Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Three “Tough Luck” Hits
Baseball isn’t like most sports. Every park has different dimensions and because of that, you can get some tough luck hits. Let’s take a look at three tough fly balls from Pittsburgh Pirates hitters this season.
Unlike in most sports, there’s not one defined dimension or shape of a baseball field. NFL fields must be a 360-foot long and 160-foot wide rectangle. NHL rinks must be 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. NBA courts are 94 feet long/50 feet wide. FIFA has a specific length and size that their football fields must be, but it’s not as widely varied as baseball. Every field is still the same rectangle with very slight differences in yardage. Thankfully, this is not the case in baseball and it is a factor in the Pittsburgh Pirates having the best ballpark in America.
Baseball fields, though, come in all different shapes and sizes. Yankee Stadium is 314 feet down the right-field line, but Kauffman Stadium is 330 feet down the same line. Kauffman Stadium also has even dimensions, but Wrigley Field has all different dimensions from corner-to-corner. The left field line at Fenway might only be 310 feet, but hitters have the 37-foot Green Monster to deal with. A line-drive left field home run at Yankee Stadium might even be just a single at Fenway.
Because baseball fields are so varied, you can have a home run in one park be an easy fly ball out in another. One of the new favorite Twitter accounts by the baseball community is “Would It Dong?” which answers the simple question, how many ballparks would this be a home run in, based on the launch angle, projected distance, exit velocity, and comparing the ball’s landing spot to all 30 ballpark dimensions? It also factors in wall height, such as the Green Monster or Clemente Wall.
They also keep a database of all different hits, and today, I want to look at three times the Pittsburgh Pirates ran into a tough-luck hit. What I define this as is a batted ball that would have left at least half of MLB’s parks.
Diego Castillo – July 2nd
During the most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Diego Castillo hit the deepest corner of PNC Park. Castillo drove it into the gap in left-center field, which landed as a double. It might have been a triple had there not been a runner on first base.
Either way, Daniel Vogelbach, the runner on first, scored on the hit. Castillo couldn’t have driven that ball any further without it being a home run. The ball hit off the very tippy-top of the padding. Heck, had the padding been a half foot lower, this may have been a home run.
It’s pretty ironic the other two stadiums that this wouldn’t have been a home run in. The only other parks that would have contained this hit are Yankee Stadium and Coors Field. Heck, if you want to factor in the Coors Effect, with the thin atmosphere, this may have been a home run there. It’s the farthest hit ball at PNC Park in the last two seasons not to leave the park.
Jack Suwinski – June 5th
The Pittsburgh Pirates faced the Arizona Diamondbacks this season. On June 5th, red-hot rookie Jack Suwinski would have a three-hit day. Two of the three hits were doubles, but one nearly left PNC Park. The hit was off of Arizona ace Zac Gallen, who is among the best when it comes to limiting hard contact.
Suwinski’s double hit off the Highmark strip on the Clemente Wall. It wasn’t nearly as close as Castillo’s deep double, and this isn’t the first time a batted ball would have left the park had Clemente kept his number as 13 instead of 21. You have to wonder how many base hits would have been dingers had Clemente kept 13.
Anyways, Suwinski’s double would have left all but four ballparks. Obviously, PNC Park contained the ball, but so would Oracle Park, Citi Field, and Kauffman Stadium. The wall in Oracle would have also prevented this from being a home run, despite having a projected distance greater than the right field dimensions.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – May 9th
The Pittsburgh Pirates are 5-1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers this season. That’s pretty ironic given that they’re only 4-3 against the Cincinnati Reds. Though that’s beside the point. Ke’Bryan Hayes’ raw power has been on display all year, but a 5.9-degree launch angle has really limited what he’s capable of doing. However, on May 9th, Hayes got a hold of one and drove it all the way to the wall.
Although it wasn’t nearly as deep as Castillo’s double, it was driven to a similar part of the field where the left field wall turns outward to create the notch where the bullpen is. That outward angle the wall is at has taken away many hits that would have been home runs had the wall run flush with the centerfield wall and not created that gap.
Again, Yankee Stadium and Coors Field would have also contained this hit. But Angel Stadium, Fenway, Globe Life Field, Kauffman, and Minute Maid Park would have also held this baseball in their confines. The only one it may have left among those is Coors because of the thin atmosphere.