Notes and quotes on Fielder’s home runs
Sometime this season, after Miguel Cabrera kept hitting home runs to the upper reaches of the center field shrubs that challenged the depths of the Comerica Park charts, the Tigers shifted measurements on home runs to ESPN Stats and Information, whose sites include the Home Run Tracker. So some of the distances that show up on home run this year are going to sound different than those of the past. Even so, they’re not different enough to dispute the fact that this has been an incredible summer for tape-measure home runs in Detroit.
The Tigers had four home runs estimated at 450 feet or further over the previous two seasons. Prince Fielder’s sixth-inning drive Friday night was the sixth such home run so far this year, all but one of them from Cabrera or Fielder, and all but one of them since June 1. Fielder’s the second longest, trailing only Miguel Cabrera’s shot to straightaway center off Hiroki Kuroda back in June.
Technically, the velocity on Fielder’s home run Friday trailed only another one he hit earlier in the year. Still, the angle on the home run made it seem hit that much harder.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any ball in my entire life hit any harder than the first one Prince hit,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I’m not talking about distance, but I’m talking about, just, pow. … I’ve seen that hit far, but that was as hard as you can hit a ball. You can’t hit a ball any better than that.”
Fielder wasn’t about to estimate how hard he hit it.
“You obviously know you hit it good,” he said, “but you don’t really feel it too much. You don’t really feel any ball you hit on the barrel. You have a good idea.”
As impressive as that was, his second home run might have actually been more of a rarity. Just four of his home runs this season had been hit off lefties until he got a J.C. Romero fastball on a 1-2 count and hit it to the sky down the right-field line.
Fielder is a very good hitter against lefties, as we’ve documented before, but moreso for simple base hits than home runs. He was 0-for-4 previously off Romero, which made him quite glad to get him.
“This is my first hit ever off of J.C.,” he said. “I mean, he’s broke my fingers a lot of times with his sinkers. Finally got a hit.”
This time, he laid off the sinker, only to guess right when Romero gave him a fastball.
“He’s snuck it by me a lot,” Fielder said. “He broke my bat every time.”
They count the same as a home run just over the fence, of course. Yet Joaquin Benoit, who earned Friday’s win with a perfect eighth inning, might have put it into perspective when asked for his reaction after the game.
“When they hit in BP you see balls hit that well, but today as soon as he hit it we all know,” Benoit said. “He’s got a lot of power, and [with] Miguel, those two guys are the keys to our success right now. The bottom of the lineup, if they start hitting, we’re going to be set for sure.”