Statcast of the Day: Gray's 467-foot homer

Young pitcher hits longest HR by a Rockies player in 2017

July 6th, 2017

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander 's Sammy Sosa-esque hop out of the batter's box to punctuate his 467-foot home run off Reds starter in the second inning of Wednesday's 5-3 victory made it seem as if he does this stuff all the time.
But Statcast™ data and Gray's history suggest the feat and the distance were quite rare.
"I didn't really realize I did it," Gray said. "I was just trying to figure out what was going on at the time."
Gray's two-run shot off Feldman's 90.4-mph fastball, which gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead, was the longest by a pitcher since Statcast™ began projecting home run distances in 2015, and the longest by a Rockies player this year.
"I don't understand what that was about, but it felt natural," Gray said. "I hadn't felt like that at the plate in a long time."
Having missed 11 weeks with a navicular stress fracture in his left foot, Gray had eight hitless Major League at-bats coming into Wednesday's game. He did not homer in 66 Minor league at-bats and didn't have an at-bat at the University of Oklahoma in 2012 and 2013. His last homer was in 2011, when he was a two-way player for half of the fall schedule of his freshman season at Eastern Oklahoma State College, a two-year school.
"I was kind of amazed, too," Gray said. "I was thinking, 'Touch every base. Don't do something stupid. Get inside and go get the next three guys out.'"

In addition to topping pitchers since 2015 and all Rockies players this year, Statcast™ charted the shot to dead center field as:
• The longest first homer for any player since Statcast™ began its projections.
• The 15th-longest by any player this season.
• At a 104.9-mph exit velocity (with a 26-degree launch angle), Gray's homer was the fourth hardest-hit home run and 22nd hardest-hit ball off Feldman this season. In fact, Feldman's average exit velocity-against of 83.8 mph is the lowest of any MLB pitcher this season.
"He hit it pretty far," Feldman said. "You never want to give up hits, period, to pitchers. I feel like you should get the pitcher out every time. To pretty much lose the game on that, it's not a good feeling. At the same time, I threw the ball right down the middle. You can't really do that."
Gray's homer distance surpassed the 446-footer by the Giants' Jeff Samardzija on June 16, which came off the Rockies' at Coors Field.
"Did Jon pass that?" Rockies manager Bud Black asked during his postgame press conference. "All right. Great."
The ball bounced off the bleachers and down a tunnel leading to the pond that supports the home run fountain. Mike Pontarelli, the Rockies' home clubhouse manager, tried to fish it out, but the water is full of batting-practice balls and not-so-special game home run balls.
"They brought two balls by the bullpen, but they were so waterlogged that they must've weighed about 5 pounds," said reliever Jake McGee, who figured a ball that had taken so much water had been there awhile.
Gray said, "It's gone forever."
Actually, with the video and Statcast™ data, Gray's homer will live.