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This slugger is crushing MLB's hardest homers

@_dadler
May 16, 2019

Gary Sanchez isn't just hitting home runs this season. He's hitting monster home runs. Did you see his homer against the Orioles on Wednesday? It was 114.9 mph off the bat and cleared the bullpen in right-center field at Yankee Stadium, traveling a projected 443 feet. There aren't a whole

Gary Sanchez isn't just hitting home runs this season. He's hitting monster home runs.

Did you see his homer against the Orioles on Wednesday? It was 114.9 mph off the bat and cleared the bullpen in right-center field at Yankee Stadium, traveling a projected 443 feet. There aren't a whole lot of right-handed hitters who can crush a ball that far the other way.

A whole lot of Sanchez's 12 homers in his resurgent 2019 have looked like that. He's just laying into baseballs at a time when the Yankees most need him to. The Bronx Bombers have three of the hardest-hitting players in the world -- Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton -- but Sanchez is the only one currently on the field.

And he's hitting the hardest home runs in baseball.

Highest avg. HR exit velocity, 2019
Min. 5 HR (143 hitters)
1) Gary Sanchez (NYY): 111.4 mph
2) Joey Gallo (TEX): 110.0 mph
3) C.J. Cron (MIN): 109.7 mph
4) Pete Alonso (NYM): 109.5 mph
5) Avisail Garcia (TB): 109.2 mph

Sanchez's average home run this season is over 110 mph. That's the extreme end of exit velocity. Only 10 percent of home runs league-wide this season have been hit 110-plus mph, and the average MLB home run this season has been hit 104.2 mph.

Eight of Sanchez's 12 home runs in 2019, meanwhile, have broken that 110 mph threshold, with Wednesday's the latest. That's two more than any other hitter this season -- Gallo, Alonso, George Springer and Josh Bell are tied for next-most with six each.

And Sanchez now has three of the Top 10 hardest-hit homers of the MLB season so far. He shares the No. 1 spot with Alonso -- Sanchez hit one 118.3 mph on May 3 against the Twins, the hardest of his career, equaling Alonso's from April 11 and making Sanchez one of just four hitters, along with teammates Judge and Stanton and Alonso, to hit a 118-plus mph home run since Statcast started tracking exit velocity in 2015.

Wednesday's 114.9 mph homer is tied for the seventh-hardest this year, and Sanchez's 114.7 mph homer on May 4 is tied for ninth-hardest.

Sanchez has steadily increased his home run exit velocity over his career, and risen up the league leaderboards accordingly. (Even though he slumped in 2018, when he got a hold of one, he really got a hold of it.) His 2019 homers are his hardest yet.

Sanchez's avg. HR exit velocity by season
2016: 105.4 mph (T-33rd in MLB) | 111.5 mph max
2017: 107.3 mph (5th in MLB) | 115.1 mph max
2018: 108.7 mph (1st in MLB) | 114.8 mph max
2019: 111.4 mph (1st in MLB) | 118.3 mph max

Only two hitters with double-digit home runs in a season under Statcast tracking have averaged 110-plus mph on those homers. No surprise who those were: Judge (110.0 mph in his Rookie of the Year 2017) and Stanton (110.5 mph in 2015 with the Marlins).

Sanchez's eight home runs hit 110 mph or harder are already only two off his high for a single season. He hit 10 homers 110-plus mph in 2018, nine in '17 and two in '16.

He's hitting them far, too. Sanchez's average home run distance of 418 feet is the highest of his career. Six of his 12 homers have gone at least 425 feet, second-most in MLB to Gallo's eight. That 50-percent rate of 425-footers would be Sanchez's highest in a season; a third of his homers were that long in 2018, 43 percent in '17 and 15 percent in '16.

If he keeps this up, and the Yankees get Judge and Stanton back healthy later in the season, baseballs will be flying out of Yankee Stadium like nowhere else.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.