Today in Yasiel Puig Being Really Great

Lately, Yasiel Puig has been in one of his slumps. For really the first time in his professional career, he’s been the target of a lot of criticism, some of it warranted and some of it over the top. Most significantly, he’s had some struggles at the plate, with his aggressive approach backfiring. Thursday afternoon, the Marlins pitched to him accordingly. The first four times Puig stepped up to the plate, he saw a first-pitch slider. The fifth time he did get a sinker, but by that point it was 6-0 in the ninth so for all I know the plan was ignored.

The first time Puig got a first-pitch slider, he popped it up. The third time he got a first-pitch slider, he fouled it off. The fourth time he got a first-pitch slider, he swung right through it. But the second time he got a first-pitch slider, he beat the living crap out of it. All four times, Puig swung at the slider. One of those times, he gave the ball a ride, or a punishment, depending on how you feel about balls and what they enjoy. There was something remarkable about that ball in play. Something potentially remarkable, at least.

Here’s how it reads in the Gameday window. Leading off the top of the fourth:

Yasiel Puig doubles (17) on a sharp fly ball to center fielder Justin Ruggiano. None out.

That description is accurate, but it also manages to undersell the quality of the contact. Buster Olney and I were both watching, and Buster Olney and I both had the same thought:

I just made the mistake of glancing at some of Olney’s mentions. Never glance at a famous person’s mentions. It seems a lot of people didn’t much care for Olney’s remark and idea, but I knew I was interested, not that I can take this to any great lengths. Let’s take a visual look at what took place:


Now let’s take a much clearer visual look at what took place:


Pause that:


Enhance that:


That is a double, off the very very top of the wall, in very very center field. Already, this is a deep center field, and it comes with a bonus high fence, so you could forgive Puig for assuming he hit a dinger when the ball came off the bat:


In an ideal world, maybe, hitters would sprint every time until it was clear the ball was gone. But, walk out the door with an open jar. Close the jar, real tight, and send it to a lab to test for the air quality. We don’t live in an ideal world, and hitters jog when they think they hit home runs, and Puig had almost every reason to figure he’d gone deep. He’s not the first batter to be tricked by the tricksy Marlins Park.

One does wonder: is this the longest non-homer of the season? One’s investigation is then immediately limited by not having enough information, but Olney came through with another interesting fact to follow up:

What we can’t really speak to is whether there have been longer non-homers. While people might possess that information, it isn’t publicly available, and the Gameday data shows only where a ball was fielded, not where it landed. What we can reasonably conclude is that this is at least among the longest non-homers, and quite possibly the very longest for 2013. Let’s say that 436-foot estimate is accurate enough. Through Wednesday, this season there had been 3,676 home runs. Of those — according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker — 3,492 measured less than or equal to 435 feet. That’s 95%, in other words. Yasiel Puig hit a double longer than 19 of every 20 home runs.

We can mess around with numbers and hypotheticals. Where might it be possible to hit the longest non-homer in baseball? Below, some candidate ballparks, at which I arrived after spending too much time doing research:

  • Minute Maid Park. It’s 436 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is ten feet high. It’s not ten feet above Tal’s Hill in center — the hill simply climbs the wall at an angle.
  • Fenway Park. It’s 420 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is 17 feet high.
  • AT&T Park. It’s 421 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is 24 or 25 feet high.
  • Comerica Park. It’s unofficially 430 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is unofficially 12 feet high.
  • Marlins Park. It’s 422 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is 16 feet high.
  • Chase Field. It’s 413 feet to the deepest point, and the wall is 20 feet high. Or, the wall is higher, but there exists a yellow line, serving as a border.

Nobody so far this season has sent a ball off the wall in straightaway center in Houston. A few batters have come close, but those balls in play would’ve fallen short of a 436-foot estimate. This isn’t something I can really pursue any further, but it’s at least entertaining to think about. Because of Houston, there exists the possibility of a non-homer that would have a calculated distance over 440 feet. Actually, because of Houston’s flagpole, there exists the possibility of a non-homer much much longer than that. If a ball hits the flagpole and bounces back, it’s considered in play. From a 2003 Brewers/Astros recap:

Richie Sexson hit a ball high off the flagpole in center field with leading off the fourth inning to drive in Geoff Jenkins and tie it at 1-1. The ball was headed out of the park, but the flagpole is in play some 420 feet from home plate.

Milwaukee stranded Sexson at third as Vander Wal and Osik struck out around a walk to Helms and Royce Clayton grounded out.

“That’s a tough rule,” Sexson said of being robbed of a home run. “I was thinking the whole game that I wasn’t going to be mad unless we lose by one run. It’s hard enough to hit it out there and then for it not to be a home run … they ought to put a yellow line on the flagpole.”

It was the first time in the four-year history of Minute Maid Park that a ball hit the pole on a fly.

