Generally, I enjoy taking a longer view at players performance or how they can improve but I want to try and take a look at smaller game events that blow me away. My first attempt at this will be this absolute behemoth blast from Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Jazz Chisholm's 402-foot home run | 04/10/2021
Statcast measures the projected distance and exit velocity of Jazz Chisholm Jr.'s solo home run off Jacob deGrom
Not sure if you caught some of the smaller details here but I have a few for you. There are two outs in the inning, because Jacob DeGrom already struck out the first two batters on eight total pitches. Garrett Cooper put up the most fight, battling for five pitches, two balls and two swinging strikes and one foul tip. He saw four fastballs and one slider. Brian Anderson went down on two swinging strikes and a foul tip to end his at-bat and every pitch was a fastball. Every DeGrom fastball was 98 miles per hour or faster, and the lone slider he threw was 92 miles per hour.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. at this point in the at-bat has two strikes. Both on fastballs that registered at 99+ miles per hour. Chisholm took one strike and then swung and missed at a fastball. The third pitch he sees, the one linked above, is 100+ mile per hour fastball that is out of the strike zone by every view I could find. Some showed slightly closer than others:
Here’s the entirety of his at-bat:
DeGrom’s fastball will generate a whiff nearly 40% of the time. DeGrom fastball’s located where Chisholm Jr’s homerun was have this general profile:
Whole lot of red, which is good for DeGrom and bad for batters. 50% of all swings end up as a whiff and he strikes out 75% to 100% batters in the zone(s) that Chisholm Jr. is swinging. For all intents and purposes, Chisholm Jr. was very likely to strike out, especially in an 0–2 count.
Yeah yeah, batting average isn’t the best measurement but it gets the point across. And yet, Chisholm Jr. not only gets a hit on a pitch that, by the way, would’ve been a ball, he crushes it into the highest deck of Citi Field 402 feet away from home plate. The expected batting average of pitches hit at the launch angle and exit velocity of Chisholm Jr’s homerun is 1.000, it was not a cheap-o. Another detail: did you look at his load?
He toe tapped. Chisholm Jr. barely picked up his front foot for that swing. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall and is by no means small but also not large, and he absolutely demolished this pitch without the now standard leg lift most batters use. He didn’t even choke up on the bat like someone may during a two strike count.
Converting from miles per hour to feet per second, a 100 mile per hour fastball from DeGrom is travelling at 146.667 feet per second. This means that his fastball will travel 60 feet and 6 inches in .4125 seconds. Roughly the same amount of time Derek Fisher had to hit this game winning shot. Suffice to say that this is very difficult to do.
If I had Chisholm Jr. in front of me right now, I’d ask him if he knew how many fastballs DeGrom had thrown that inning prior to the at-bat. Did he figure “well, after two straight 99+ miles per hour fastballs, he’s probably going to throw it to me again, it’s probably not going to be a strike and it’s specifically going to be up in the zone?” Did he think he had timed up DeGrom’s fastball after seeing two straight in the same general area?
This was Chisholm Jr.’s only hit on the day. He struck out once and grounded out. Going one for three in the major leagues is an excellent day. Going one for three with a homerun is an excellent-er day. Going one for three against Jacob DeGrom with that one hit being a homerun? Most hitters would take that in a heartbeat. This was also his first at-bat against DeGrom, who was only 19 pitches into the game, not a tired third time through the order DeGrom, that’s a feat.
You might hear about the game within the game of baseball or cliches about sports being games of inches, and to me, this a perfect example of it. DeGrom had a plan and was executing, Chisholm Jr. was cornered and arguably almost certain to strikeout, until he wasn’t. That’s the only run — earned or otherwise — that DeGrom has given up this year. It also demonstrates how in baseball you can hit your spot and still get hurt.
This probably won’t add any new fans to baseball, but it shows that there are entire stories you can find in these at-bats and innings. This will be the first of (most likely) many battles between DeGrom and Chisholm Jr. and I, for one, cannot wait for the next.