The Most Extreme Home Runs of the First Half

Void of any analysis, this post is!

Full of fun GIFs, also, this post is!

Because baseball is still just a game. Despite all the number-crunching, data-mining, spreadsheet-making, question-asking, answer-seeking, conclusion-drawing and soul-sucking we do here at FanGraphs, it’s important every once in a while to just sit back and soak up what it is that keeps us coming back and makes baseball so fun and interesting: Weird things happening all the time. And dingers. One must always remember to appreciate the dingers.

We’re about halfway through the 2014 season now (!), so it’s time for everyone to start doing best first-half this’ and worst first-half thats. Or, in this case, the most extreme first-half homers.

If you’re not familiar with ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, familiarize yo’ self. It’s a live database of every home run hit since 2006, containing both a.) videos of just about every one of them and b.) any piece of information relating to each home run that one could think of, down to the amount in which weather conditions might have played a factor. Sometimes when I’m bored I’ll just comb through the database and get lost in the never-ending stream of dingers and data. That probably speaks more about who I am as a person and the life choices I make than the website itself, but the point is: it’s a nifty little corner of the internet.

I’ve exhausted the capabilities of the site to identify the 14 most unique home runs of the 2014 season to date. They come in all different shapes and sizes. Many of those shapes and sizes are the exact shape and size of one Giancarlo Stanton, believe it or not.

Speaking of which:

Deepest homer – Giancarlo Stanton

dinger1

Because if I didn’t start this off with Giancarlo what am I even doing here. The deepest home run after five games is still the deepest home run after 80 games and could very well be the deepest home run after 162 games. 484 feet, off Eric Stults. My favorite thing about this homer, though, is the left fielder. Usually, an outfielder will humor his pitcher by jogging towards the wall and making it appear the ball has a chance to stay in the field of play. This one barely stayed in the stadium. It would almost be more insulting to act like he was going to make a play on it. And this isn’t even the deepest home run Stanton has hit in his career.

Shortest homer – Chris Davis

dinger2

“Holy shit,” is a natural, audible reaction one might have upon viewing this clip for the first time. It’s quite similar to the one I had. The very same, in fact. David DeJesus is currently on the disabled list. Because he fractured his hand on a check swing, mind you. Not because he ran headfirst at full speed into a solid wall like a Muggle at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

Oh, right. The home run. Just 319 feet, off Erik Bedard. Because Chris Davis is strong and effort is not necessary.

Hardest homer – Giancarlo Stanton

dinger3

Surprise! Get used to this guy, he’ll be back again. I tried to come up with a word to best describe Stanton’s swing here. I came up with “swat.” Sometimes you hear about a guy “swatting the ball to left.” This is a swat if I’ve ever seen one. This 77 mile per hour pitch left Stanton’s bat at 120 miles per hour. I feel like I need to repeat that but I’m not going to, so just read it again for effect.

To my knowledge, no data is available on the quickest homers to leave the park, but I’d have to guess this would be up there. I’ve got it hastily timed at 3.62 seconds. Again, nothing to compare that to, but three-point-anything seconds for a baseball to travel three-hundred-anything feet is pretty remarkable.

Softest homer – Mike Trout

dinger4

Mike Trout homering on a low pitch = normal. Mike Trout homering to the opposite field on a pitch that left his bat at just 91.8 miles per hour = not normal. Then again, Mike Trout’s entire life = not normal. So this is pretty normal.

Most uppercut homer swing – Jose Abreu

dinger5

Know who else isn’t normal? This Jose Abreu guy. So, naturally, the first home run he ever hit in the big leagues is unlike any other to date. In fact, at 45 degrees above horizontal, this swing was the most uppercut dinger swing since David Wright‘s 45.3 degree homer in 2011.

Least uppercut homer swing – Russell Martin

dinger6

It’s tough to tell in the GIF but this really is a home run. It just bounced around in the basket for a second before coming out. The umpires couldn’t quite tell either as they had to go to replay, but the call stood. Russell Martin‘s swing was just 16.4 degrees above horizontal here. This was his second homer of the night. The first was just 18.6 degrees above horizontal, the 10th least uppercut homer swing of the year (there has got to be a better way to word that). So Russell Martin had a great night at the plate in a weird way.

