Free Guide: 30 Technical Analysis Tips

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How Home Run Distance is Calculated

One of the best things for players to brag about when talking about hitting is their power. Talking only about how many home runs they have shot over the fences is not enough, as park factors are big influences over that quantity. However, if you talk about the distance a

Home run distance is measured from home plate to the place where the ball landed or where it would have landed had it’s flight not been obstructed by anything (like the stands, light towers, or even a fan’s glove). Thus, some calculations have to be made to be able to determine this distance and, while it’s fairly reliable, it can only be a simulated approximation.

There have been a few methods that have been used over the course of history to measure HR distance. In older of times, this distance was not really well recorded and old claims of really long dingers are rather questionable. For example, some people say that  Josh Gibson of the old Negro League once hit a homer that travelled 668 feet in the air and then went up to 911 ft once they added the distance it ran on the ground. With no true measurements at the time, stuff like this is more of a myth than a reality.

Nowadays, there exist more reliable methods like ESPN’s Home Run Tracker (previously known as Hit Tracker). It’s a spreadsheet tool that takes a few inputs that account for many different factors that influence a ball’s flight:

ATMOSPHERIC DATA

Wind speed, temperature, altitude (above sea level) and the calculated spin that the ball will have once it leaves the bat. All these properties are used in some crazy physics calculations we thankfully need not comprehend.

OBSERVED DATA

The tracker utilizes an initial point where the ball was launched and a final point, as well as the time of flight and angle of flight which are all input into the spreadsheet.

INITIAL TRAJECTORY

The trajectory of the ball is calculated using the initial angle the ball was projected by and the speed it had right off the bat. Using more physics, the trajectory is built taking into account variables like gravity, the baseball’s spin and wind resistance.

FINAL RESULT

The tracker churns out a final result that states the true distance of the home run.

Longest Home Runs measured by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker

ESPN’s tracker has been working since 2006, so we can reliably talk about the distances of homers since then. These are the 20 longest home runs ever measured by this tool (up to the 2012 season):