While it might seem like the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby was just about Giancarlo Stanton crushing baseballs deep into the San Diego skyline with no other participants even around ... well, let's not pretend otherwise. Stanton was the star; we will be talking about his performance basically forever; and
While it might seem like the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby was just about Giancarlo Stanton crushing baseballs deep into the San Diego skyline with no other participants even around ... well, let's not pretend otherwise. Stanton was the star; we will be talking about his performance basically forever; and he'll basically be the only thing anyone will remember about the night.
But as fantastic as Stanton's 61 (!) homers were, there were seven other stars pounding the ball, too, and with Statcast™ at our disposal in Petco Park, the numbers that were compiled were staggering. To start with: the eight sluggers combined for 78,333 feet of home runs, or the equivalent of just under 15 miles. Put together, that's enough distance to get from the stadium into Mexico, and that's not an exaggeration:
Obviously, those are some massive numbers, particularly when Stanton hit as many homers in roughly two hours as Roger Maris did over the entirety of his record-breaking 1961 season. Let's dig into the most interesting ones and add some context.
• Going, going, Gian: Derby star, by far!
Lasers and moonshots
Stanton -- and we promise this will not all be about Stanton -- hit the lowest launch angle homer of the night, at 12.3 degrees. If that sounds low, it is, because zero is right back at a pitcher's release point, and liners hit that low rarely go out. Actually, they never go out, because the lowest homer of the Statcast™ era was 13.5 degrees by Stanton (of course) against the Phillies last April. This one went "only" 381 feet, but it left in a hurry.
An overwhelming majority of the blasts were between 20 and 35 degrees, which is mostly as expected. But the highest shot of the night game from San Diego's own Wil Myers, who managed to get one out at 40.1 degrees. Only 1.6 percent of all homers hit this year were hit that high, and hitting the ball at 40 degrees or higher rarely works out for hitters -- because so many are easy flies or popups, the Majors are hitting just .042 on batted balls hit so high. Myers squeaked it out at 365 feet.
Loud contact and 'just enough'
You're not surprised, or at least you shouldn't be, that Stanton had the hardest-hit homer of the night at 120.4 mph. (It would be the hardest-hit home run of the Statcast™ era, if it happened during regular-season play.) He also had the best average exit velocity, at 111.9 mph, just topping Mark Trumbo's 109.5 mph, and he hit the 21 hardest hit balls of the night all by himself.
Interestingly enough, nine of the homers got out at under 100 mph. That's just under five percent of the total, and that's much less than the 15.7 percent of the time that happens in the regular season. Five of those nine, and the four slowest, were hit by Adam Duvall, giving him an average of 102.2 mph on his homers. His lowest, 94.7 mph, is actually a velocity that's very difficult to get out -- only 2.5 percent of home runs this year have been 94 mph or under. Duvall still managed to get it 377 feet, in part because his angle was near-perfect.
Remember, anyway, that the Home Run Derby serves to deflate a popular myth: Speed in doesn't really equal speed out. Research has shown that the hitter is responsible for about 80 to 85 percent of exit velocity regardless of how fast the pitch comes in, and you'll note no one requests for 95-mph heaters coming their way during the Derby.
The long and short of it
Back to distance, Stanton had the 10 longest home runs and 18 of the 19 longest. We keep trying to say it's not all about Stanton, yet it really was. But we did see a few wall-scrapers, including 342 from Duvall and 347 from Todd Frazier. Now you're wondering how many homers make it out at such low distances, and the answer is not many. Just 3.4 percent of homers this season have been 350 feet or below, and even fewer than that made it out of the park Monday.
Of course, that's to be expected when you're selecting players specifically for their power. These aren't the backup infielders and pop-hitting speedsters you'd see during the season. These are the guys who are here simply because of their power, to the point that the two finalists weren't even All-Stars this year. It's easy to say that this was the most exciting Derby in years, and maybe it was. But remember this: Next year, it's in Miami. You get the feeling this isn't the last we've seen of Stanton putting up insane numbers at a Home Run Derby.
Mike Petriello** is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs.