Let’s celebrate July 4th with a look at some Brewers fireworks from the 2016 season thus far — from the most majestic and explosive to the softest and luckiest. Most relevant data for this post can be found at HitTracker Online.
LONGEST: Chris Carter, 443 feet, May 15 vs. San Diego Padres
This mammoth home run is made all the more impressive by the fact that it was actually an opposite field blast, as it shot off the right-handed Carter’s bat to eventually clank off the right side of the scoreboard. As I wrote earlier this season, Carter has been getting a lot of mileage out of the relatively short power alley in Milwaukee’s right field, especially when compared to his old haunt in Houston. He has continued to enjoy Miller Park’s dimensions — 14 of his 20 home runs have come at home, and he enjoys a .599 slugging percentage at Miller Park compared to just .384 on the road. But he didn’t need Miller Park here — this was one of six home runs he has it in 2016 that would have been out of the park in all 30 major league stadiums according to Hit Tracker Online.
FASTEST OFF THE BAT: Chris Carter, 115.9 MPH, April 20 vs. Minnesota Twins
As Matt LePay put it, “That got out of here right now.” Not only was this the lowest line drive any Brewer has hit for a home run this season, it’s the lowest line drive any major league hitter has hit all year. According to HitTracker, this line drive was so low it would have only scraped the wall at 12 of baseball’s 30 parks, but there’s no denying this was one of the hardest hit balls in the league this year.
HIGHEST: Chris Carter, 155 foot apex, June 11 vs. New York Mets
One of the reasons I was excited to see what Chris Carter could do at Miller Park is that with his strength, he wouldn’t even need to hit the ball squarely to deposit dinger after dinger into the left and right field corners, much like he did with the Crawford Boxes in left field at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. This one had a launch angle of 38.4 degrees — for perspective, only 13 homers hit all year have had a launch angle higher than 40 degrees — and it’s awfully difficult to put enough force on the ball to hit it that high and get enough distance to push it over the fence at the same time. Carter is one of the few hitters in the league with the raw power to do so.
CLUTCHEST: Domingo Santana, 49 percent Win Probability Added, April 13 vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Brewers haven’t had a walk-off homer yet this year, but they have mustered three home runs in the top of the 9th or the top of an extra inning with the game tied. Santana’s two-out blast in the ninth inning off Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis was the biggest, the only one of the three to come with two down. And this one wasn’t cheap — he turned Rosenthal’s 98 MPH fastball around for a 437 foot homer. It remains the longest of Santana’s four home runs this season, and the third longest from any Brewer, behind the aforementioned Carter blast, and Ryan Braun’s May 26th homer in Atlanta.
SHORTEST: Jonathan Villar, 350 feet, June 3 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Villar is not much of a power hitter from either side of the plate, and especially not as a left-handed hitter. He has just a .324 SLG and 10 home runs in 661 career plate appearances from the left side. Even Villar was surprised by this one, in which he was slightly jammed and sliced it into the left field corner where it eventually caromed off the foul pole to close Milwaukee’s deficit to 6-3. The Brewers didn’t acquire Villar for his power, so his six home runs and .429 slugging percentage have been a nice bonus to go with his solid defense, speed, and contact hitting.
SOFTEST HIT: Ryan Braun, 95.8 MPH, June 11 vs. New York Mets
For the most part, Braun’s homers have been true fireworks. Six of his 13 home runs have traveled over 400 feet, and 10 of them have been blasted off the bat at over 100 MPH. In an awful inning for Antonio Bastardo, who also allowed the 155-foot-high blast from Carter from above, Braun barely deposited a fly ball to right field into the beerpen in Miller Park’s right field. HitTracker labeled it as the only “lucky” home run the Brewers have hit all season — per their glossary, it wouldn’t have cleared the fence if it was hit on a 70-degree calm day. June 11th was warm and windy, which gave Braun’s pop-up the extra 14 feet it needed to clear the wall.