The most extreme home run pitches of 2018 – MLB.com

There were 5,585 home runs hit in the Major Leagues in 2018. You can slice and dice them up any way you like, really. Seven hundred and six of them were hit in the first inning, the most of any frame; only 105 came in extras. The Yankees hit 267, a new Major League record, and more than double the 128 hit by the Marlins. Fourteen were inside-the-parkers, and 24 more came off the bats of pitchers. 

We could do this all day. We won’t, though. Instead, like we did last year, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting pitches that turned into dingers. Not every homer comes on a hanging curveball or a poorly thrown fastball down the middle. The most interesting ones don’t look like that at all. The most interesting ones don’t look like anything else, really. 

Fastest pitch: 102.1 mph, Jeimer Candelario, Sept. 7

You might remember Cardinals rookie Jordan Hicks for the record-setting velocity he showed all year, including touching 105 mph. But he used that heat in ways you wouldn’t have expected, because his strikeout rate (20.7 percent) was actually below average (22.3 percent), while his ground-ball rate (60.7 percent) was well above average (43.2 percent). 

That sinking velocity made him incredibly difficult to square up, as he allowed just two home runs all season. One of them was to Tigers third baseman Candelario in September, and it was a big deal, because it gave the Tigers a 5-3 walk-off win.

Video: [email protected]: Candelario rips 102-mph heat for walk-off HR

We have pitching tracking data back to 2008, and only two home runs in that time — out of over 55,000 blasts — were hit off pitches thrown harder than this. 

Both hitter and pitcher were succinct about the event.

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