Most pulled homer (RHH) – Billy Butler

dinger7

This is kind of Billy Butler‘s 2014 season in a nutshell. This home run occurred on May 2. It was Butler’s first home of the year, a full month after the regular season began, and he needed every last inch of a dead-pull swing to get it out. Butler’s next home run came another month-plus later, on June 14. He hasn’t hit another one since.

Most pulled homer (LHH) – Brett Gardner

dinger8

I think I’m being a little hard on the Butler, but when you’re a designated hitter and you’re in the same company as Brett Gardner in terms of the type of home runs you hit, that’s not a good thing. It only gets worse when you realize that Gardner has six home runs to Butler’s two this season.

Most oppo homer (RHH) – Giancarlo Stanton

dinger10

Oh come on man. This was an accident. An accident! He was just trying to spoil this pitch and, oops!, it went over the fence. When I played baseball, accidents were pulling my groin in pregame stretches or trying to spit and having it dangle from my mouth for a second before swinging down like a pendulum and landing on my own jersey. When Giancarlo Stanton plays baseball, accidents turn into home runs. This friggin’ guy.

Most oppo homer (LHH) – Juan Francisco

dinger9

Fun fact: the guy that gave up this home run is named Jumbo. Jumbo Diaz! He weighs 278 pounds, and that’s down 70 from where he was last year. Good for you, Jumbo!

Highest homer – Jose Abreu

dinger11

Pictured in this shot are two baseball players doing the thing they’ve done best this season. Jose Abreu: hit home runs. Danny Salazar: allow home runs. If you can’t see my face right now, which I really hope you can’t because why are you in my house, let me tell you that it’s a sad face. As an unabashed Danny Salazar supporter, it’s a very, very sad face. Come back, 2013 Danny. We miss you.

This home run was 160 feet above field level at its apex and the left field wall in Cleveland is 19 feet high so just think about that for a second. If we did our math the same way that’s eight of those walls stacked on top of each other plus 1.3 Michael Brantley‘s standing on top.

Lowest homer – Josh Donaldson

dinger12

Don’t get this confused with Martin’s “least uppercut” homer, as they are understandably similar. Let me explain. Martin’s homer had to do with the plane of the swing itself. This has to do with the actual height, or lackthereof, which the ball reached. In this instance, Josh Donaldson‘s homer got just 43 feet off the ground at the peak of its flight. Martin’s reached 44.

Most wind-aided homer – Alex Gordon

dinger13

Also found on the ESPN Home Run Tracker is a “# Parks” column, which indicates how many of the 30 MLB parks a homer would have left had it occurred in neutral conditions. One of my favorite things is when that number is “0” – which is not a glitch. Usually, it’s due to wind, but sometimes temperature and altitude can be a factor. This season, there are 20 home runs that should not have left any major league park under neutral conditions. The most wind-aided of these is Alex Gordon‘s, which was helped by a 46 mph gust. Right fielder Wil Myers actually broke in on this ball.

Zaniest inside-the-parker – Brandon Barnes

dinger14

Some route there, Angel Pagan!

This play was totally nutty for a few reasons. First, that route. That godawful route. Most inside-the-parkers occur from an outfielder getting injured and falling down. Pagan fell down alright, but it wasn’t because of an injury. Probably would have looked better for him if it was an injury. This was also the last inning and the Rockies were down to their last out. A two-run, two-out inside-the-park homer in the ninth gave Colorado a one-run lead and they went on to win. To top it all off, this was Brandon Barnes‘ second inside-the-park homer in 10 days. There have only been four all year. And with a bonus Hunter Pence throw included, I feel confident in saying I’ve saved the best for last.

Here’s to another half of baseball! And dingers. Oh, the dingers.



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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.


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A Eskpert
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A Eskpert
2 years 3 months ago

Chris st.John of beyond the box score has a synthetic metric called home run damage which handily gives a measure of the extreme ness of home runs.

Someguy
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Someguy
2 years 3 months ago

I can’t stop watching that oppo Stanton shot. Guy is a freak.

Lazer_Town
Guest
Lazer_Town
2 years 3 months ago

Same thing when I saw it couple weeks ago.

Isn’t even just like a popup either, it’s hit very well way opposite field.

Max G
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Max G
2 years 3 months ago

The Chris Davis 319-footer is my favorite. I watched that clip probably a dozen times more than necessary to appreciate Dejesus’ head-first slam to reverse somersault crashing technique.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
2 years 3 months ago

“He weighs 278 pounds, and that’s down 70 from where he was last year. Good for you, Jumbo!”

