Jose Bautista may have hit the greatest number of home runs in 2011, and Prince Fielder may have hit the single longest dinger, but there’s another way of measuring home run “wow factor”—distance consistency.

Or to be more specific, among the biggest power threats in baseball, who had the longest home run distance average? One giant blast over the fence is impressive, but there’s just so much entertainment value in watching a slugger crank out home runs into the third deck on a regular basis. To find out, I grabbed some data from the invaluable Hit Tracker Online and averaged out the home run distances of the top 15 home run hitters last year.

Your distance champion? Not Bautista, Fielder, or even Pujols, but Mike Stanton of the Marlins, who averaged 417 feet in his 34 home runs on the year.

Player | HRs | Avg Distance (ft) |
---|---|---|

Mike Stanton | 34 | 417 |

Matt Kemp | 39 | 412 |

Dan Uggla | 36 | 412 |

Prince Fielder | 38 | 409 |

Adrian Beltre | 32 | 407 |

Ryan Braun | 33 | 407 |

Jose Bautista | 43 | 406 |

Ryan Howard | 33 | 404 |

Albert Pujols | 37 | 403 |

Mark Reynolds | 37 | 402 |

Jacoby Ellsbury | 32 | 398 |

Jay Bruce | 32 | 397 |

Ian Kinsler | 32 | 392 |

Curtis Granderson | 41 | 389 |

Mark Teixeira | 39 | 387 |

But why not go a bit further? Hit Tracker Online calculates a whole lot more than just distance, so I plotted the average home run flight path trajectory for each player and overlaid them all together, with the longest and shortest home runs in 2011 for reference. Click to enlarge.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a proxy for batted ball speed. The bottom two in the table are both Yankees, due in part to the short home runs that sneak over the fence in Yankee Stadium’s right field porch. Those short home runs will drag their distance average down, so it’s not a very good measure of quality of contact. What it is, though, is a fun measurement of being able to break a windshield in the parking lot.

**References & Resources**

Hit Tracker Online. Every few months I’ll spend hours thumbing through it, and then wonder why I don’t do it more often.

David Wade said...

I don’t think Ike Davis and Justin Upton were slighted so much as they just weren’t among the top 15 home run hitters last year, which was the group Dan said he was looking at.

Dave Studeman said...

Seriously, people? When the article says this?

“I…averaged out the home run distances of the top 15 home run hitters last year.”

Nice job, Dan. Love the graphic.

ettin said...

I’m truly surprised that Mark Trumbo wasn’t on that list?

ettin said...

Nevermind…. but I bet if you added Trumbo you’d see his were among the longest hit.

Alan Nathan said...

Just curious about where on the site you find the actual trajectories.

Dan Lependorf said...

@Alan

They don’t have them on the site. But with total distance, apex height, some algebra and a dab of calculus…

Alan Nathan said...

Dan…OK. My own technique would be to use the speed off bat and two angles, the total distance, and hang time as input to a calculation that would adjust a few parameters to get the full trajectory. Unfortunately, Greg does not give the hang time online, so I would have to figure out how to make use of the apex instead. Somehow I suspect that it involves more than “a dab of calculus”.

Dan Lependorf said...

Alan, I actually take a different approach entirely. I estimate each path as two parabolas, one from bat to apex, and one from apex to ground. Since we know the apex is the vertex of both parabolas, the slope there is zero, meaning the derivative of the general parabola equation equals zero at the apex. Also, I assume the apex x-coordinate it’s directly proportional to the total distance. It’s not exact, but it’s a good enough guess. Then, with those three pieces of information (apex coordinates, ground coordinates, and zero slope at vertex), we can plot a parabola.

Alan Nathan said...

Dan…I suppose your approximations are as good as any, given that Greg does not actually measure the apex, nor does he measure the initial velocity parameters. All he really measures is the landing point and hang time. The rest is inferred from his fitting procedure, which utilize his own models for lift, drag, and the ball-bat collision. Given all those approximations, it probably doesn’t make much sense to be any more precise than you have been.

The technique I have used in the past to calculate a trajectory uses the initial velocity vector (actually measured from either HITf/x or Trackman) and the landing point and hang time (from Greg for home runs or from Trackman from other fly balls). As it turns out, those pieces of information do an excellent job constraining the full trajectory, as confirmed from experiments that obtain the full trajectory from Trackman. In principle, FIELDf/x data could do the same thing, but I don’t know that anyone has done that kind of analysis yet.

Dbacks fan said...

I thought Justin Upton held the longest HR avg distance at 423.6ft last year.

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2011_278&type=hitter

DD said...

Ike Davis, who was injured about one month into the 2011 season, hit home runs of 411.1 feet average length. In 2010, his rookie season, his average was 415.1.

I am learning to translate the articles I read at Hardball Times. Recently a discussion of the most effective pitchers left out any mention of Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey, who was 6th in the NL in WAR last year. Ike Davis was injured last year of course, but since he will probably figure in the longest home runs leaders in 2012, One would think he’d merit a mention.

But then, he’s a Met. As I said, I am learning to make the translation.

BostonDave said...

I just wanted to say that I just thought this article was fun!

Dale said...

Poor Justin. If he’d managed one more squeaker (like the Asdrubal 320 ft home run), he’d have averaged 420 feet and be lauded as the leader in “wow factor”.

Bing Tsang said...

The Jim Thome catwalk home run in Tampa Bay 3-4 years ago has to be among the all time dingers.

Alan Nathan said...

Rd Bing: Possibly, but I would bet that catwalk home runs are among the most difficult for getting an accurate distance, since the observation point (in the catwalk) is so far from ground level.

Brandon said...

Cool article. I really Ike the trajectory chart. I would complain about my favorite slugger being omitted but i don’t just look pictures, I actually read the article. ;D

Bojan said...

Good stuff Dan!