J.J. Hardy's Home Runs Have Been Incredibly Lucky So Far This Year
Anytime a player has a multi-home run game, it’s difficult to criticize his performance. However, that’s exactly what I’m about to do to Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Hardy hit two home runs on Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Orioles’ fans -- and those who used him for daily fantasy purposes -- were ecstatic with the performance, regardless of the nature in which the homers left the yard.
Let’s take a gander at each dinger. (Note, all data is taken from ESPN’s Home Run Tracker.)
Hardy's First Home Run
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 13, 2016
Hardy’s first home run was a line drive down the right field line that had an apex (the highest point the ball reached in flight above the ground) of 56 feet. There have only been eight home runs hit this season with a lower apex.
Not only was the apex low, but also the speed of the ball off of the bat was low as well. With a speed of just 95.5 miles per hour, Hardy’s first home run had the third-slowest speed of any home run hit this season. These two factors helped lead to a True Distance of 327 feet for Hardy’s first home run. In addition to this being the shortest distance any home run has been hit this season, it also would have only been a home run in two other stadiums.
In other words, Hardy’s line drive would not have resulted in a home run in 27 other parks. This makes sense as to why it is categorized as a “Just Enough” home run, meaning it barely made it over the fence.
It appears as though Hardy got “lucky” in this situation, but how does round-tripper number two stack up?
Hardy's Second Home Run
Hardy’s second home run was more the stereotypical shot in that it was hit higher in the air, but that’s about the only way it resembled anything similar to a home run. This ball had an apex of 92 feet, which so far this season, is about average for home runs.
Hit off of the handle of the bat, again down the right field line, the speed off of the bat was just 92.0 miles per hour, which ranks dead last so far this season. So, out of the more than 230 home runs that have been hit this season, both of Hardy’s home runs rank in the bottom three for speed off of the bat.
Now comes the distance. Hardy’s second home run had a True Distance of 339 feet. While it did go further than his first four-bagger, it still ranks as the second-shortest long-ball hit this season. Similar to his first home run, this too would have only left the yard in two other stadiums. Not surprisingly, it also received a “Just Enough” designation.
J.J. Hardy's second HR was calculated at 339 feet. He has the two shortest home runs this season, both today. pic.twitter.com/zf05Nilj6l
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 13, 2016
It’s clear that Hardy got lucky with both of his taters, but just for fun, let’s compare both of his jacks to one that pitchers have hit this season.
Stacking up to the “Competition”
Three pitchers have hit home runs so far in 2016, Kenta Maeda, Madison Bumgarner, and Jake Arrieta with one each, and these three long-balls all have something in common when comparing them to Hardy’s.
|Player||Apex||Speed of bat||True Distance||# of Parks||Type|
|Hardy HR 1||56||95.5||327||2||JE|
|Hardy HR 2||92||92||339||2||JE|
Each pitcher home run was hit harder and traveled farther than Hardy’s, and each would have been a home run in the majority of stadiums. The “PL” designation stands for a “Plenty” home run, meaning it was more than a “Just Enough,” but not quite a “No Doubt” home run, which are defined as clearing the fence by at least 20 vertical feet, in addition to landing at least 50 feet past the fence.
Enough embarrassment for Hardy -- let’s get to some analysis.
Hardy hit eight home runs last season and three of them were classified as “Just Enough,” four were “Plenty,” and one was a “No Doubt.” This breakdown is virtually the same for his 2014 season, with an additional “Plenty” added in since he hit nine home runs that season.
Our models projected Hardy to hit nine home runs at the beginning of the season, but with two already out of the way of the “lucky” variety, odds are he has more than just one more wall-scraper left in his bat, which means he should break double-digit home runs for the first time since 2013.
This isn’t enough to justify acquiring Hardy in fantasy, but rather something to be wary of in case he hits a few more before the All-Star break and has inflated totals.