He’s so proud of that achievement, he chose his jersey number to commemorate it!

Also, with this guy giving up a home run to Juan Francisco, I think we can be confident we’ve seen the heaviest combined home run for the 2014 season.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 3 months ago

Jumbo Diaz is now the heaviest player listed on Baseball Reference, who still have him listed at 315 lbs.

Number two on that list: Jumbo Brown at 295 lbs.

Matt
Guest
Matt
2 years 3 months ago

David DeJesus pretty much epitomizes the Rays’ season in the gif.

Matty Brown
Member
Member
Matty Brown
2 years 3 months ago

I would be interested in seeing a leader-board of fastest acceleration charged into the ball, preferably for home runs. What i mean is how much faster did the ball leave the bat than it arrived. I am sure that Giancarlo one would be up there, if not leading. (77mph -> 120mph)

Campbrice
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Campbrice
2 years 3 months ago

That would be a change in momentum…..you’d need the time of contact to get the acceleration

george
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george
2 years 3 months ago

well, technically that is an average change in acceleration. but ya, to get “fastest acceleration” you need more info

KCDaveInLA
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KCDaveInLA
2 years 3 months ago

Much like the Dramatic Chipmunk or the scared cat walking on two legs, I could watch that David DeJesus GIF all day and never stop laughing.

MikeS
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MikeS
2 years 3 months ago

The Stanton shots are great because the left fielder had him played on the perfect line, just about three clubs too short.

Ed Farmer once told a story about outfielders giving the courtesy jog towards the wall. He said that as a pitcher, he didn’t feel they needed to humor him. He knew the ball was long gone, he knew the outfielder must know it. No need to do it to spare his feelings.

LHPSU
Guest
LHPSU
2 years 3 months ago

“Many of those shapes and sizes are the exact shape and size of one Giancarlo Stanton, believe it or not.”

That sounds so dirty.

Also, I demand that all units on this page be converted into Altuves.

Dan
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Dan
2 years 3 months ago

Davis’ can’t be the shortest homer of the first half. I thought I saw Miguel Cabrera wrap one right around the Pesky Pole in Boston. Can you look that one up?

Tom B
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Tom B
2 years 3 months ago
Capo
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Capo
2 years 3 months ago

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/hrdetail.php?id=2014_1130

May 17, 329 feet and would’ve left 20 parks apparently. Cool looking home run though.

Carl
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Carl
2 years 3 months ago

Wouldn’t one of the 4 inside-the-park homers be the shortest? We’re only counting to the first touching the ground, so rolling 75 feet to a wall doesn’t add to the distance, just like Stanton’s longest home run doesn’t include any bouncing/rolling.

tz
Guest
tz
2 years 3 months ago

All these years we’ve heard how Ichiro could be a 20-40 HR guy if he would just abandon that Ichiro swing of his.

And now we see what happens when Giancarlo Stanton tries to increase his BABIP via the Ichiro swing. Alas, another ball lost into the bleachers.

a eskpert
Guest
a eskpert
2 years 3 months ago

I think the idea was that he wouldn’t be a .330 hitter then. He’d end up with lines similar to Jose Bautista’s 2013. Tons of pop ups, fly balls, and home runs.

Dayton Moore
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Dayton Moore
2 years 3 months ago

Funny, I kept telling people for years that Francouer could be a 40 HR guy.

Campbrice
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Campbrice
2 years 3 months ago

Giancarlo also leading the Golden Sledgehammer by 6+ ft over Michael Morse

Bob
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Bob
2 years 3 months ago

I though Ben Revere’s would have been the softest HR, oh well.

Yinka Double Dare
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Yinka Double Dare
2 years 3 months ago

I’m still amazed that he and Leury Garcia managed to hit HRs about a week apart. Garcia’s went out to dead center at Dodger Stadium at night! Mind: blown.

atoms
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atoms
2 years 3 months ago

I’m mildly surprised not to see George Springer’s recent homer off David Price that hit the catwalk at Tropicana Field. That looked like a rocket of a home run, hit high and far.

Blootzkloof
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Blootzkloof
2 years 3 months ago

It was 446 feet and had a 115 mph speed off the bat. Im thinking if it didnt hit the catwalk it would have been in the upper deck

atoms
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atoms
2 years 3 months ago

Yeah, it looked like it would’ve *easily* been 500+ feet if it hadn’t hit the catwalk.

