What makes a good home run? Some of my favorites of 2006 so far…

I’ve been planning to summarize each day’s homers here, but on a day when among 33 homers, only one went further than 430 feet, it just doesn’t seem like the best use of my time and this space – after all, you can go to the main Hit Tracker page and get all that info.  So today, I’m going to share my thoughts on what makes a good home run.

  Obviously the first kind of home run that makes the highlight reel are the ones that go really far.  Here I’m going to call out Ryan Howard’s April 23 homer at Citizens Bank Park.  Going deep is great, and going really deep is really great, but when you hit a ball 491 feet and clear the batter’s eye to dead center, you’ve got a great visual.  Not to mention the fact that the opposing center fielder, Reggie Abercrombie, over whose head this magnificent homer soared, was the guy who to that point in the season owned the longest home run, a massive 481 foot upper deck shot at Great American Ball Park just four days earlier on April 19.

  The next kind of homer is one that doesn’t necessarily go as far, but which gets there really, really fast.  Here I’ve got a couple, coincidentally both from Fenway Park within a four day span around the trading deadline.

  First, Wily Mo Pena’s 404 foot rocket to left field at Fenway on August 2: Pena’s homer left the bat at 115.8 mph, and slammed into the back of the front row of the Monster seats an amazing 2.81 seconds later.  This is the shortest time of flight of any home run this season.  What made this homer look even better was the way it richocheted off the seats and rebounded a good portion of the way back to the infield, and the way the fans near the impact point scattered: rather than trying to grab a souvenir, these folks were scrambling to get out of the way and live another day.  Beautiful!

  The other rapid departure I want to share was Vladimir Guerrero’s 476 foot bomb at Fenway Park on July 30.  Curt Schilling threw Vlad a splitter on the inner half of the plate and down, and Vlad wound up and hammered it.  The ball screamed high over the Monster seats, and passed through the left hand bank of lights above the wall after a brief but exhilirating 2.96 second flight; 2 or 3 seconds later the ball presumably did come down somewhere beyond the wall (the analysis for this one was run to the point where it passed through the lights.)  You have to watch this one to appreciate it – if it doesn’t get you out of your seat then your couch cushions are too soft…

  Finally, I want to talk about the true majesty of the cheap shot.  These are the homers that come off the bat with an understated, lower-case "crack" (or maybe even more of a "splat"), and float their way to a resting spot a foot or two above an all-too-near outfield fence, to the delight of the hitter’s team and the disgust of the pitcher, who just surrendered a four-bagger on a ball he himself would have been ashamed of in BP…  A good example of this is John Buck’s 334 foot opposite field homer at Minute Maid Park on June 18 (suprisingly not a Crawford Box job).  95 mph off the bat, opposite field, lands on top of the wall… Andy Pettitte was not pleased…

  Your inputs on the "best" homers of 2006 are welcomed…

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3 comments

  1. mowristracy@hotmail.com

    The best homer for me is hands down the ryan howard on april 23. So far it has been the longest home run and definately the most impressive. Others include all of the the other Howard 450+ feet home runs including the one that went into the upper deck. I also really liked Adam Dunn’s field goal home run 480 feet away off John Grawbow. Any home run this year that went 450+ is a great home run. Im surprised that there hasn’t been a 500 foot home run this year. If you email me back I would like to know the longest home run of 2005? Did it reach 500 feet.

  2. blairb@rpi.edu

    I think Prince Fielder has hit some amazing ones, the one at home that went 473 off the back wall, especially the one that went 452 at PNC Park and was only a a foot or two from becoming the second homerun ever in the Allegheny River. The one Ortiz hit off the Speaker in Minnesota deserves a mention even though it was a 440 ft. single

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