These homers wouldn’t have happened anywhere else

May 19th, 2024

To be or not to be a home run? That’s often the question, and there’s nothing like the anticipation of seeing whether a fly ball or line drive will end up clearing the fence. With dimensions, playing conditions, wall heights and more varying at each Major League stadium, a home run in one park might just be a long, loud out in another.

Statcast home run tracking can determine if any batted ball would be a home run in each of the 30 MLB ballparks. And since that tracking began in 2016, there have been hundreds of homers (including some huge ones in October) that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else.

Here’s your guide to “stadium special” home runs -- their origin, their frequency, their location and much more.

What is a stadium special?
A stadium special is a home run that was projected to leave the yard in only one of 30 parks -- the park in which it was actually hit.

How common are they?
Since 2016, there have been nearly 500 stadium specials across the Majors.

The 2023 season saw 39 such homers. Entering Friday, the 2024 season has seen 11 -- including a game-winning two-run shot by the Rays’ on April 24.

Have they happened in every park?
Five MLB parks have yet to witness a stadium special: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City; Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas; Chase Field in Phoenix; Coors Field in Denver; and loanDepot park in Miami. There has been at least one in the other 25 active parks.

Where do they happen most?
As might be expected, these homers are most common at parks with notable short porches, low fences or other conditions favorable to shorter home runs. Yankee Stadium has seen the most with 143, almost all of which were hit to right field or right-center. Wrigley Field is next with 98 stadium specials, and Minute Maid Park -- home to the Crawford Boxes -- is third with 75.

Where do they happen least?
Besides the five parks with no stadium specials, two Central Division venues have seen only one since Statcast home run tracking began. On Sept. 16, 2017, former Twins outfielder hit the first (and only) such homer at Target Field in Minnesota.

Exactly 10 days later, the Cubs’ hit the only one at Busch Stadium against the rival Cardinals.

To which part of the park are they usually hit?
It obviously depends on the venue: Most of the 14 stadium specials hit at Petco Park, for example, just cleared the center-field wall -- this 119.6 mph laser by the Padres' over the low left-field fence was a notable exception.

Overall, these homers are fairly evenly distributed, with more from left-center to right-center than to straightaway left or right field.

Distribution of stadium special home runs, 2016-2024
Left field: 66 (13.6%)
Left-center: 111 (22.9%)
Center: 120 (24.7%)
Right-center: 111 (22.9%)
Right: 77 (15.9%)

Certain parks possess an edge when it comes to specific landing spots for stadium specials. Tropicana Field has seen five of the seven closest to the left-field foul pole, while Minute Maid and Wrigley dominate left and left-center, respectively. Angel Stadium leads the way in homers just to the right of dead center field, while no park comes close to Yankee Stadium when it comes to specials hit to right or right-center.

Only two of the many specials in the Bronx have been hit to left field, including this Aaron Hicks solo shot back in 2016. Down the right-field line, the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park comes into play. Fenway has seen five stadium specials just inside the foul pole in right.

Have they happened in the postseason? What about the World Series?
There have been 19 stadium specials in the postseason since 2016. Of those, three came in the Wild Card round, four in the Division Series and nine in the Championship Series. The other three came in the World Series, although the Fall Classic hasn’t seen one since 2017. In Game 2 of that year’s World Series, tied the game and broke up ’s no-hitter on a ball that would have stayed in every park but Dodger Stadium.

The instant-classic 2016 World Series featured the other two, which were both hit at Wrigley Field. Of the two, ’s solo shot to left-center in the fourth inning of a do-or-die Game 5 was crucial. The homer helped the Cubs pull off a 3-2 win and keep the series alive, and everyone knows what happened next.

The most recent playoff special on record came in Game 3 of the 2022 ALCS, which featured the Astros and Yankees. ’s 335-foot liner to right field would have left the yard in just one park -- Yankee Stadium, where it was a two-run homer to put Houston up 2-0 early in a 5-0 win.

The year before, effectively put a trip to the World Series on ice with a three-run shot late in Game 6 of the 2021 ALCS. The 357-foot opposite-field drive found the front row of the Crawford Boxes to increase the Astros’ lead to 5-0.

Have there been walk-offs?

Yes, but not very many. There have only been three walk-off homers that would have stayed in the yard at other parks, including Kyle Schwarber’s oppo shot into the basket in 2019 at Wrigley and Didi Gregorius’ two-run shot to right field in 2016 at Yankee Stadium.

In June 2018, finally put an end to a 13-inning contest against the Rockies with a Great American Ball Park special to right-center.

Stadium specials have been less likely to be of the walk-off variety, although not by too much. Across MLB since 2016, just 1.2% of homers have been walk-off shots. Among stadium specials, that rate is 0.6%.

Which player has the most?
It takes the perfect storm to rack up these homers: a power bat, a favorable home park and -- let’s face it -- a little luck.

Two veteran infielders have mastered the art during their careers, tying for first place with 10 stadium specials apiece: the Yankees’ and the Astros’ . (Yankees outfielder is right behind them with nine so far, while Houston’s has eight.)

LeMahieu’s most memorable one came in Game 5 of the 2019 ALCS, when he led off the bottom of the first inning with a tying solo shot off Verlander to the short porch in right-center at Yankee Stadium.

Bregman’s résumé doesn’t include any postseason specials, but the Astros third baseman has still hit some big ones. On June 3, 2023, for instance, he just cleared the wall in left to give the Astros some breathing room against the Angels with a grand slam.

Outfielder , who retired after the 2023 season, is the only player with exactly one stadium special in FOUR different parks: Angel Stadium, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park. Nine other players have had exactly one in three different parks: Rosario, McCormick, Machado, Ozzie Albies, Curtis Granderson, Francisco Lindor, Renato Núñez, Rougned Odor and Stephen Piscotty.