Hitters working to raise launch angles has been a theme across baseball since Statcast™ debuted in the 2015 season. Of course, a higher launch angle is only beneficial to a certain point; if the angle is too steep, the result is typically a flyout or popup.Shortstop Carlos Correa defied those
Hitters working to raise launch angles has been a theme across baseball since Statcast™ debuted in the 2015 season. Of course, a higher launch angle is only beneficial to a certain point; if the angle is too steep, the result is typically a flyout or popup.
Shortstop Carlos Correa defied those odds Sunday night in Game 5 of the World Series -- with some help from Minute Maid Park's unique dimensions. The result was the highest home run of 2017, in terms of launch angle, and one of the Astros' five homers during a wild 13-12, 10-inning victory over the Dodgers, which gave Houston a 3-2 Series advantage.
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In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Astros had already rallied from an 8-7 deficit to grab a 9-8 lead when Correa stepped to the plate against Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow, with Jose Altuve on second base and no outs. After a wild pitch moved Altuve to third, Morrow tried to throw a 1-0 sinker down and in, but he missed up with the 96.1 mph heater.
Correa turned on the pitch and lifted what initially looked like a routine fly ball to left field. However, few fly balls to left are routine at Minute Maid Park, where the Crawford Boxes loom 315 feet away, down the line. Sure enough, Los Angeles left fielder Joc Pederson drifted back, but soon ran out of room, as the 105.8 mph drive dropped into the seats, a couple of rows back.
The two-run shot, which had a projected hang time of 6.8 seconds, reached a height of 169 feet and traveled a projected distance of just 328 feet.
The ball's 48-degree launch angle was the highest of any home run in 2017, including the regular season and postseason. It was just the fifth big fly of 48 degrees or higher tracked in three seasons of Statcast™, and the first since Mark Teixeira's 48-degree moonshot for the Yankees on July 3, 2016. J.D. Martinez holds the Statcast™ record for highest homer, at 50 degrees, hit on May 15, 2015, for the Tigers.
It was a good break for Houston, considering the ball's 11 percent hit probability, based on exit velocity and launch angle. Of the 6,206 homers hit this year, including the postseason, this was just the 126th (2 percent) to be hit at 40 degrees or higher and the 12th (0.2 percent) to be hit at 45 degrees or higher.
It wasn't the Astros' most majestic roundtripper of the night -- certainly not compared to George Springer's 111.9 mph, 448-foot blast earlier in the seventh inning. But, hit to the right part of the right ballpark, it got the job done.
Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.