By now you’ve seen Aaron Judge’s massive home run in the Yankees’ first spring training game last week. If you haven’t, well, here it is.
And here’s where it landed.
Aaron Judge is big and strong and can hit a baseball really, really far. That much we know. What we don’t know about Judge can fill an entire blog or seven; for instance, will he even make the Opening Day roster? Can he find a way to make more contact? Will the new leg kick work? (I’m so sick of reading about Judge’s leg kick).
We all hope number 99 will be a mainstay in the Bronx, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty. Assuming Judge does stick, the only question I have is, how far will the baseballs he hits travel in Yankee Stadium?
We discussed Judge’s adjustments and home run prowess on The Bronx Pinstripes Show earlier this week (17:25 mark).
There have been some long home runs in the new Yankee Stadium’s brief history. There have also been a lot of them thanks to the short(er) right field porch and wind tunnel that apparently dissipated after 2009.
I used ESPN’s home run tracker, which measures the true distance of home runs — in other words, the distance a ball would have traveled uninterrupted all the way back down to field level — to track the longest homers in the new Yankee Stadium history. It’s a fun page to explore; you stumble upon fun facts like Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs at least 490-feet last season, and claimed the longest shots at four National League ballparks.
I mention Stanton because many compare Judge to the Marlins slugger. Both are huge, both are right-handed, and both have a propensity to strike out. While Judge didn’t claim the longest home run at the Stadium last season, he did come close.
In a very anticlimactic fashion, the longest HR at Yankee Stadium last season was off the bat of Steven Souza Jr. (there’s a name for ya).
Souza smoked a 461-foot dinger last September off Jonathan Holder to straight-away center field. About a month earlier, Judge debuted in the Bronx and hit his own blast — 457-feet, to be exact — off the black in center.
In only 27 games in the majors, Judge hit two home runs that appear on the 2016 Yankee Stadium leaderboard. The aforementioned HR on Aug. 16, and then a 443-footer on Sept. 12.
460-ish feet seems to be a magic number for Yankee Stadium home runs. It was the distance of Souza Jr.’s blast and the distance an Alex Rodriguez home run traveled in 2011, the longest of that season. Judge came dangerously close in a short span last year, and with a full season in the Bronx this year, should have ample opportunities to best 460-feet.
The longest home run ever hit at the Stadium belongs to old friend Raul Ibanez, who was with the Phillies back in 2009 when he crushed this 477-foot 3-iron off Chien-Ming Wang.
Ibanez not only claims the longest home run in new Yankee Stadium history, but he is also the proud owner of a third-deck right field shot — he and Russell Branyan are the only two to reach those heights.
Upper deck home runs were synonymous with the old Yankee Stadium. The sea of fans in the right field grandstands, which nearly hung over the field of play, provided a dramatic backdrop to some of the longest and most impactful home runs. Now, with multiple luxury levels and recessed third level seating, hitting a ball up there is next to impossible.
If I were a betting man, though, my money is on Aaron Judge to reach those limits. If he does so, it’ll of course have to be in left field which is considerably more difficult to do than right field.
The below chart tracks the path of Ibanez’ upper tank shot. You’ll notice that, had it been to the exact spot in left field, the ball most likely would not have reached the third level. To safely reach LF upper limits, a ball must have at least 425-feet of true distance while also having the height (Ibanez’ homer was 116-feet at it’s apex) to reach the upper deck.
Can Judge do it? Sure. As we saw last season and as we saw in his first spring training homer, the guy can mash.
Does any of this really matter? No, not really, but it’ll be fun to monitor all season.