So You Want to Hit a Power Home Run

I took all the home run data made available by Major League Baseball’s Statcast page and ran some evaluations. The caveat here is that they only provide the top 50 (or so) longest HRs for 2015 through 2017. We’ll call them ‘Power Home Runs’, or PwHR.

For the purpose of this exercise, and until further data can be accumulated, we’ll call any HR hit further than 459 feet a ‘PwHR’ and eligible for this evaluation. More on that in a second.

In this three-year range, the PwHR distance spread was about 60 feet; as high as 504 feet (Giancarlo Stanton, 2016) to 459 feet (Carlos Gonzalez/Nelson Cruz, 2015/2017). Exit velocity (EV) speeds varied from 119MPH (Stanton, 2016 and 2017) to 101MPH (Gonzalez, 2017), and launch angles from 38 degrees (Addison Russell, 2017) to 18 degrees (Jorge Soler, 2015). Yes, its true this HR data I’m using is not the whole story; according to Unconventional Stats the average home run (in 2016) is exactly 399.65 feet; PwHRs start at almost 60 feet further.

I was unable to find a site outside of Statcast that took all home run information data outside what was provided by MLB. However, this study from 2010 finds that the average home run angle is 29 degrees (with a standard deviation of 5 degrees) with an average exit velocity of 101 miles per hour (SD of 4MPH). It’s a little outdated, so we are going to focus on what you’ll need, on average, to hit a PwHR instead. They’re much more fun to watch, anyway.

Before I present the main findings, I’ll provide some standard data. First, here is the plot chart of all PwHR data I pulled:

As we can see, it’s pretty concentrated between 20 and 30 degrees with most exit velocity falling between 108 and 114 MPH; a little bit lower than the 2010 data referenced in the prior paragraph.

The standard deviations, along with median and mode data, is in the following chart. Our biggest variance is height, which doesn’t really make that much of a difference so long as the ball clears the wall (~10 feet high).

Let’s get a little more specific and use the average of all three categories. An approximation of average launch angle is 26 degrees, with an exit velocity of 107 MPH, and a height of 95 feet. Did someone meet that exact figure? Why yes, once. In 2015. Who was it and what does an average PwHR look like?

(Sorry, its Alex Rodriguez!)

So, using the average exit velocity (107 MPH) and launch angle (26 degrees), I created a spray chart along with the results of all hits in the Statcast era that satisfied the criteria (the ‘x’ is a parse error I reported to Baseball Savant):

The EV/LA data from 2015-2017 yielded a batting average of .990, with 1% being singles, 6% ending as doubles, 1% being triples, and 91% resulting in an HR. Since the 2010 data is out of its element, let’s relate that to the 2016 average exit velocity for a general home run.

So, in 2016, we have a difference of about 4 MPH between a typical HR and an average PwHR. I would venture to guess we’d have a larger variance between launch angles and height, which allow us to distinguish between a PwHR and a plain ‘ole boring HR.

One last bit of data I’ll share in relation to our average 26-degree launch angle are these two top 10 exit velocity charts I grabbed from the MLB Statcast leaderboard for 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively:

In each of the three seasons, our average PwHR figures present themselves in the 90th percentile in every season except 2015. Furthermore, the 26-degree figure at 107 MPH exit velocity yielded the third-highest HR% using hit probability based on launch angle and exit velocity.

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