Stats & Info: Brent Lillibridge

Curtis Granderson is well on his way to a career high in home runs this season. And, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Granderson also hit the highest round-tripper in the month of June.

Mitch Moreland
No Doubter: Longest true distance (Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers)
Moreland’s June 20 blast off the Astros’ Mark Melancon traveled 472 feet. That matched the distance of last month’s winner, Mark Trumbo. Among players with at least 10 home runs hit this season, Moreland is second in average distance per HR (422.3 feet).

Wall-Scraper: Shortest true distance (Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays)
On June 16, Lind’s HR off Kevin Gregg went 333 feet. Believe it or not, this is not even Lind’s shortest home run of the season. On May 1, Lind hit one that went 330 feet off Ivan Nova.

Moonshot: Highest apex (Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees)
On June 9, Granderson took Josh Beckett deep at Yankee Stadium. The first-inning shot traveled just 364 feet, but was hit 147 feet in the air. It took 6.35 seconds to leave the yard, and rode an 8 mph gust of wind out of the park.

Line Drive: Lowest apex (Carlos Peguero, Seattle Mariners)
Like Yogi Berra once said, “this is like deja vu all over again.” Peguero’s June 25 line drive off Chris Volstad went 344 feet, 1 foot shorter than his award-winning shot in May off Scott Baker. June’s award-winner registered an apex of 39 feet, and left the ballpark in 2.96 seconds.

Michael Morse
Fast-Ball: HR with fastest speed off bat: (Michael Morse, Washington Nationals)
On June 5, Morse took Joe Paterson very deep at Chase Field -- a true distance of 454 feet that registered 117 mph off the bat. All of Morse’s home runs this season have measured in the triple digits for speed off the bat, averaging 106.78 mph.

Mother Nature: HR impacted greatest by climate (Brent Lillibridge, Chicago White Sox)
His June 1 HR off Tim Wakefield was aided by a 22 mph wind gust, carrying the ball an extra 55 feet. Without that gust, Lillibridge’s home run -- which registered a speed off the bat of just 91.7 MPH (which was the third slowest this season) -- would have been a lazy fly ball, traveling 315 feet.

Player Power Surge: Greatest Combined Distance (Carlos Pena)
Pena totaled 4,054 feet of home runs in June, besting Prince Fielder by 27 feet and Paul Konerko by 85 feet. All three players tallied 10 home runs, but Pena managed to hit 6 of his 10 over 409 feet.

Brian Matusz
Server: Pitcher Who Allowed Most total HR distance (Brian Matusz)
Matusz had a rough June, allowing 3,589 feet of total home run distance. The main culprit for Matusz? Interleague play. Of the nine home runs he allowed last month, seven came against National League opponents.

Launching Pad: Stadium that totaled the greatest HR distance (Oriole Park at Camden Yards)
Someone ordered the fireworks early in Baltimore, as Oriole Park at Camden Yards allowed 47 home runs for a total distance of 18,826 feet. No other stadium in baseball came close to topping that total in June.

The numbers behind a catch and a just-miss

April, 28, 2011

US Presswire/Getty Images
Nick Swisher came up just a bit short on a game-saving catch attempt, but Brent Lillibridge (right) was able to celebrate after his clutch defensive performance.

You might remember on April 5 when Delmon Young had his game-tying three-run double in the eighth inning of the Minnesota Twins eventual extra-inning win over the New York Yankees. Right fielder Nick Swisher came within a hair of making a game-saving diving catch. Instead, the ball fell just beyond his reach and the Twins tied the game and went on to win the contest a few minutes later.

On Tuesday, in a spot not far from that just-miss, Chicago White Sox right fielder Brent Lillibridge made a diving catch of Robinson Cano’s line drive to end a win over the Yankees. Lillibridge gambled with an all-or-nothing dive and came up successful. Had he missed, as Swisher did, the ball would have likely rolled by him for a walk-off two-run double.

We asked Ben Jedlovec at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to take a closer look at both of those plays, to help us quantify the difference between an out and a hit. The results were quite intriguing.

BIS charts every play of every game, using television telecasts to evaluate where on the field every play in a game is made. They use a timer to time how long every fly ball and line drive is in the air, allowing them to compute how often balls hit to certain spots on the field go for hits or outs.

Young’s fly ball had a hang time of 4.4 seconds. BIS was able to determine that a ball hit to a spot within a 10 foot by 10 foot zone of that hit location was a base hit approximately 57 percent of the time at that hang time within the last year. So Swisher wasn’t the only player to miss out on a ball hit into that zone.

To show you the impact that the hang time of a fly ball has on a play, check out the chart on the right, provided the day after Young got his game-tying hit. Had that ball been in the air a few tenths of a second longer, it’s almost certainly an out.

On the other end of the spectrum is Lillibridge’s play. Cano’s line drive stayed in the air for just under 2.5 seconds. Within the last year, there were 61 line drives hit to that area, with hang times that rounded to 2.5 seconds. Lillibridge was one of only three players who were able to turn that batted ball into an out.

Lillibridge’s value as a defensive replacement was accentuated by the Defensive Runs Saved stat, which relies heavily on this type of data (how frequently a fielder turns a batted ball into an out. The player who Lillibridge replaced in the eighth inning, Carlos Quentin, ranked last in the majors among right fielders in Runs Saved last season (an indication that he would have had a tough time turning that ball into an out).

Our second chart shows how frequently a line drive to that approximate spot has been turned into an out over the past season, based on hang time. Had Cano’s ball hung in the air for just a moment less, the Yankees, not the White Sox would have been celebrating.