Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 home run tidbits and notes

The Pittsburgh Pirates were a power-starved club in 2017. Here are some notable tidbits about the home runs that they DID hit.

The 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates hit 151 home runs, good for 14th in the 15-team National League. Only the offensively-inept San Francisco Giants hit less dingers.

The quest for power in 2018 will be an area of focus for the club, which is in real danger of falling behind the latest burgeoning trend in hitting.

Today, however, we will take a look back at the home runs the club did hit in 2017, and pick out some interesting notes and tidbits along the way. We will use ESPN’s wildly underrated Home Run Tracker, which is a wonderful resource for these homer-happy days.

The …Golden Sledgehammer?

Two Pittsburgh Pirates hitters – Josh Bell and Andrew McCutchen — qualified for “The Golden Sledgehammer.”

Surely you’ve heard of The Golden Sledgehammer. No? Well according to the ESPN home run tracker, The Golden Sledgehammer goes to the hitter with the longest average true distance for the 2017 season with a minimum of 18 home runs.

Bell’s 26 home runs had an average true distance of 400.5 feet, while McCutchen’s 28 dingers averaged out to 390.3 feet per bomb.

Though Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton traded mammoth, retweet-worthy bombs nearly every night, it was Joey Gallo who took home the “award,” averaging 422 feet within his 41 home runs.

The longest yard

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a true “tape measure” home run hitter in quite some time, so it should come as no surprise, then, that the longest true home run launched from the bat of a Pirates hitter measures out at 445 feet.

What may surprise you is that it came from the bat of David Freese, who benefited from the Coors Field effect when he blasted this one:

Bell and Jose Osuna were right behind Freese, each posting home runs of 444 feet. Bell doubles up in the top five with a 432 foot blast, an honor he surprisingly shares with Adam Frazier.

At this point, we should define “true distance.” The home run tracker defines it as so:

True Dist. (True Distance, a.k.a. Actual Distance) – If the home run flew uninterrupted all the way back to field level, the actual distance the ball traveled from home plate, in feet. If the ball’s flight was interrupted before returning all the way down to field level (as is usually the case), the estimated distance the ball would have traveled if its flight had continued uninterrupted all the way down to field level.

Having said that, Judge had the longest “true distance” home run of the year at 496 feet. Gallo follows in the next two spots with bombs of 494 and 490 feet. Judge makes another apperance in the top five at number four with a 487 foot blast, while Kennys Vargas of the Minnesota Twins launched a 483 home run. Stanton took a quantity vs quality approach in this regard, with four appearances in the top twelve.

Lanny Frattares vs  squeakers vs luck

The home run tracker also breaks out home runs into three categories. “No Doubts” means that the ball cleared the fence by at least 20 vertical feet AND landed at least 50 feet past the fence.

“Just enough” means that the ball cleared the fence by less than 10 veritical feet OR that it landed less than one fence height past the fence…basically, the ones that barely make it over the fence.

A “Lucky homer” is a home run that would not have cleared the fence if it had been struck on a 70-degree, calm day, with no other factors affecting it.

Here’s a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates home runs with this criteria in mind:

Immediately, Andrew McCutchen’s home runs stand out. Over half – 17 out of 28 – of his home runs would appear to be either just enough or lucky homers. They all count the same, of course, so take this for what you will.

One concrete determination that can be made from this set of data is that Josh Harrison‘s career high in home runs that he enjoyed in 2017 may have been an outlier, and his real power potential lies closer to years previous.

Stanton led all MLB sluggers with 24 no doubters.

A familiar friend was victimized

This last tidbit is something to make Pittsburgh Pirates fans smile.

The pitcher off of whom the Pittsburgh Pirates hit the most home runs was none other than Chicago Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta, who gave up six home runs to the Pirates over the course of 2017.

Image credit – Flickr Creative Commons

Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)