The 2012 Season In High Home Runs

Last time, I said this didn’t need any introduction, then I wrote a three-paragraph introduction. That’s probably going to happen again, because if I know anything, I know me. See? I’m wasting words already. Here’s the background:

I’m looking for pitches in extreme locations that were hit for dingers. Following will be the highest pitches that were hit for dingers this past season. I’m fascinated by what happens at the extremes, and if you aren’t, I guess that just makes us two different people, which we already knew beforehand.

This, as you can tell, is the fourth part of a four-part series. There are virtually limitless ways that you can sort all the season’s home runs, and I might go on to look at, say, the fastest and slowest pitches that got hit out, but I’d consider that a different but related series. Like a sibling, but not a twin.

Once more, I’ll present a top five, and once more, it’s actually a top six because there’s a two-way tie for the #5 slot. As usual, PITCHf/x didn’t record every single pitch of the entire season, so there exists some possibility that a worthy inclusion has been excluded. Said possibility is small and there’s a comments section down there if you have a question about something. The average pitch hit for a home run this year was 2.51 feet off the ground at the front of the plate. That’s pretty much right in the middle of the strike zone. The standard deviation was about 0.48 feet. Three standard deviations above the mean is 3.97 feet. Three pitches higher than that were hit for home runs. You are about to see them!

All of these pitches were going to be balls. None of these pitches realistically should’ve been hit for dingers. Some of them were mistakes by the pitcher, but not all mistakes deserve to be blasted in the other direction. Baseball can be mean.

(5t) Matt Kemp, September 19, vs. Tyler Clippard

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3.91 feet off the ground

There’s a sad story to this home run, if you’re not a Dodgers fan. If you are a Dodgers fan, you’d have a very different opinion. The Dodgers scored three runs in both the third and fourth innings, establishing a 6-0 lead, and that lead held into the bottom of the eighth. That’s when the Nationals rallied for six runs of their own to pull off a dramatic, unthinkable comeback. Clippard came on for the ninth, the Nationals holding all the momentum, and Clippard immediately got ahead of the first batter — Kemp — 0-and-2. He threw a high fastball that had no business being hit for a go-ahead homer. It was hit for a go-ahead homer, and the Dodgers won 7-6. Your thoughts, Tyler Clippard?

Baseball sucks/baseball is awesome

(5t) Adam Dunn, June 15, vs. Clayton Kershaw

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3.91 feet off the ground

Turns out a popular 0-and-2 pitch is a fastball high, out of the zone. Based on a sample size of these two home runs that you’ve seen, maybe it shouldn’t be. But that’s hardly a reasonable analysis. Why would you base anything on this sample size of two? Come on.

(4) Alexei Ramirez, August 24, vs. Jason Vargas

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3.92 feet off the ground

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that literally every pitch Jason Vargas threw last season was hit for a dinger. It’s a wonder and a statistical impossibility that he threw more than 200 innings.

(3) Raul Ibanez, July 27, vs. Aaron Cook

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4.08 feet off the ground

This was a slightly higher version of the pitch right before it. If there’s one place a contact sinker-baller like Aaron Cook wants to stay, it’s at and above the hitter’s belt.

(2) Jose Reyes, June 7, vs. Mike Minor

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4.16 feet off the ground

This was Reyes’ first home run of the season, and he was all smiles after he rounded the bases. He was followed at the plate by Omar Infante. The ball landed in front of a scoreboard showing the game numbers for Marlins starter Mark Buehrle. Reyes was congratulated in front of the dugout by Hanley Ramirez, he high-fived John Buck, everybody in the dugout looked to be having a great time, and the Marlins were a few games over .500. The Marlins were ahead 1-0. The Marlins would lose 8-2.

(1) Miguel Cabrera, September 19, vs. Jim Miller

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4.18 feet off the ground

Let’s give you a side view of the same home-run swing:

The highest pitch hit for a home run this season was hit by Miguel Cabrera. The most inside pitch hit for a home run this season was hit by Miguel Cabrera. In keeping with the Tigers theme, the lowest pitch hit for a home run this season was hit by Delmon Young, and the most outside pitch hit for a home run this season was hit off of Max Scherzer. All four of these most extreme home runs were hit in Comerica Park. “There must be something about Comerica Park that makes it unusually prone to this sort of thing,” one might incorrectly suppose.

0-and-2 count, by the way. Fastball. Miguel Cabrera fell behind 0-and-2 117 times last season. After doing so, he slugged .468. In 48 at-bats that ended with an 0-and-2 count, Cabrera slugged .542, with eight extra-base hits. Miguel Cabrera had himself a pretty good 2012 season. Somebody should give him some kind of award.

We hoped you liked reading The 2012 Season In High Home Runs by Jeff Sullivan!

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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Miguel Cabrera
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Miguel Cabrera

Nice swing, that one.