Franmil Reyes Hit Nearly 900 Feet of Home Run

There probably aren’t many times in his life when Franmil Reyes has snuck up on someone. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Reyes looks like he could stiff arm a Ford F-150. There’s nothing inconspicuous about him. However, despite being fourth in average exit velocity since he was called up in 2018 – rubbing elbows with the Aaron Judge-s, Nelson Cruz-s, and Joey Gallo-s of the world – Reyes’ name is rarely mentioned when discussing the game’s prodigious power hitters. Part of this may be because he’s played in Cleveland and a pre-Fernando Tatis Jr. San Diego. Part of it may be because, despite the jumbo exit velocity, he’s tied for 21st in home runs over that span. You can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if 46.6% of them are on the ground like Reyes’ have been, people will lose interest as quickly as those blistering grounders become outs.

Exit velocity will catch the eye of dedicated, hardcore fans painstakingly poring over data. But massive home runs will always be the quickest way to draw the eyes of casual fans. Ideally (as Reyes did twice on Tuesday night) you can hit a ball over 110 mph while also sending it halfway to a neighboring county. Reyes may not have to worry about sneaking up on people anymore, both because he’s finally getting the results that his exit velocities would suggest, and because he’s literally being very loud. You’ll know he’s around because you’ll know the sound of his bat.

Added together, these tape-measure shots traveled 886 feet. That’s over 100 feet longer than the 720 feet of home run trot he got to partake in. There are certainly some days where I do not travel 720 feet, let alone 886. No matter, though, because watching Reyes sock a couple dingers makes me feel like I’m soaring around the world and back. Home runs come in all different shapes and sizes. But it’s those rising line drives, the ones that seem to get stronger as they go, that really get the juices flowing. This guy knows what I’m talking about.

With matching 111.3 exit velocities, Reyes’ twin homers were the hardest hit balls of Cleveland’s 7-4 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. They also made Reyes the first Cleveland hitter of the Statcast era to mash two 110 mph taters in the same game, and just the sixth person to go yard twice against Kenta Maeda in the same game. The longer one, measured at 452 feet, doesn’t even crack Reyes’ top-five longest flights.

Powered by Reyes’ electric bat, Cleveland’s win brought them back to an even 11-11, while Minnesota is stuck with the fewest wins in the majors, face down in a 7-15 puddle. For every fan with double thumbs up hootin’ and hollerin’ at a 450-foot tank, there’s a pitcher on a last-place team wondering how that’s even humanly possible.

Conversely, there’s the look of elation from the person who made it all possible. Imagine doing something so awe-inspiring that it lifts people into a standing, shouting frenzy, while the physical results of your effort end up really far away. Launching a baseball as hard and as far as Reyes can – in the blink of an eye, no less – is the closest thing he’ll ever get to time travel. That might be why his bodily reactions personify a jubilant “Wheeeeee!” sound.

This sort of thing is old hat for Reyes, whose maximum exit velocity from each season of his career have ranked in the top 4% of the league. His HardHit% for the year is hanging out at a casual 60.4%. He hits the ball hard, and has been known to mess around in the 115 part of town. For the first time since 2019, fans are getting a look at these powerful outputs in person, and as you may expect, batted balls from Franmil Reyes are super-duper terrifying up close.

Reyes has now played in 317 major league games. He’s hit two homers in 10 of them, making him one of just nine players with 10 or more multi-homer games since he came on the scene in 2018. Traded from San Diego to Cleveland as part of the three-team deal involving Trevor Bauer and Taylor Trammell, Reyes is making just over $602,000 for his services in 2021. He’s proving to be a huge bargain in the early going, as he boasts a 179 wRC+, leads his team in home runs, is second in the league in Barrels per plate appearance, and sits a few ticks above Mike Trout and Nelson Cruz on the American League’s exit velocity leaderboard. After Tuesday night’s demolition derby, Terry Francona said that Reyes “has the ability to kind of put us on his shoulders,” while Cleveland closer James Karinchak chimed in, “He’s got some of the [best] power I’ve ever seen, man.”

If he can continue anything close to his .308/.337/.679 slash line, or bring his walk rate up from its current 3.6% to the double-digit mark he cleared in 2020, Reyes will not only earn a pretty penny in arbitration this winter, but also potentially hold down a lineup spot for years to come. With the universal DH all but an inevitability, and Reyes still months away from his 26th birthday, several National League teams could come calling as they reconfigure their lineups to remove the pitcher.

Of course, that’s all conjecture. Any number of things could happen between now and the offseason that would curtail Reyes’ future prosperity. For one, he’ll definitely get a larger scoop of breaking balls in each game moving forward, and a smaller helping of the fastballs that he slugs .886 on. But right now, the titan in Cleveland’s No. 32 jersey is laying waste to baseballs everywhere. If he keeps this up, it will be virtually impossible for him to sneak up on anyone, whether it be pitchers or bleacher-dwelling fans running for cover.

Matthew is a contributor at FanGraphs and a staff writer/podcast host at Lookout Landing. His previous work includes bylines at Baseball Prospectus, Riot Fest, and one-on-one interviews with Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe, Brenden Dillon, David Fizdale, and several minor league players. He goes by the full Matthew, and it's pronounced RAW-berson.

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2 years ago

My favorite Franmil tater. 479 feet off Luke Jackson. I’m a Braves fan so I was happy with the outcome haha but this one was impressive.

2 years ago
Reply to  kylerkelton

Very impressive indeed, but probably one of the most meaningless HR in the history of the game – down by 14 with 2 Outs in the 9th and bases empty 🙂