want to be true to the spirit of the comic strip. Paradoxically, the more self-referential they appear, the more selfless their intent.

      Despite this lofty if somewhat outre raison d’etre, you will note that just about all of these writers make every effort to be objective and accurate in their presentations. They generally apologize when they make mistakes. And they let you know if they have a bias (like Sullivan being a Mariners fan).

      Humor and drama and surprise are elements that all writers, including journalists, use to make their work appealing.

      The day Fangraphs becomes a succession of graphs and tables is the day I stop reading it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Anon21 says:

      Because it’s funny? And because this isn’t “news,” but rather just kind of a quirk piece?

      Honestly, I don’t think anyone agrees with you. Jeff’s a funny writer, and that’s a good part of what makes him worth reading. Not all of us are robots who communicate exclusively in FTP exchanges of SPSS datasets.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Toasty says:

      Because Jeff likes writing? Go sort the PitchFX tables yourself.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      They do this mostly of stories that were written for fun, like this one. I don’t see much of this out of articles posted for the purpose of analysis.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • The Foils says:

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      You are on a place that ends in .com. It is by definition a no-journalism zone. And this article was very funny.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eric says:

      Now that’s what I call edgy

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. tom says:

    oh gosh. jeff, possibly i am stealing your thunder here, but the thing i find most interesting about this list is that (and i’m 95% certain this is correct) tyler greene was also the baseball player to hit the fastest-pitched home run of the season, on a 101 mph pitch by andrew cashner. and he did it for a different team!

    everyone: i’m sorry if i have ruined the surprise. :(

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Kris says:

    clint eastwood has no use for these soundless internet images.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Toasty says:

    Good thing Wolf was so good at communicating with the personal catcher he demanded he have.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. garrett hawk says:

    Sullivan’s a clever writer. It’s rare that I laugh out loud at baseball articles.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Matty Brown says:

    I enjoyed this.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Travis Snider's Lunchbox says:

    No ‘slow homerun’ list is complete without the absolute monster crushed by Giancarlo Stanton, a grand slam off Jamie Moyer that scalded through the air and broke the Marlin’s new scoreboard this past season. Maybe Moyer’s pitch wasn’t quite as slow as these five listed but this one was at 72 mph and the ball is still orbiting somewhere, a few months later after Giancarlo was done with it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *