Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Your bright spots from yesterday’s game are primarily these two homers, and comparing them actually proves to be pretty interesting. First, just watch them, and develop some thoughts in your head about who hit it harder, further, at a steeper angle, etc.

Here’s Jorge Soler’s 3-0 green light special:

And here’s Addison Russell sitting back on a changeup:

My initial reactions, with no data, having watched the two homers live and again on replays: I thought Russell hit his further (pretty easy to compare locations), but Soler hit his much harder. Russell’s appeared to get up high into the wind, and, while it probably would have been a homer either way, the wind is what sent it further. Soler’s, perhaps because of his violent swing, looked like a rocket no-doubter that didn’t go far because it didn’t have a chance to go far.

But then I looked at the data at the Home Run Tracker. It turns out that not only did Russell hit his further (391 v. 374), but he also hit his harder (103.6 mph exit velocity v. 97.7 mph) and on slightly more of a line (72′ apex at 112.1 horizontal angle v. 84′ apex at 110.2 horizontal angle).

In other words, Russell’s homer was more of a rocket than Soler’s. How do we square that with the visual of the video? Well, I think if you look closely, there are a few things you notice: Soler appears to not quite catch the ball perfectly flush with the meaty part of the bat – on the slow-mo replay, you can see that the ball is a little further up toward the handle of the bat than you’d want to see for maximum leverage. Also, the angle on Soler’s homer is obscured by his bat as it whips through the zone, whereas Russell’s you can see more clearly. Finally, Soler’s swing is much more violent than Russell, who almost looks like he flicks his bat out. So it looks like Soler’s is more of a rocket.

I bet if we asked folks who were actually at the game, they’d say Russell’s was hit harder.

Throw in the fact that Soler seems get less natural backspin on his balls, and the instinct we have that everything he hits is crushed (it usually is), and that’s how you land – well, at least, that’s how I landed – on an assumption that Soler hit his homer harder.

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