The five longest homers of 2012By
The Yankees weren’t dubbed the Bronx Bombers all those years ago for no good reason. They led baseball in homers this season and not by a small margin either. Their 245 total dingers set a new franchise record and were 31 more than the second place Orioles. Of those 245 homers, a league-leading 138 came in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. Their 107 road homers also led baseball, so they were an equal-opportunity homer hitting team in 2012.
The longest homer hit by any player this summer was a bit of a perfect storm, featuring Giancarlo Stanton and Coors Field. Josh Roenicke hung a slider and the poor ball nearly cleared the bleachers in straight-away center field, 494 feet away from home plate. Here’s video. The longest non-Coors Field homer of the season was this blast by Edwin Encarnacion, which traveled 488 feet. No one on the Yankees hit a ball close to that far this season, but what they lacked in distance they made up for in volume. With a big assist from Hit Tracker, here are the team’s five longest homers of the season.
August 13th: Eric Chavez vs. Ryan Dempster (video)
Chavez’s first season with the Yankees was successful, but it also featured a lot of singles. He only went deep twice all year, but in 2012 he rediscovered his power stroke and hit 16 homers, his most since 2006. The Yankees had roughed up Dempster earlier in this game but the right-hander, who had just been acquired at the deadline, stuck around because he settled down. His first pitch of the sixth inning was a flat, ugly slider that just spun out over the plate and didn’t break an inch. Total hanger. Chavez did what he was supposed to do and clobbered the pitch, hitting it over the home bullpen and into the right-center field bleachers in Yankee Stadium. We haven’t seen many balls hit there over the years. Distance: 441 feet
October 1st: Robinson Cano vs. Clay Buchholz (video)
The Yankees annihilated the Red Sox in the final series of the season, starting with Buchholz in the opener. The first pitch of the second inning was supposed to be a little two-seamer down-and-away to New York’s cleanup hitter, but Buchholz left the 91 mph pitch up and right over the heart of the plate. Cano jumped all over it and lined the pitch to center field, clanking it off the windows of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar for a solo homer to open the scoring in the game. You can count on one hand the number of players to hit a ball off the windows of the restaurant at the New Stadium. The homer was his 31st of the season, establishing a new career-high that he later extended later in the series. Distance: 446 feet
August 11th: Casey McGehee vs. Aaron Laffey (video)
McGehee only hit one homer with the Yankees after being acquired from the Pirates at the traded deadline, but boy did he make it count. New York held a slim 1-0 fourth inning lead over the Blue Jays when Laffey, a former Yankee, missed inside with an 89 mph fastball in a 1-1 count. The pitch leaked out over the plate and McGehee clobbered it, hitting a three-run homer into the second deck in straight away center field at the Rogers Centre. Most of his power is the other way to right, but an 89 mph heater out over the plate is begging to be turned on. Rajai Davis would rob McGehee of his second homer as a Yankee in the same series, but this one was hit far enough that no one was bringing it back. Distance: 449 feet
May 27th: Andruw Jones vs. Tommy Milone (video)
I’ve said it numerous times before, but I believe that Jones had the most raw power on the Yankees these last two years. He homers in batting practice were just incredible, both in terms of ball-off-the-bat speed and pure distance. No one on the team could match him. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Andruw hit the second longest homer of the season then, a solo homer off the facing of the upper deck in left-center field in Oakland. It came on Milone’s first pitch — an 86 mph fastball on the outer third — of the second inning. There’s no mystery or great story to be told here. Milone caught way too much of the plate with one of his fringy fastballs and Jones put it into orbit. Distance: 454 feet
June 3rd: Alex Rodriguez vs. Justin Verlander (video)
Every once in a while we get a glimpse of the old A-Rod, the guy who could turn on any fastball and drive it out of any part of any park. We don’t see much of that guy these days, but he popped up for a brief instant in a series finale against the Tigers in Detroit in early-June. The Yankees had worked over Verlander pretty well in the first, and they led two-zip when Alex stepped to the plate with one out in the third. The reigning Cy Young and MVP award winner showed the three-time MVP no respect, busting him inside with a first pitch fastball before missing away with a second pitch fastball to fall behind in the count 2-0. After a get-me-over heater for strike one and another fastball inside, A-Rod leaned into a 96 mph down-and-in heater in the 3-1 count for a mammoth solo homer. The ball hit the brick wall beyond the fence in left-center, a no-doubt blast that likely would have landed in the left field bleachers in Yankee Stadium. This game will be remembered for Phil Hughes throwing a complete game in the win, but A-Rod’s dinger was notable in its own way. Distance: 455 feet
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It’s kind interesting that three of the club’s five longest homers came on the very first pitch of the inning (one slider, two fastballs), which is probably a coincidence more than anything. They were all mistake pitches intended to be down in the zone that hung up and said “hit me!” I was also surprised that Raul Ibanez didn’t crack the top five since it seemed like every homer he hit was a no-doubt bomb. Heck, he didn’t even crack the top ten. His longest blast of the year was this 430-ft shot off Hisashi Iwakuma on August 5th. It was the club’s 17th longest homer of the season. Surprising.