Two innings after taking a Matt Cain pitch in the back, Colorado’s Matt Holliday took him deep for the longest home run of 2006, a 496 foot home run to left field at Coors Field during a 12-4 win over the visiting San Francisco Giants. Holliday’s blast left the bat at a powerful 116.8 mph and under standard conditions (70 degrees, no wind, sea level) would have traveled 443 feet, a notable but not especially long distance. However, the game was at Coors Field, which is as far from standard conditions as you can get. The wind, temperature and altitude added +6, +1 and +44 feet respectively (note: these numbers are rounded, which is why they don’t add to 496), turning Holliday’s homer into the longest of the year, dethroning Ryan Howard and his 491 foot blast that had stood up for 5 months…
Holliday knocked his previous long homer of the season, a 475 foot shot at Dodger Stadium, out of the top 5, but with 2 of the 6 longest homers of the year, one of which came on the road, Holliday is establishing himself as one of the premier long-distance hitters in the major leagues!
Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder launched a 448 foot blast into the upper deck in right field at RFK Stadium off Pedro Astacio in the 1st inning of an 8-5 Nationals win over the visiting Brewers. This long homer came off Fielder’s bat at 116.0 mph, and was the 4th longest of his 26 home runs in 2006. It was also the 4th longest at RFK this season (the longest being Lance Berkman’s 467 foot shot on May 22).
The visiting broadcasters were rightly impressed with Fielder’s homer, but while they can be excused for thinking otherwise, home runs into the upper deck at RFK are not at all uncommon. In fact, in 71 games at RFK so far this season, there have been 21 home runs hit into the upper deck, or one every 3.4 games. There have been a total of 147 homers at RFK, which means that 14% of all homers at RFK reach the upper deck.
Members of the RFK Upper Deck club include:
- Daryle Ward (3)
- Aramis Ramirez (2)
- Jose Guillen (2)
- Ryan Howard
- Albert Pujols
- Chipper Jones
- Reggie Abercrombie
- Carlos Beltran
- Lance Berkman
- Ryan Church
- Prince Fielder
- Mike Jacobs
- Nick Johnson
- Adam LaRoche
- David Ross
- Scott Spiezio (RF Pole, actually)
- Preston Wilson
So, let’s give Prince Fielder his due, but not go overboard in how we regard an upper deck homer at RFK. It’s just not that unusual…
On Sept. 10, 2006 Albert Pujols hit his 45th and longest home run of 2006 to date, a 459 foot blast off the Diamondbacks’ Enrique Gonzalez at Chase Field. Pujols’ shot left his bat at 119.4 mph, and landed in the second deck down the left field line (where else, check his homer scatter plot.)
Pujols’ previous longest homer of 2006 was his April 16 blast
off Cincinnati’s David Weathers at Busch Stadium, which traveled 455
feet (and which is still holding up as the longest in the history of
Another well-known Pujols homer, his 9th inning 3-run blast off Houston’s Brad Lidge in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS, also covered 455 feet.
During a 7-5 Pirates win at Wrigley Field over the Cubs, no less than three hitters launched their first home runs of 2006, including two who connected for the first time in their ML career:
- Pittsburgh’s Chris Duffy hit his first two homers of the season, and the second and third of his career overall, covering 398 and 417 feet.
- Chicago pitcher Carlos Marmol hit his first career homer, a 391 foot shot to left field.
- Cubs infielder Scott Moore also hit his first career homer, which interestingly also traveled 391 feet, but to left-center field…
Data for home runs per game at each ballpark are now available on the Hit Tracker site. Through Sept. 6, each MLB game had an average of 2.25 homers, with the AL at 2.32 homers per game and the NL at 2.18 per game. Here are the top and bottom parks for homers:
Top 5 most homers per game, by ballpark:
- U.S. Cellular Field, 3.00 hr/game
- Citizens Bank Park, 2.97 hr/game
- Great American Ball Park, 2.92 hr/game
- Rogers Centre, 2.70 hr/game
- Camden Yards, 2.66 hr/game
Bottom 5 least homers per game, by ballpark:
On Sunday, Sept. 3, Colorado’s Matt Holliday crushed the longest home run of the season at Dodger
Stadium, and the 5th longest overall of 2006, a 475 footer to left field off L.A.’s Elmer Dessens. Holliday’s massive blast came off the bat at a robust 116.7 mph, and had a standard distance of 440 feet. The wind, hot temperature and altitude at Chavez Ravine added +19, +13 and +4 feet respectively, turning a solid homer into an eye-popper! What makes it even more impressive, Holliday hit his 475 foot homer off a breaking ball that was traveling about 75 mph! It probably helped that Holliday got to hit a dry, non-humidor’ed baseball…
Hit Tracker will not be updated from Sept. 1-3, 2006. Updates will resume on Monday, Sept. 4. Apologies for any inconvenience.
