Over the weekend, Mike Petriello of MLB.com used Statcast data to compile the most extreme home runs hit league-wide in 2018. Who hit the highest pitch for a home run? The lowest? Fastest? Slowest? It was a fun way of looking at that part of the dinger data and I thought it would be even more fun by way of being more aggravating to apply the same scope to the few home runs hit by the Giants in 2018.
So, this won’t be just about the fastest pitch hit out this season, but all the other kinds mentioned above. Still... now’s a good time for you to guess which player hit the fastest pitch for a home run this past season. 19 players hit a home run for the Giants. The odds are not stacked against you, and I’ll give you two clues:
1) he had more than 250 plate appearances.
2) It was not Nick Hundley.
Oh, and before I jump into the other categories, just want to give a quick shout out to Mike Petriello (who’s definitely not reading this) to say thank you for the great article idea that I am absolutely vulturing for a Monday morning.
Anyway, here are some of the quirkier shots swatted by a Giant in 2018...
By virtue of my ignorance, I’m going to present to you two choices here for the highest pitch hit for a home run by the Giants this season. Statcast divvies up the strike zone into discrete zones —
(reminder: this is from the catcher’s perspective, so, 23-26-29 are extremely away from right-handed batters) — and so this was the starting point of my search. Then it was just setting the Plate Z (pz) metric search to between 3 and 5 to get proper results. I got this:
More like Longgone-ia. Yeah I just did that. It works, though! It came on a 93.5 mph fastball, which was not the fastest pitch hit for a home run by a Giant this season. Longoria’s bat met that ball in Zone 11, making it the highest pitch hit for a home run by a Giant this season at 3.83 feet above the ground.
Statcast split out one clear winner: this bomb off of Aramis Garcia’s bat on September 26th:
It felt like these types of home runs used to happen once or twice a season. Given that the Giants are one of the worst home run hitting teams in baseball history, that it happened at all this season is a minor miracle.
But enough of my complaining. This was the fourth-lowest pitch hit for a home run in 2018. Petriello’s main article featured Cleveland’s Yan Gomes hitting a home run off of Boston’s Tyler Thornburg on a pitch 0.98 feet off the ground. Garcia’s here is 4th at 1.02 feet. Gomes had the first and third-lowest pitches (his second was 1.01 feet above the ground). Mookie Betts was 2nd with a shot off a pitch just 0.99 feet off the ground.
Evan Longoria hit this 69 mph curveball from Zack Greinke 387 feet:
As Petriello points out, the slowest pitch thrown by a pitcher that was hit for a home run in 2018 was a 65.4 mph knuckleball from Steven Wright to Nelson Cruz. Filtering out the knuckleballs and position player pitches hit over the wall, however, gave Yuli Gurriel the winning home run off a 68 mph James Shields curveball.
Longoria’s, then, was easily a top-5 slowest pitch hit for a home run this season.It was also the first sub-70 mph pitch a Giant hit for a home run since Buster Posey took Eric Stults deep on April 29, 2014. Here’s what that one looked like:
Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Do you think you guessed the winner?
(knows you just scrolled to the bottom of the article to see who it was...)
In addition to being the Giants’ best hitter and person on the 2018 team, Andrew McCutchen hit the fastest pitch out of the park. Stephen Strasburg provided the power with a 97.4 mph fastball.
A quick review of these four shots tells us a little something about the Giants: their veteran power hitter (Longoria) still has professional hitting ability, hitting two tough pitches very easily and with lots of power; their former best hitter with the fastest hands really showed it off; their small sample size rookie of the year candidate made a meal of a mostly bad pitch.
Statcast doesn’t always have to reveal something we’d never noticed before — sometimes, it can just remind us of what we already know but had forgotten for reasons.