So that’s the answer. The longest potential non-homer in baseball would be off the flagpole in Houston’s center field. Nobody’s done that in 2013, and in 2013, the longest non-homer in baseball might now be Puig’s double to center in Miami. I can’t confirm it, but I have a good feeling.

So what? Yeah, I guess. A long double is a long double, and a short homer is a short homer. Puig, ultimately, had to stop at second base. But if people are going to go through the Home Run Tracker and note the hitters who’ve had “lucky” home runs, it stands to reason one would want to consider unlucky non-home runs. Not that we have that information, but batted balls can be different in different ballparks, and in most other stadiums, Puig would’ve added to his dinger total. That’s interesting. Puig, absolutely, deserved a homer based on the quality of contact, but he had to settle for half the bases. Baseball is a quirky sport.

And while the longest non-homer just isn’t a homer, and while it’ll always be less impressive than the longest non-non-homer, there’s something appropriate about the league’s longest non-homer maybe belonging to Yasiel Puig. It’s just another example of him finding an extraordinary way to do something hardly extraordinary at all.

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.

35 Responses to “Today in Yasiel Puig Being Really Great”

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

    Goddamn Willie Mays

    +9 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hurtlocker says:

      455 to the first CF wall, 483 to the middle indent. Mays catch must have been at about the 445 mark.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. EDogg1438 says:

    Has anyone ever hit a homerun over the hill in Houston?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Tim says:

    I’m not really following the ground rules, but is there anything to hit in Tampa? Thinking of David Ortiz’ monster single off a Metrodome speaker in 2006 which might be the longest bip ever, or at least post-Polo-Grouds.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Daniel says:

    Jeff: I am most disappointed in your work in this case. Why is there no .gif of Richie Sexson’s triple off the flagpole?

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. MustBunique says:


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. CaliforniaJag says:

    The part that sucks is that if he HAD sprinted out of the box and been running hard the whole way, we might’ve gotten to see him try to leg out an inside-the-park home run.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • atoms says:

      The part that sucks extra is that just *two days* before he DID hit an actual home run and he DID sprint out of the box (he was at second base already when the ball cleared the fence), and then he saw it went over so he slowed a little.

      If he had done that same sprint out of the box this time, it would have been worth it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      The part that sucks the most is that Puig was pausing to see if he shot was going to do any damage to that monstrosity in left-center.

      Just 20 feet more to the left, and a few feet higher, and Puig would have re-taken the #1 slot in the global folk-hero standings.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Craig says:

    Carlos Gomez caught a ball in Houston pretty far up the hill, if he didn’t catch it, then it would have gone pretty far. Probably 420-430 range.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. JuanPierreDoesSteroids says:

    Makes me wish the Polo Grounds were still around :(

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Bryson says:

    Dave Roberts once caught a ball at the very top of the hill in centerfield at minute maid in Houston to preserve Eric gagne’s save streak in the ninth. That could be the longest out ever, at least in the modern parks. That would be an I retesting bit of info – the longest out ever.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Del B. Vista says:

    I took a tour of Minute Maid Park last year and they said the mark from Sexson’s homer was visible until about a year prior when some boob painted over it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Del B. Vista says:

    I took a tour of Minute Maid Park last year and they said the mark from Sexson’s double was visible until about a year prior when some boob painted over it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Megan says says:

    Balls definitely enjoy a ride.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Carlton Fisk says:

    That’s bull-poo-poo. They should give you a homer if you hit the flagpole.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Mister says:

    What about the very top of the deepest part of the Green Monster at Fenway? I’m not sure what the distance is out there, but the wall is 37 feet high, so I could see a ball with more of a line drive trajectory hitting there and having a pretty long estimated distance.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Leighton says:

    How far did Adam Rosales’ “Double” go in that 4-3 loss to the Indians, May 8?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Urban Shocker says:

    I don’t like my balls being punished.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. channelclemente says:

    I think we can safely say that Puig does not subscribe to the ‘backspin it out of here’ school of hitting. Good.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Greg Rybarczyk says:

    I can confirm that the Ortiz single at Metrodome was headed for the upper deck, and projected at around 440-445 feet. Barry Bonds hit a line drive off the top of 25 foot CF wall at Chase Field a few years back that also ended up as a single but projected to something close to Puig’s distance. Also a Manny Ramirez line drive off the CF end of the Monster a few years back came up at around 429 feet if I recall correctly.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • RobM says:

      Exactly how are you confirming this?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Greg Rybarczyk says:

        OK, maybe “confirm” is the wrong word, since a ball that hits a speaker never gets to complete its trajectory. What I am saying is that I have analyzed the Ortiz homer carefully, and it projected to 440-445 feet.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. JWLumley says:

    Could be wrong, but I believe Harper hit one off the wall to the left of the 418 sign earlier this year. I believe he hit 3 balls that would have been homeruns in most other parks during the series with Miami. Yet another way in which Miami is horrible for baseball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1