SAN FRANCISCO -- When Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas gets hold of a homer, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound slugger can absolutely crush a baseball.It was certainly the case against the Giants in a 3-2 win Saturday, as Vargas smacked a solo homer off Jeff Samardzija that had an exit velocity of
SAN FRANCISCO -- When Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas gets hold of a homer, the 6-foot-5, 290-pound slugger can absolutely crush a baseball.
It was certainly the case against the Giants in a 3-2 win Saturday, as Vargas smacked a solo homer off Jeff Samardzija that had an exit velocity of 116 mph and traveled a projected 471 feet to right-center field at AT&T Park. The homer, hit at a low launch angle of 19 degrees, was both the hardest-hit and longest homer by a Twins player in the Statcast™ era since 2015. It was also the second-longest at AT&T Park since 2015, trailing a 477-foot blast from Ian Desmond in '15.
"That ball, for the distance traveled, didn't have a lot of height," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was as impressive as they get. People like to watch the majestic ones, but true baseball people acknowledge that hitting a line drive that far is tough to do."
The homer was also the third-longest in the Majors this year, trailing the D-backs' Jake Lamb's 481-foot shot and the Astros' George Springer's 473-foot blast. And the 116 mph exit velocity was the fifth-hardest-hit homer of the year, trailing two by the Yankees' Aaron Judge (121.1 mph and 119.4 mph) and two by the Rangers' Joey Gallo (116.3 mph and 116.1 mph).
The previous highs for the Twins in the Statcast™ era were Miguel Sano at 464 feet last year and Vargas with a 114.7 mph exit velocity on May 9.
"I just hit the ball but wasn't sure how far it would go," Vargas said. "But as soon as I hit, I knew it was gone."
The homer came on a 96.9 mph fastball from Samardzija with a 2-2 count, giving the Twins their first run of the game in the fourth inning.
"I saw in my first at-bat he tried to attack with a fastball in," Vargas said. "So I was just ready for that spot. I knew it was going to be a fastball hard, and boom, I was able to get it."
The homer impressed his teammates, as Sano loudly proclaimed in the clubhouse after the game that it was a "bombazo," and fellow Puerto Rican Jose Berrios, who picked up the win, was in awe of how far it traveled.
"That was a huge hit," Berrios said. "Not a lot of balls get hit that way and not a lot of people can hit a ball that way. Whenever you see that, it's pretty good. I think it's just this team, in general. It's just something special going on."
It was the sixth homer of the year for Vargas, who is hitting .250/.270/.490 in 26 games, and was called up for this series with Jorge Polanco on the bereavement list. Vargas is likely to be optioned Monday once Polanco returns, but his power remains tantalizing for the Twins.
"It's a little tricky," Molitor said. "It's tough here with Joe [Mauer] back [at first] tomorrow. He has at-bats where he doesn't look particularly good but then he runs into one."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.