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Statcast of the day: Springer's 408-foot out

Minute Maid Park claims highest Hit Probability out of postseason
MLB.com @mike_petriello

Prior to Game 3 of the World Series, when we looked at how the short fences in left and right field at Minute Maid Park often lead to softly-hit home runs, we also pointed out this seemingly incongruous fact: Despite the often hitter-friendly dimensions, the Astros' home park played as an extreme pitcher's park this year. For all the easy homers the park gives to those who take advantage of the lines, it takes away nearly as many with its deeper-than-average (even after the removal of Tal's Hill) center field.

On Friday night, we saw all of the extremes that Minute Maid has to offer in the Astros' 5-3 win over the Dodgers. Justin Turner hit a first-inning ball that's a home run more often than not; it wasn't. Yuli Gurriel hit a seventh-inning ball that had no business being a double; it was. Later in the same inning, with the bases loaded, George Springer absolutely demolished a ball, sending it 408 feet away. It should have been a grand slam. It should have turned the game from a competitive 5-3 to a blowout 9-3. It should have taken the roof off the stadium.

Prior to Game 3 of the World Series, when we looked at how the short fences in left and right field at Minute Maid Park often lead to softly-hit home runs, we also pointed out this seemingly incongruous fact: Despite the often hitter-friendly dimensions, the Astros' home park played as an extreme pitcher's park this year. For all the easy homers the park gives to those who take advantage of the lines, it takes away nearly as many with its deeper-than-average (even after the removal of Tal's Hill) center field.

On Friday night, we saw all of the extremes that Minute Maid has to offer in the Astros' 5-3 win over the Dodgers. Justin Turner hit a first-inning ball that's a home run more often than not; it wasn't. Yuli Gurriel hit a seventh-inning ball that had no business being a double; it was. Later in the same inning, with the bases loaded, George Springer absolutely demolished a ball, sending it 408 feet away. It should have been a grand slam. It should have turned the game from a competitive 5-3 to a blowout 9-3. It should have taken the roof off the stadium.

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It should have been all of that, except it was none of that. Instead, Springer flied out to center fielder Chris Taylor to end the inning and keep the Dodgers' hopes alive. Let it never be said that baseball in Minute Maid is uninteresting.

Let's start with Turner, because the Dodgers had their opportunities -- do remember the bases-loaded, none-out setup in the third that led to only one run -- that they just couldn't cash in, especially early. In the top of the first, before anyone knew that Yu Darvish just wasn't going to have it, Turner stepped up with two out and none on.

Turner took a Lance McCullers Jr. curveball right down the middle, and he crushed it, 102.2 mph off the bat at a 26 degree launch angle, for a projected distance of 402 feet, according to Statcast™.

On batted balls tracked by Statcast™ over the past three seasons with that combination of exit velocity and launch angle, it's a home run 60 percent of the time. It's a hit more than 80 percent of the time. Looking just at the distance, the Majors hit a whopping .957 on balls that travel more than 400 feet. It should have, at the very least, put a man in scoring position.

Tweet from @AndrewSimonMLB: Balls hit like Turner's (102 mph / 26 degrees) have gone for HR about 6 out of 10 times. But he found the deep part of the park. pic.twitter.com/SkXGgRnL7T

Not at Minute Maid Park, not to center, anyway. Springer ran 102 feet in 5.1 seconds to track it down, and instead of the Dodgers having a run on the board, McCullers was out of the inning without a run on the board. Not getting what you've earned, on both sides, is going to be a theme here.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Springer ranges back, snags deep fly ball

Fast forward now to the seventh, with the Astros up 5-3, and Gurriel leading off the inning against Brandon Morrow. Gurriel had homered earlier in the game against Darvish, and he'd actually end up with three rocket shots with over 100 mph exit velocity -- the homer (104.4 mph) and a pair of hard-hit groundouts (107.2, 103.1). But against Morrow, Gurriel didn't make solid contact at all, just 84.9 mph, and it was hit high in the air at 34 degrees. (The average double this year was hit at 97.1 mph and 16 degrees.)

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Gurriel leads off bottom 7th with double

To say that ball should usually be an out is understating it. That ball is always an out, or at least it has been in the three seasons of Statcast™. It's never once become a hit, understandable since it was hit just a projected 318 feet, making it an easy flyout pretty much all the time.

Tweet from @mike_petriello: That Gurriel double was hit at 85 mph / 34 deg.Literally never been a hit before (2015-17). pic.twitter.com/AlNlS1q7ql

Again, not here. Without the short wall, that's a pretty easy play for left fielder Andre Ethier, one that's got a Catch Probability north of 80 percent. But with the Crawford Boxes at just 315 feet away, Ethier had no opportunity to get to a ball that's otherwise an out. Gurriel's fourth-hardest hit ball of the day became his second extra base hit of the day.

Tony Cingrani entered to relieve Morrow, and in facing four hitters he got two outs while allowing a single and an intentional walk, leaving Ross Stripling to come in to face Springer with the bases loaded. Stripling threw two sliders, then two fastballs, the second one a 92.7 mph four-seamer right down the middle of the plate.

Springer didn't miss it, to put it lightly. At 108.2 mph off his bat, it was the fourth hardest-hit ball of the game, but because of the nearly ideal 32-degree launch angle, the projected distance of 408 feet was the longest ball hit all night. Remember when we said, regarding Turner's homer, that the Majors hit .957 on balls hit 400 feet or more? Well, when it's 408 feet or more, it's almost unthinkable at .982. That means a ball that goes that far is a hit nearly every single time. It's extremely difficult to hit a ball that far and not get rewarded.

Except, once again, what the ballpark gave to Gurriel, it took away from Springer. Taylor tracked it down for an out, rescuing Stripling and keeping it close enough for the Dodgers to attempt a comeback. It was just the second time in three years a ball hit at 108 mph with a 32-degree launch angle didn't become a home run; it was the ball with the highest Hit Probability not to turn into a hit this postseason (94 percent). It's very easy to think that Stripling did actually surrender a grand slam, because the fact that it became an out is thanks to the ballpark more than anything.

Tweet from @mike_petriello: There's only been one ball like that (108 / 32) that hasn't turned into a HR, and it was a double off the wall in Miami. pic.twitter.com/2mYA3lpRjG

"I hit it good, but it's just an F8 in the books," Springer said, while Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was slightly more open about how he thought it was going to go.

"A big exhale," Roberts said, "and that's a big, strong kid. And I thought he got just enough if of it. I thought [Turner's] ball he hit in the first inning was gone, too. Yeah, I thought both of those balls were gone. But that was a big out for us."

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Springer, Roberts react to near slam

It sure was, and he was right to think that Turner's ball was going to go out. In many parks, it would have. In many parks, Springer's would have too. None of this is to say the Astros won or the Dodgers lost because of these plays; that's on Darvish, Cody Bellinger and Brad Peacock. It just goes to show what makes baseball unique from the other major sports. The ballpark isn't just a place to play. It's a big part of the game, and few more so than Minute Maid Park.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer, Justin Turner