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It’s Impossible to Tell How Far Home Runs Are Flying Now

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: Juan Soto hits a ball ... somewhere, a wild stick save from Carey Price and more.

It is high. It is far. It is ... where, exactly?

Thank god for MLB’s Statcast system, otherwise we’d have no way of knowing that Juan Soto hit the longest home run of his career last night at Citi Field.

MLB’s sophisticated radar system tells us the ball left the bat at 112.9 mph (also making it Soto’s hardest-hit homer) and traveled 466 feet, but see whether you can tell from the video where the ball landed. 

Nationals broadcaster Bob Carpenter, calling the game off a monitor back in Washington, had no idea what happened to the ball. “High and deep and, evidently, way out of here,” he said. 

I kind of forgot what watching baseball under normal circumstances was like so I may be totally wrong, but I feel like there have been so many more home runs this season that I’ve been totally unable to track. 

Remember the blast Fernando Tatís Jr. hit last week? I know it went a mile because he celebrated like it did, but the video makes it impossible to tell where it landed. 

Same goes for this one by Tatís’s teammate, Wil Myers.

Here’s one Miguel Sanó hit Wednesday night where Twins announcer Dick Bremer said, “I have no idea where that landed.”

So what’s going on here? I think it’s a few things. First of all, the presence of a crowd makes it a lot easier to tell where a ball lands. Fans create a mosaic of different colors in the stands that make for a nice contrasted background as the ball is flying, and people in the area where the ball is hit will jump up to try to grab it. That makes it easier for the viewer at home to see where a ball went, but I also bet it helps the camera operator follow the path of the ball.

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When the ball does land, it helps to have a dark-colored background to see it bouncing. Soto’s 463-foot shot to dead center on Monday night landed in the black batter’s eye, so you don’t have to have 20/20 vision to see it bounce and know he crushed it. Aaron Judge’s 468-foot homer against the Red Sox earlier this month landed in the bleachers of Yankee Stadium, an area full of gray concrete and silver metal. If you look really, really closely, you can see the ball bounce about halfway up the bleachers. 

It’s been clear for years now that the ball itself is juiced, so we’re seeing tons of home runs, and ones that are flying farther than ever. As a Yankees fan, I just want to be able to watch Judge and Giancarlo Stanton punish some baseballs. I feel like that’s been harder to actually observe this season. 

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