Bryant's huge homer ties Cubs' rookie mark
With 495-foot blast, third baseman equals single-season RBI record with 86
CHICAGO -- Had it not bounced off the scoreboard, Kris Bryant's home run to left-center field might still be traveling. His own teammates said so after the Cubs' 6-4 win over the D-backs on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The rookie's 23rd home run of the year, an 0-2 pitch off starter Rubby De La Rosa in the fifth inning, was projected by Statcast™ to travel 495 feet from home plate, the longest home run in Major League Baseball this season. The previous longest was by the Nationals' Michael Taylor (493 feet), and the longest non-Coors Field homer belonged to the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop (485 feet).
"I don't know if I've seen it [hit so far], to be honest. He hit that ball pretty good. Pretty strong, right?" said catcher Miguel Montero, who hit a go-ahead grand slam in the following inning. "Good thing the board was there, otherwise it would still be flying."
Added manager Joe Maddon. "I thought when he hit it that might be the longest home run all year, and there it was. I think 495 [feet] is a misconception. ... It has to be farther than that. That thing was absolutely annihilated."
And starter Kyle Hendricks: "That was a bomb. I think it was out even without the wind. We just watched it. It was kind of quiet for a little bit. Just took it in and watched it."
Arizona left fielder David Peralta followed similar suit, not moving as Bryant's ball flew overhead. Bryant noted he wasn't trying for power, though, since he had hoped to make contact. The blast tied the game at 1 and was the Cubs' first hit of the day.
"As baseball players, you just want to get a hit every time," Bryant said. "When you have two strikes, you kind of shorten up and try to put it in play, so that's all I was trying to do there."
The sheer power might have overshadowed Bryant's equally impressive historic feat. The home run gave the 23-year old his 86th RBI, tying him with Billy Williams and Geovany Soto for the most by a rookie during a single season in club history. The long ball equaled Soto's rookie mark in a single season during the 2008 campaign, and is just two shy of Williams' all-time rookie record set in 1961.
But that feat never occurred to Bryant until his teammates and coaches congratulated him in the dugout. Even then, with the accomplishment flashed on the scoreboard, Bryant still thought he was being congratulated for the distance on his homer.
"It's cool. To be mentioned in the same sentence is not a goal of mine at all, but definitely a huge honor," Bryant said.
The third baseman isn't sure if it's the farthest he's hit a ball since his college days, but he did know that it wouldn't have happened without several minor adjustments made in his swing with the help of hitting coach John Mallee.
Bryant couldn't pinpoint the biggest area of growth since he slumped in July, but it's paying off as Chicago stays in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot.
"With him, the adjustment that he's made is totally night and day," Maddon said. "Give the kid a lot of credit for being open-minded to the whole moment. He was open-minded, he was seeking their advice, there was a simple plan enacted. That's the difference."