I am not ready for November and everything that goes along with it. It’s dark early. I feel confused that there’s no baseball being played. I have been catching myself staring out the window at the fading light like a sad dog waiting for its owner to return. Winter isn’t my favorite time of the year, is what I’m trying to say. The day after the final game of the World Series marks the beginning of a liminal space many of us float through until that void ends, mercifully, on Opening Day.
Judging by the hundreds of comments on FanGraphs articles since the Royals won their championship a few days ago, it doesn’t seem like you, dear studious readers of these pages, are ready for baseball to be over either. And really, baseball isn’t over in any mortal sense; there is still the Arizona Fall League, if we require it. There are still the upcoming winter leagues. And, of course, there are these articles, where we get to relive the very best instances of strong men hitting baseballs meaningful distances.
So that’s what we’re going to do today! Let’s watch the most unlikely, improbable, and impressive home runs of the playoffs. The lowest, the highest, the furthest, the fastest. Let’s act like we don’t have a missing part of us that can only be filled with baseball. Let’s stop talking about it being winter (cough) and watch some homers.
Hardest-Hit and Lowest-Apex Home Run
Michael Conforto, NLDS Game 2
Hit off a Zack Greinke 92.6 mph four-seamer, this is one of those home runs that is such a laser that you can barely see the ball travel from the camera’s usual perspective. Marking his very first postseason hit, Conforto hit this really, really hard. Although there is some disagreement between Savant and HittrackerOnline about how fast this came off the bat — the former says 114 mph, the latter 118 — both agree this was harder than any other postseason homer. It also travelled at a maximum height of only 37 feet off the ground, making it nine feet lower than any other postseason homer.
Softest-Hit & Lowest Pitch Hit for a Home Run
Daniel Murphy, NLCS Game 2
Coming in the midst of Daniel Murphy’s ridiculous home run streak, this pitch had no business being hit over the fence. There were whole articles written about this home run, and given that he basically hit the ball with one hand, it isn’t too surprising that it represents the softest-hit homer of the postseason at 91 mph off the bat. It was also the third-lowest homer hit all year by a left-handed hitter, and the very lowest curveball. I’ll end with this snippet from Dave’s article to illustrate just how freakish this was:
“Of the 1,457 balls in play on swings at pitches no higher than 12.76 inches off the ground (the height of this pitch), 73 percent resulted in ground balls. Even hitters who made contact at swings in these locations almost always hit it on the infield, which makes perfect sense given how low these pitches are. Only 12 percent of balls in play on these low swings resulted in a fly ball or a popup, and that’s 12 percent of the subset of swings that put the ball in play to begin with. As a percentage of total swings at pitches that low, only 1.2 percent resulted in a fly ball or pop fly.”
Shortest Home Run
Salvador Perez, ALCS Game 5
At the very tail end of a brilliant Marco Estrada start that pushed the ALCS to six games, this Sal Perez homer would only go over the fence in 16 parks, according to HittrackerOnline. Measured at a mere 342 feet by Statcast, Estrada almost hit his spot — maybe the pitch was just a little up — but almost was shown to be regularly not good enough against the Royals this October.
Longest Home Run
Kyle Schwarber, NLCS Game 1
Schwarber hit some ridiculous home runs this postseason, perhaps none more memorable than the moonshot that landed on top of the Budweiser sign in right field during Game 4 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. This shot, however, was hit much longer than that home run was (459 feet vs. 419 feet), which is what happens when Schwarber can extend his arms to turn a belt-high 92.8 mph Matt Harvey fastball around. Of note: TBS play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson’s call that this ball was hit “pretty well”. Indeed, Mr. Johnson.
Slowest Pitch Hit for a Home Run
Starlin Castro, NLDS Game 3
There must be a moment — a truly terrible moment — about midway through a pitcher hanging a breaking ball when they realize two things. First, that they’ve hung a breaking ball; and second, that the batter is sitting on said breaking ball. We can imagine both of these thoughts going through Michael Wacha’s head as this 73.5 mph curveball spun lifelessly toward the plate, its destiny already preordained as a missile to be shot into the Chicago night.
Fastest Pitch Hit for a Home Run
Jose Bautista, ALDS Game 5
There are some events in sports that don’t need to be described, and the attempt to describe them acts as an affront to the particular moment. This is one of those times. Let’s just say this: Bautista turned around a 97.3 mph sinker from Sam Dyson, and then he gave us something we’ll cherish forever:
Thank you, Jose Bautista.
Highest-Apex Home Run
George Springer, ALDS Game 1
When a fly ball pitcher combines with a batter that swings as hard as he can at almost every pitch he sees, great things can happen. Take, for instance, this home run: reaching a maximum height of 135 feet, it was three feet higher than teammate Colby Rasmus‘ Wild Card game homer off of Masahiro Tanaka (which took second place in this category). Of note: Chris Young also gave up the highest-apex home run of the regular season, a truly spectacular shot hit by Hanley Ramirez that reached a height of 180 feet — ten feet higher than any other homer this season.
Highest Pitch Hit for a Home Run
Troy Tulowitzki, ALCS Game 3
In addition to this home run coming on a pitch at the letters (it measured just under 3’9″ off the ground), it also served as a reminder that Tulowitzki is still capable of amazing things, even when he isn’t 100 percent. This homer was the pressure valve the Blue Jays had been waiting for in the ALCS, and it evoked wild elation in the dugout — especially from Munenori Kawasaki:
On Friday, we’ll look at the most extreme home runs from the regular season, with more categories that befit the larger sample of home runs we’ll have. Until then, enjoy the Arizona Fall League and pretending that it’s still October.
Owen Watson writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @ohwatson.