Sure, a no-doubt Cardinals home run might be a great spectacle for the fans, but a ball that barely grazes over the fence is sometimes even more exciting.
A fellow writer for the site, Rohan Gupta, recently wrote an article highlighting the ten longest Cardinals homers of the 2016 season. Topping that list was Matt Holliday’s 456 foot hit out of Miller Park. That, and the rest of those home runs can be seen here. But real talk, no-doubters are kind of boring and predictable. The real fun comes from the homers that just barely make it over the fence. The ones where no one knows the outcome of the at-bat even as the ball is at the top of its trajectory. Where all breathing in the stadium comes to a halt, as if stopping the flow of air will somehow help the team put a run up on the board.
These homers, the “gaspers” as I’ll call them, are so much more exciting than Rohan’s list of long home runs that this article only needs eight of them to give the article the same level of overall excitement as Rohan’s.
8. Jedd Gyorko
First on this list is Jedd Gyorko’s 358 foot skyscraper to left field. The ball was hit so high the left fielder, everyone in attendance (from the sound of it), and even the announcers, seemed to have initially thought it would be an easy out.
7. Kolten Wong (356 Feet)
With only 5 HRs in all of 2016, Kolten Wong doesn’t necessarily fall into the class of “power-hitter”. For smaller guys like him, the wind is sometimes a huge factor in their ability to go yard. Fortunately for him, the wind was with him, and in the sport of baseball a home-run is a home-run no matter how many rows back you hit it.
6. Matt Holliday 356 Feet
When people say a ball was “muscled” over the fence, they usually referr to when a batter gets jammed or makes suboptimal contact with the ball, but somehow it still has enough power to make it over. This is one of those home runs; even though Holliday doesn’t hit the ball in the sweet spot, he still manages to “muscle” it out to opposite field. Homers like these are exciting not only because they are somewhat unexpected, but because they also show the sheer strength of the players who hit them.
5. Jeremy Hazelbaker 356 Feet
Jeremy Hazelbaker was an unexpected key piece in the Cardinal’s explosive offense throughout the year. Especially at the beginning of the season, whenever the team seemingly needed a spark, he was right there to provide it. Even though this smack was in no way flashy or extraordinary, it did exactly what it needed to do: go over the fence.
4. Tommy Pham 355 Feet
This is one I initially thought was caught for a split second. Whenever the camera-man gets a close up shot containing both the ball and the outfielder’s outreached arm, I always assume the worst. Whether or not that is a defense mechanism to spare me of sadness, this is one of the moments in baseball I find most exciting.
3. Randal Grichuk 351 Feet
This homer was an absolute rope. Coming off the bat, it was quite obvious that it had enough power to make it over, the question just became whether or not the trajectory could stay up over the fence long enough. This is one of those truly exciting home runs where no one really has any clue what is going to happen. Almost all of the possible outcomes seem equally likely: a double off the wall, a line-out to the outfielder, or a homer that just makes it over.
2. Matt Holliday 347 Feet
This is one of those home runs where you can’t help to sit back and think to yourself, “Really?”. Off the bat this ball looked like a simple popup to right, or even a foul ball out of play. In most of the other home runs on the list the ball looks like it has a chance when it comes off the bat, but this one was truly surprising. Also, RIP Jose Fernandez, one of the greatest in the game.
1. Yadier Molina 347 Feet
As the years have rolled on, Yadier Molina has seen a significant decline in his ability to hit the ball for power. Nevertheless, he is still able to produce the long ball when needed, even if they aren’t quite as long. Following the theme of short homers actually being better than long ones, it’s actually quite fitting that the Cardinal’s shortest home run of the season was a grand-slam that blew open a game in the first inning against the dreaded Pittsburgh Pirates.
Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports