As the old saying goes, a juiced ball lifts all boats.
The White Sox improved upon their home run total in 2017, flipping the last two numbers with a rise from 168 to 186.
In 2016, 168 homers was good for 13th in the American League. Had they hit 186, they would have crept into ninth.
But only a year later, 186 homers is only good for ... 13th in the American League. The Sox would have needed to hit 200 homers just to sneak into the top 10.
So the White Sox weren’t able to take any special advantage of the conditions, but they were able to add to their personal distance stats. They added four feet on their average homer (397 to 401), the longest White Sox homer in 2017 was the longest in three years of Statcast, and they had a couple that would have led in other seasons by old measures.
But before we get to the tape-measure shots, a quick rundown of the other extremes.
- Shortest home run: Rob Brantly, 342 feet on Oct. 1.
Hawk Harrelson was in the middle of praising the White Sox press corps on the final day of the season, and Brantly caught him off guard with a homer that didn’t even reach the stands.
Garcia has a tendency to rake at his former stomping grounds, and he nearly stuck this one in Comerica Park’s shrubbery.
- Slowest home run: Melky Cabrera, 90.4 mph on July 22, 2017
A backspin-laden ball that wafted out of Kauffman Stadium on a warm evening.
- Highest home run: Jose Abreu, 44.5 degrees on Sept. 3.
At 345 feet, this one also would have been the shortest homer of the year had Brantly not meddled on the last day of the season.
- Lowest home run: Jose Abreu, 16.2 degrees on May 6.
What does the lowest homer of the year look like? Here’s a screen grab:
Now, let’s dispense with the novelty and move on to the dingeriest dingers of 2017. This is the sixth year of tracking the longest homers, and these were the old highs:
- 2016: Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, 465 feet
- 2015: Jose Abreu: 453 feet
- 2014: Avisail Garcia: 468 feet
- 2013: Adam Dunn: 462 feet
- 2012: Adam Dunn, 460 feet
And here are this year’s entries, starting with 2016’s co-champ.
No. 5 (tied): Avisail Garcia
When Garcia pulls a fastball in the air, it can go a long way. In this one, he redirected a Nate Karns fastball to a part of the bleachers that doesn’t get much action.
No. 5 (tied): Tim Anderson
Coors Field’s right-center field fence has a way of making long homers look like wall-scrapers.
A couple games later, Charlie Blackmon hit a 477-footer off Carlos Rodon, which counts as the longest homer I’ve seen in person according to Statcast. Yet I still don’t remember it as vividly as a Yasiel Puig blast in Petco in 2013, which Hit Tracker said was a foot shorter.
No. 4: Matt Davidson
Davidson hit 15 of his 26 homers at home, but he saved his best for the road. Here’s a water-seeking missile off Ian Kennedy.
No. 3: Jose Abreu
Jon Lester threw Abreu a rolling curve, and Abreu gave it one of his trademarked swats to left field. John Jay dudn moo.
No. 2: Jose Abreu
It’s always a pleasure when Tom Paciorek is on hand for a no-doubter. Ariel Miranda hung a changeup to Abreu, and Abreu’s contact turned Wimpy into the Kool-Aid Man before Hawk Harrelson could get started.
So Abreu had at least the second-longest homer of 2017, which would have been good enough to top the list in most seasons. Did he defend his crown for a third consecutive year?
No. 1: Matt Davidson
Davidson put a stamp on his first crosstown game, placing a Koji Uehara splitter onto Waveland Avenue for a solo homer that capped the scoring in a 3-1 victory.
The pitch was so fat that Davidson’s spirits registered an even higher launch angle before he made contact. Here’s Davidson anticipating the delivery ...
... and here’s Davidson taking great pleasure in murder.
And here’s Davidson’s hair.