Kirk Gibson
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Kirk Gibson
2 years 3 months ago

George Springer doesn’t have enough grit.

a eskpert
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a eskpert
2 years 3 months ago

HRD of 4.49 so up there, but not the best. http://stealofhome.wordpress.com/

atoms
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atoms
2 years 3 months ago

Again though, the distance component of the calculation is affected by the ball hitting the catwalk, right?

Grant
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Grant
2 years 3 months ago

watched this live on TV as I was talking on the phone to my brother and I literally said “holy ****” out loud mid-conversation as soon as he made contact.

jim S.
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jim S.
2 years 3 months ago

Nice writing there Augie. You have a future.

ReuschelCakes
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ReuschelCakes
2 years 3 months ago

Great article – love it.

Correction, though: I think you have your elevation angle understanding on backward. It should be: “the angle above horizontal at which the ball left the bat, in degrees. Typically between 25 and 45 degrees for home runs.”

Therefore, the difference between the apex and angle are the speed, wind and other factors… notice that Martin’s dinger was hit at 117.7 mph and Donaldson’s at 110.5.

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/glossary.php

Justin Bailey
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Justin Bailey
2 years 3 months ago

I like the reference to accidentally spitting on yourself, that definitely happened to me a few times in Little League.

Chuck
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Chuck
2 years 3 months ago

I read this article certain that it was Jeff Sullivan who wrote it, only to see that someone named “August Fagerstrom” wrote it. I then saw that this person covers the Akron RubberDucks, and decided it must be a joke of some kind. But it turns out that the RubberDucks are a real live team. I’m so confused.

Aaron
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Aaron
2 years 3 months ago

I wonder what the most pitcher aided home-run is; meaning a pitcher threw the ball so hard that the hitter did not have to put much of a swing on it to get a HR.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 3 months ago

Lucas Duda just came REAL close to the most OPPO (LHH).

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 3 months ago

Hi, I’m watching a Mets game.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 3 months ago

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m right about this Lucas Duda/ Juan Francisco scandal.

vs.

Please edit the article or the entire thing is a sham.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 3 months ago

cough
______

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m right about this Lucas Duda/ Juan Francisco scandal.

http://hittrackeronline.com/hrdetail.php?id=2014_2115

vs.

http://hittrackeronline.com/hrdetail.php?id=2014_1973

Please edit the article or the entire thing is a sham.

Gavin
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Gavin
2 years 3 months ago

Sorry if I missed this, but how low was Stanton’s oppo laser? Seems like that didn’t get very high off the ground, either.

Miles
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Miles
2 years 3 months ago

“Because if I didn’t start this off with Giancarlo what am I even doing here.”

August understands the true meaning of major league baseball: Dingers. (as opposed to horrifying (or statistical) truths)

Charles Sumner Back From The Dead (Or So Believed)
Guest
Charles Sumner Back From The Dead (Or So Believed)
2 years 3 months ago

Sir, I believe your second and third parentheses should be brackets, sir.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 3 months ago

Myers was so confused on that Gordon homer. The wind didn’t just aid it, it must have whipped it around in a few loops before pushing it over the fence.

Speaking of Gordon, I think you should have included Dee Gordon’s homer off Max Scherzer as the most “Dee Gordon homer off Max Scherzer” homer of the first half of 2014.

everdiso
Member
everdiso
2 years 3 months ago

Instead of “least uppercut” maybe go with “most level”.

ReuschelCakes
Guest
ReuschelCakes
2 years 3 months ago

or just eliminate the concept that angle is measuring the swing plane, as it is wrong…

Nauj
Guest
Nauj
2 years 3 months ago

Didn’t Pence have one this year where the pitch was about eye level and the bat ended at a lower point than where he hit the ball? The swing was akin to a downward facing parabola. Or swinging an axe.

brauh
Guest
brauh
2 years 3 months ago

HR gifs are pretty useless when you can’t see the ball.

Grumpy Old Kirk Gibson
Member
Grumpy Old Kirk Gibson
2 years 3 months ago

Hunter Pence hit a monster homer earlier this month verses my D-Backs. Seriously, one of the biggest homers I’ve ever seen hit at Chase Field. It landed in the left field upper deck. But of course we the D-Backs refuse to announce the estimated distance of the visiting team’s homers, because you know, we are just that petty.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
2 years 3 months ago

It appears Mike Trout was upset not being #1 in something, as he hit a 489 foot bomb yesterday.

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