There are few reversal of fortune so dramatic as the 0-2 home run. When pitchers corner a batsman into an 0-2 count, said batsman has hit .154/.160/.216 through the 2013 season. The following sample of at bats combine for an immaculate 1.000/1.000/4.000 slash.
Let’s take a look at them.
This is an outlay of the all the 0-2 home runs through May 1:
There is a total, by my count, of 22 of these darling home runs so far this season. Of the hitters, only White Sox outfielder Alex Rios has blapped more than one. No pitcher has had the misfortune of more than one 0-2 homer. Yet.
Here, with this second interactive chart, you can examine each specific at bat:
Here are my favorite ones:
3. Alex Rios Doesn’t Care Who Felix Hernandez is, Hits Home Run
Indeed we can put it on the board, yes, yes, yes. Click, if you will on the pull-down menu of the second chart. Select “Alex Rios.” Then, with the second pull-down menu, select Sir “Felix Hernandez.”
Note the home run pitch: A changeup over the heart of the plate. Hernandez is probably the best pitcher in this whole examination, but his 0-2 changeup could have been neither a worse selection against the free-swinging right-handed batter, nor a worse location.
BIS pitch values suggest Rios hits changeups harder and better than any other pitch he sees. PITCHf/x linear weights say it is his second-best pitch. There are ways to get Alex Rios out, but misplaced changeups do not work often.
2. Ryan Roberts Stuns Expectations, Rational Thought, Takes CC Sabathia Deep
Select, if you will, “Ryan Roberts” from the “slugger” category, then transition the “slinger” category to “(All)” or “CC Sabathia.”
Ryan Roberts, you should know, has a career 91 wRC+. Alex Rios at least has a 100 wRC+, plus four seasons at 108 wRC+ or higher. Roberts does, however, hit 109 wRC+ against lefties.
But CC Sabathia is not “lefties.” CC Sabathia is CC “Career 80 ERA-, 59.4 WAR, Makes-Mothers-Cry-For-Their-Position-Player-Sons” Sabathia. Righties hit a sad .247/.307/.381 against him. But in this inning, Ryan Roberts will hit one-thousand, one-thousand, four-thousand. Roberts would then repeat the donger feet in the third inning, this time on a 3-1 fastball.
1. Ryan Braun Goes Powza on a High Jeff Samardzija Slider
Looking at Braun’s at bat, we see this progression:
- 1. Took fastball strike down and in.
2. Whiffed at high fastball in the zone.
3. & 4. Fouled away a pair of high fastballs.
5. Having finally timed the fastball, Braun swings at a slider nearly a half-foot above the strike zone, then Man with Yellow Mustache careens down large yellow slide.
Samardzija is not a bad pitcher — he has a 3.35 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and 2.89 SIERA this season. And though a slider up in the zone is not a good location, Samardzija’s slider is arguably his best pitch and “nearly a half-foot above the strike zone” is not the universally accepted NitroZone®.
But Ryan Braun has a career 150 wRC+ and Zips projects him to for an ∞ wRC+ through the remainder of the season. Braun, you see, is a good hitter.
There are many fun at bats in this collection of 22. Howie Kendrick digging out a low curve against Tommy Milone. Alex Rios redirecting a Zach McAllister two-seamer nearly a foot above the strike zone. Chris Davis blasting a curve down-and-away from fellow lefty Sean Doolittle.
And all of these magnificent homers further prove that, regardless of the average, of the history — the run expectancy or the odds — any outcome is possible with any pitch. Except for a Jesus Montero triple. That’ll never happen.
Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.