Statcast's most extreme home runs of 2017

November 25th, 2017

There were a record-smashing 6,105 home runs during the 2017 Major League Baseball season, an historic year that saw everyone from to Scooter Gennett setting long-ball marks. While an overwhelming majority of the 6,105 were relatively "typical" home runs, when you have that many, you know some are going to be outliers and some are going to be extreme. Just as we did last year, it's worth the time to check out some of this past season's wildest long balls.

In fact, there were so many interesting home runs that we're going to break this up into two pieces. Today, we'll focus on the hitters -- the longest distance, the lowest launch angle, the fastest trot, etc.Part 2 will be all about the pitches themselves -- the highest, the fastest, etc.

LONGEST DISTANCE: 495 feet, , June 11

With this being the year of Judge in so many ways, it would have felt so wrong if any other player had come out of 2017 with the season's longest home run. The Yankees slugger tied a 2015 blast for the second-longest Statcast™ has tracked, behind a 504-foot monster hit by Stanton at Coors Field in 2016.

The Yanks' broadcast attempted to describe the ball's landing spot, but had to admit defeat. "I don't even have a word for it, because I've never even looked that far," said Paul O'Neill.

Listen, we could provide you with a ton of numbers about this one -- how it was hit at 118.6 mph (harder than 99.1 percent of homers hit in 2017) or at a nearly perfect for homers 28-degree launch angle. But nothing is going to get the point across better than the reactions of teammates Didi Gregorius and . These are men who have seen thousands of homers during their lives. They had never seen one like this.

Gif: Didi's excited

SHORTEST DISTANCE: 302 feet, , July 29

In theory, there's no limit to the longest home run a player can hit, other than those set by the laws of physics. But when it comes to the shortest home run, there's very much a limit. The walls are where they are, and that means there's a minimum distance required to get the ball out of the park.

Given some of the unusual dimensions of parks throughout the years (think of the mere 258 feet of the right-field line at the Polo Grounds), Cain's 302-foot tater in July isn't the shortest over-the-wall home run in history. It is the shortest Statcast™ has measured in its three years, however, and it's hard to see that record falling any time soon.

Fenway Park's "Pesky Pole" is, of course, the primary reason Cain's ball left the yard. It was the kind of indifferently hit ball -- 90.4 mph, 39-degree launch angle -- that's an out pretty much all the time (No, seriously; it had a 2 percent Hit Probability).

It was the kind of home run that added three earned runs to 's ledger and, understandably, elicited a look from the Boston lefty that ranged between shock and disgust.

It's not difficult to see why. Of the thousands of times that same type of ball has been hit, it's been an out just about every single time ... except when it's not.



HARDEST-HIT: 121.1 mph, Aaron Judge, June 10

One day before Judge hit 2017's longest home run, he belted 2017's hardest-hit home run. It was a good weekend, at least if you weren't an Orioles pitcher. This one, measured at 121.1 mph, was the second-hardest-hit ball of the year (Stanton had a 122.2-mph single), and it was also the hardest-hit home run we've seen in three seasons of Statcast™. Chris Tillman's changeup came in at just 84.5 mph, and Judge added more than 36 mph to it on its way out of the park.

SOFTEST-HIT: 88.3 mph, , May 24

It's good to hit the ball hard, obviously. The Major Leagues hit .558 when the exit velocity was 95 mph or higher, which is where we set the breakpoint for a "hard-hit ball." Looking just at homers, hitting the ball hard is almost a necessity -- 96.3 percent of homers in 2017 were hit at 95 mph or harder. And 99.8 percent were hit at 90 mph or harder. Just 10 were hit at 90 mph or below, none softer than this one Bregman hit in May.

did his job, basically inducing a fly ball with a low 7 percent Hit Probability. It didn't matter. Bregman was able to float it out to left, with a projected distance of just 348 feet.

You'll note that this ball barely made it into the welcoming arms of the Crawford Boxes in left field, and that's going to be a recurring theme. Of those 10 sub-90-mph homers, four came in Houston (three to left field). Speaking of which ...

HIGHEST LAUNCH ANGLE: 48 degrees, , Oct. 29

That's right, even in Game 5 of the World Series, after more than six months of baseball, we were still seeing unexpected home runs -- like Correa's absolute moonshot off . To put 48 degrees into some context, realize that the average home run is hit at 28 degrees, and 93 percent of dingers are hit between 20 degrees and 40 degrees. But 48? We start calling balls popups at 50 degrees. Popups aren't homers, and they're not even hits. They're outs.

This ball, of course, was primarily a home run because it was hit in Houston, again to the Crawford Boxes. At a projected 328 feet, it was itself one of the five shortest over-the-wall homers of 2017 -- so this isn't dissimilar to Cain's Fenway homer.

LOWEST LAUNCH ANGLE: 15 degrees, Aaron Judge, June 28

At the other end of the spectrum ... well, yes, of course it's Judge. When you hit the ball as hard as he does, you can get away with hitting the ball this low. Out of all of 2017's 6,105 home runs, fewer than 5 percent were hit at a launch angle of 20 degrees or under -- and the ones that were homers averaged 108.2 mph. Above 20 degrees, the average was still an impressive but lower 102.9 mph. If there were a single home run that met the textbook definition for "frozen rope," this one would be it.

FASTEST "TROT": 13.85 sec, , Aug. 18

Other than Judge, there might not be a player better built for the skills Statcast™ can measure than Buxton, who took the crown for "Baseball's Fastest Man" when we introduced Sprint Speed in June, with his 30.2 feet/second barely edging . On this inside-the-parker, he showcased all of that speed and then some, breaking his own record (previously at 14.05 seconds) by getting home to home in just 13.85 seconds.

This ball was hit high enough, 90 feet in the air, and long enough, with a projected distance of 403 feet, that by the time it even hit the ground, Buxton was already 33 feet past first base on his way to second. When center fielder A.J. Pollock finally got to the ball, Buxton was 33 feet past second base. By the time second baseman received the cutoff throw, he had no prayer: He was 196 feet from home, while Buxton was just 84 feet away.

SLOWEST TROT: 157 seconds, Yuli Gurriel, July 22

One hundred and ... what? The 2017 average home run trot time was 22.7 seconds. Among those who hit at least 10 home runs, the highest average time, aside from Gurriel, was a tie between and at 27.5 seconds. So how in the world did we get a time that was north of 2 1/2 minutes?

The reason: Because baseball, as always, can be weird. In this case, it was because Gurriel hit a Tillman slider a projected 350 feet to right field, where it hit the top of the scoreboard and bounced back -- or so it seemed. Gurriel glided into second in a perfectly reasonable 9.2 seconds ... and there he'd remain for the next 130 seconds until it was determined the ball had actually been a home run.

What does a 157-second trot look like? Mostly like this:



LOWEST HIT PROBABILITY: 1 percent, , Aug. 17

This may have been 2017's most unlikely home run, largely because it was one of the season's least likely hits. For every batted ball, you can look at the combination of exit velocity and launch angle to get a Hit Probability, which is the usual outcome of that ball across baseball.

So when Gyorko hit his fly ball at 95 mph and at a high 45-degree launch angle, that ball becomes a hit just 1 percent of the time. As you can see, that type of batted ball is overwhelmingly an easy fly ball ... except, of course, in this one very specific instance.

Since Gyorko's ball was pulled right down the line -- and because the left-field fence at PNC Park is a very short 325 feet away -- a ball that is otherwise an easy out to left fielder was in this case just inches beyond his grasp. allowed an easy fly out. He also allowed a home run. Baseball is so unfair.