The interesting thing is, these two homers were also the two hardest hit of the day, at 116.7 and 117.7 mph, respectively. Each was a screaming line drive into the right field bullpen, with the first getting a bit more air than the second (21.4 degrees elevation to 18.8 degrees).
Here are the flight paths of each homer, with the 3rd inning one first. Note how far apart the time markers are; these are the red circles, which show the ball location at 1 second intervals. This is what a line drive looks like, whereas a high fly ball would have the circles closely spaced, especially at the end of the path where the ball is steeply descending. The blue circles shows the landing point of the balls.
Travis Hafner, Aug. 30, 2006 3rd inning
Travis Hafner, Aug. 30, 2006 8th inning
As someone who is fairly obsessive about watching home runs (and baseball in general), nothing frustrates me more than when I can’t get the information I need to analyze a home run, particularly a long one. This can come about for a number of reasons: the flight of the ball may not be visible; it may not be possible to make a good read on the wind at the time of the hit; the location of the impact point may be difficult to accurately determine. Most of these issues can be improved greatly with a minor change, many of which can be brought about by MLB and the media outlets that cover the game. So, here goes, a wish list from Hit Tracker:
1. Atmopsheric conditions. To figure out how far a home run travels and how hard it was hit, it is very important to know the atmospherics at the time of the hit: temperature, wind direction and wind speed. Currently these things are recorded in the box score, but only at the beginning of the game (actually, some time before the first pitch, judging by when that info appears in MLB Gameday. It would be very helpful if this data could be captured every inning, or even every half inning. No need to put that all in the main box score, just capture it and put it somewhere I can read it.
Failing that, I would settle for more flags in the parks; some are great in this respect (Wrigley with the scoreboard flags, Yankee Stadium’s flags on the stadium rim and in left field), others are fair (Fenway and Jacobs Field in center field), others I still don’t know where the flag is (Great American Ball Park). This could also be a great marketing opportunity: MLB could sell a flag that flew over a major league game, just like they sell flags that flew over the White House…
2. Visual backgrounds. Some parks are just difficult to pick the ball up in: Shea Stadium in right field, the flag court in right field at Camden Yards, and my personal nemesis, the left field wall in Minute Maid Park. I think this one is probably unrealistic, but it would be great if those teams could make the background contrast a bit more with the white baseball. The first-base camera at Minute Maid helps, but that angle isn’t always available. It justs hurts to have to leave a home run un-analyzed…
3. Foul poles. In most cases it’s easy to figure out how far above field level the ball impacts, but when it hits the pole, it can be tricky. This request is easy: paint some tick marks on the poles, every 10 feet above field level, so I can tell how far up the ball hits…
4. Camera work. Here I have to ask the media for the assistance. Nothing frustrates me more than watching a zoomed-in image of the center fielder run back on a ball and then pull up short of the wall, while the ball (off camera) disappears somewhere far above. Usually I get lucky and there is another angle on the video (Soriano’s May 9 homer at Great American Ball Park is an example), but I’m nervous: the Adam Dunn homer from Aug. 10, 2004 (also at GABP) that reportedly went 535 feet is completely out of the frame on the video, meaning there’s no way to verify it, and there never will be. So, my request is, have a camera mounted high on the stadium and keep it wide for the entire play (but following the ball). Think of it as a blimp shot, only not so high…
So there are a few requests, some reasonable, some not, that would make the task of accurately estimating home run distances a lot easier. Now, if my MLB All Access account could get me not only every game, but every camera feed, that might take care of a few of these issues… something to think about.
On Aug. 28, Russell Branyan hit two homers for the Padres, including a 427 footer to left-center field and a huge 471 foot blast to right field. Branyan’s second homer left the bat at 119.4 mph, and picked up 14 feet from the warm, thin air inside Chase Field. Below are the overhead flight path and the side profile of Branyan’s impressive 471 foot shot…