2012 So Far In Home-Run Numbers

ARLINGTON, TX: Jed Lowrie #4 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by Chris Johnson #23 for hitting a home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)

On average, who's hit the longest, fastest, shortest, and slowest home runs so far this season? Of course you were wondering about those things, and we've got answers.

As I write this Tuesday afternoon, there have been 1,978 home runs hit during the 2012 regular season. That is down a great deal from the 4,552 home runs hit during the 2011 regular season. But the 2012 regular season isn't even at the halfway point yet! Of course! Last season, on average, there was one home run every 40.7 trips to the plate. This season, on average, there's been one home run every 38.4 trips to the plate. Year Of The Pitcher? Not more than last year was, in this one specific regard.

People love home runs, because they're impressive, and people love long home runs, because they're even more impressive. As such, people care about home-run distance. Once people started caring about home-run distance, it opened the door for people to care about home-run speed of the ball off the bat. Fewer people care about that, but some do, and it's important, and this information is all available on the ESPN Home Run Tracker. That site exists because people are fascinated with home-run details.

I'm one of them, and what I'm presenting here is information. I found myself wondering who's averaged the longest home run so far this season. What I specifically found myself wondering was whether Bryce Harper has averaged the longest home run so far this season, but the only way to check that was to check Harper and pretty much everyone else. And if I was going to look for the highest average, I might as well look for the lowest average. And if I'm going to look at average distances, I might as well look at average speeds off the bat.

What I've done is collect individual player information from the Home Run Tracker for every player who's hit at least five home runs, of which at this writing there are 169. I set a lower bound of five because I didn't want to deal with tiny sample sizes. Five home runs still makes for a small sample size, so relative to four or six or nine, five is arbitrary, but I made my choice and I'm sticking with it. I sorted the data into top-ten or bottom-ten leaderboards. Look at them!

Highest Average Home-Run Distance

1. Miguel Montero, 419.7 feet (standard distance)
2. Bryce Harper, 418.6
3. Yoenis Cespedes, 417.8
4. Torii Hunter, 417.4
5. Alex Rodriguez, 413.7
6. Mark Trumbo, 412.5
7. Matt Holliday, 411.5
8t. Justin Maxwell, 411.4
8t. Josh Hamilton, 411.4
10. Adam Dunn, 411.2

Highest Average Home-Run Speed Off The Bat

1t. Colby Rasmus, 107.5 miles per hour
1t. Pablo Sandoval, 107.5
3. Torii Hunter, 107.3
4. Bryce Harper, 107.2
5t. Vernon Wells, 107.1
5t. Rickie Weeks, 107.1
5t. Delmon Young, 107.1
8t. Hanley Ramirez, 106.9
8t. Ike Davis, 106.9
10. Giancarlo Stanton, 106.8

Lowest Average Home-Run Distance

1. Jed Lowrie, 367.5 feet (standard distance)
2. Gordon Beckham, 373.3
3. Will Venable, 374.4
4. Russell Martin, 375.3
5. B.J. Upton, 375.8
6. Curtis Granderson, 378.0
7. Rod Barajas, 378.5
8. Shane Victorino, 378.9
9. Asdrubal Cabrera, 379.5
10. Derek Jeter, 379.7

Lowest Average Home-Run Speed Off The Bat

1. Jed Lowrie, 97.9 miles per hour
2. Will Venable, 98.8
3. Derek Jeter, 99.5
4t. Russell Martin, 99.7
4t. Alex Presley, 99.7
6. Gordon Beckham, 100.4
7. B.J. Upton, 100.5
8t. Wilson Betemit, 100.6
8t. Todd Frazier, 100.6
10. Rod Barajas, 100.8

I used standard distance, instead of regular distance, to strip out any environmental effects like wind or altitude. The overall average home run has had a standard distance of 396.1 feet, and a speed off the bat of 103.6 miles per hour. If you're interested in seeing all of the data, open this file. It is not very big.

This is more for the sake of curiosity, and less for the sake of analysis. The samples are small, and of course home runs are hit in a wide variety of ballparks, some of which allow easier home runs than others. For what it's worth, I was looking for Bryce Harper, and there he is, averaging the second-longest homer and the fourth-fastest homer. There's a strong correlation between home-run distance and home-run speed, but you need to hit the ball within a certain range of angles, and the early evidence suggests that Harper has a mammoth home-run swing, and not a line-drive home-run swing.

Yoenis Cespedes is hardly a surprise near the top of the distance leaderboard. He swings hard and drives the ball hard, and features an uppercut. Just over a third of Cespedes' balls in play have been grounders, which is well below the average. He likes to put the ball in the air, and he likes to make the ball travel great distances.

At the bottom, there's Jed Lowrie. Lowrie has 13 home runs -- more home runs than Matt Holliday, Andrew McCutchen, Prince Fielder, and Albert Pujols -- but seven of them have a standard distance under 360 feet. This one has a standard distance of 298 feet, gaining 30 feet from wind. It's not that Lowrie is incapable of hitting the ball really far, as he just blasted a 421-foot homer off Justin Grimm. But those long home runs are the exception, and Lowrie's in a good ballpark for his skillset.

Three Yankees show up in the lowest average distance leaderboard, and that should come as a surprise to nobody.

That's all for now. I hope that any curiosity you might have had is sated, and we'll check back again after the season's over. Some of the names will change, but something tells me Harper and Cespedes won't move too much from where they are.

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