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
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
“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.
Hardest homer – Giancarlo Stanton
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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