Soto’s Citi Field blasts and a look at long homers

Aug. 13, 2020:

Two days after Juan Soto hit a 463-foot homer to dead center at New York’s Citi Field, the Nationals young slugger topped that with 466-foot blast to right against the Mets, one of two he hit in an 11-6 loss on Aug. 12.

Soto’s blast, the third longest hit at Citi Field since it opened in 2009, came off a slider from Robert Gsellman. Statcast pegged the the 466-footer’s exit velocity at 112.9 mph, making it the fourth hardest hit ball by a Nats player since that measurement began in 2015.

“I just want to see how far it lands. It feels good,” Soto said of his first-inning blast, but “at the end of the day, the goal is to win the game,” he told Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. The long homer bounced off a concourse beyond the second deck in right, Dougherty reported. A staffer in the otherwise empty ballpark fished it out of a concession-stand trash can.

Soto’s second homer in the loss, a liner to left, was his 60th, tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. for the fifth-most before age 22.

On Aug. 10, the 21-year-old Soto hit a ball over the home-run apple behind the center-field fence at Citi Field as the Nats routed the Mets, 16-4. At the time, Soto’s blast was the fourth-longest homer at the Mets’ stadium since Statcast began tracking distances in 2015.

The Aug. 10 homer off Steven Matz was topped only by Giancarlo Stanton’s 468 feet in 2017, Kyle Schwarber’s 467 feet the same season and Freddie Freeman’s 464 feet in 2015. Now Freeman’s is fourth.

“I followed the ball all the way. I wanted to see if I got it in the apple. I saw it, and it was way far,” Soto told reporters after the Aug. 10 game. “You don’t even feel itjuan soto card,” Soto said about making the kind of contact that produces long homers. “You just see the ball jumping off the bat and don’t feel anything. Just try to run and try to enjoy.”

The longest homer by a Met at Citi Field went 458 feet last season by Pete Alonzo, who probably will hit one farther before long. He already has the longest homer by a Met in the Statcast era: a 474-footer last season at Target field in Minnestota.

So who has the longest homer by a National? Adam Dunn would be a good guess. He has two of top 10 longest homers of all time (including the pre-Statcast years), but he hit those for the Reds and Diamondbacks. Bryce Harper certainly hit some long ones. Anthony Rendon? Ryan Zimmerman? Adam La Roche? Nope.

The answer is Michael A. Taylor. His Aug. 20, 2015, blast off Yohan Flande of the Rockies at Coors Field went 493 feet and remains the longest homer hit by any player for or against Washington. Taylor’s homer accounted for the Nats’ only two runs in 3-2 loss.

Dunn, however, can still claim the longest homer hit to date at Nationals Park. His July 4, 2009, homer off the Braves’ Tommy Hanson was measured at 458 feet.

One of the game’s top exemplars of “three true outcomes,” Dunn more often than not either walked, struck out or hit a long homer. His two years as a National (2009-10) produced a .378 on-base percentage, despite his prodigious strikeout rate.

Dunn’s 535-foot homer on Aug. 10, 2004, for the Reds, tied for the fifth longest of all-time, is the longest ever hit at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Dunn’s 504-foot homer in 2008 for Arizona gives him two of just 15 relatively well-documented blasts of more than 500 feet since 1969. Ted Williams is credited with the longest Fenway Park homer, a 1946 blast that reportedly went 502 feet, but the evidence for that figure is not as conclusive as 21st Century measurements.

Legend has it that Babe Ruth hit one 575 feet in 1921, but no evidence exists to prove it. Mickey Mantle’s blast at Griffith Stadium in 1953 was purported to have gone 565 feet, but thorough investigations in later years put it more in the range of 520 to 535 feet. Dave Kingman hit one aided by a strong wind (as was Mantle’s) that went an estimated 530 feet out of Wrigley Field in 1976.

Reggie Jackson’s 539-foot homer at the All-Star Game in Detroit in 1971 stands as the longest tape-measure blast with reasonable evidence to back it up. The 535-foot homers by Dunn in Cincinnati and Willie Stargell of the Pirates at Montreal in 1969 are the longest generally agreed-upon homers in the regular season.  Stanton is the only active player to have hit a 500-foot homer. He hit one 504 feet with the Marlins in 2016.

Through 2020, no Nationals pitcher has surrendered a home run that set a distance record in any stadium.

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