DENVER -- Ender Inciarte has not suddenly evolved into some kind of legitimate power threat. But as the Braves' National League Gold Glove center fielder has matured offensively, he has enhanced his fly ball percentage and displayed his home run trot much more frequently than ever envisioned.Inciarte enjoyed another rarity
DENVER -- Ender Inciarte has not suddenly evolved into some kind of legitimate power threat. But as the Braves' National League Gold Glove center fielder has matured offensively, he has enhanced his fly ball percentage and displayed his home run trot much more frequently than ever envisioned.
Inciarte enjoyed another rarity at Coors Field on Thursday afternoon as he notched his third career multi-homer game and second of the season while helping the Braves cruise toward a 10-4 win over the Rockies. The veteran outfielder accomplished the feat in impressive fashion, as he recorded his two longest home runs since Statcast™ tracking began in 2015.
"My job is always going to be to get on base, but if [the homers] can come, why not?" Inciarte said. "It's going to happen every once in a while, but I know what my job is. I'm going to try to keep getting on base -- stealing bases and score some runs."
By the time he bid adieu to this impressive performance, Inciarte stood with Howard Johnson (July 11, 1987) as the only players in Major League history to record two homers, two stolen bases and two walks in a game. He became the first Braves player since Rafael Furcal in 2005 to notch two homers and two stolen bases in a game.
Inciarte opened his power display by starting off the third inning with a homer that traveled a projected 434 feet into the second deck beyond the right-field wall. It stands as the longest homer he has hit within the past three seasons. He recorded his second-longest homer within that span when he opened the fifth inning by drilling a 429-foot shot over the center-field wall.
"I think he's just not missing pitches," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I don't think he's up there going for homers. He's just putting a good path on the ball and letting it go where it wants."
Inciarte now has 10 homers, which is one more than he totaled over the past two seasons combined. After tallying just three home runs last season, he focused some of his offseason efforts toward making himself a more versatile threat as a leadoff hitter.
When Inciarte batted .291 with a .732 OPS last year, he produced a fly ball with 13.2 percent of the balls he put in play. In his effort to add a little strength to his game this year -- in which he is hitting .300 with a .754 OPS -- he has produced a fly ball with 20.9 percent of the balls he has put in play.
Per Statcast™ data entering Thursday, Inciarte's average exit velocity on fly balls had increased from 85.7 mph in 2016 to 87.1 mph this season.
"In the past, I hit a lot of ground balls," Inciarte said. "This year, I'm just trying to hit the ball harder and it feels good. If I get a pitch up in the zone, I shouldn't try to put it in the dirt. I should just try to drive it and see what happens."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.