Monday night, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres by a run. The Cardinals are now four games over .500, with a +58 run differential, and the Padres are now 11 games under .500, with a -36 run differential. It isn't surprising that the Cardinals beat the Padres in a game in St. Louis. If anything's surprising, it's that the Cardinals beat the Padres by only one run.
But where it was the Cardinals who squeaked by, it was nearly the Padres who squeaked by. The Padres had a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth, and the Cardinals had Tyler Greene at the plate with one on and two out. Greene stood in against Andrew Cashner, and Greene knocked the first pitch out to right-center field. The Cardinals went ahead 4-3, and the Cardinals won 4-3.
Maybe you aren't very familiar with Tyler Greene. The purpose of this post isn't to make you super familiar with Tyler Greene. Greene is just another Cardinals player who can hit the crap out of the ball, which makes him interesting in isolation but uninteresting on that roster. All of the Cardinals can hit the crap out of the ball. The purpose of this post also isn't to make you super familiar with Andrew Cashner, who's a hard-throwing reliever who might one day be a hard-throwing starter or a hard-throwing closer.
The purpose of this post is to call attention to the fact that the pitch Greene hit out was measured at 101 miles per hour.
To be precise, it was actually measured at 100.5 miles per hour by PITCHfx. The TV gun put it square at 100. PITCHfx gave it an end speed of 91.4 miles per hour, meaning when Greene swung and made contact, the ball was flying faster than it flies out of most pitchers' hands. Here is video of the home run. Here is a .gif of the home run, which adds nothing but which allows me to check ".gif" off of the list:
There were two extraordinary home runs Monday night. Tyler Greene launched a pitch clocked at 100.5 miles per hour. Giancarlo Stanton launched a home run 122.4 miles per hour off the bat. That's the fastest-launched home run in Home Run Tracker history (dating to 2006), and Stanton broke a scoreboard. Stanton's was the more impressive home run, but Stanton also hit his off of Jamie Moyer. Greene hit his off of Jamie Moyer and a quarter.
Incredibly, the fastball that Greene hit out didn't really miss its spot. Cashner wasn't done in by poor location. Watch the catcher's glove:
The pitch, which Cashner defended after the game, read 101 mph on the radar gun.
"You've just got to tip your cap and go on," Cashner said. "That's the pitch I wanted to make."
Now to play party-pooper for a minute, what we care more about than actual pitch speed is perceived pitch speed. There is a difference, and perceived speed is highest on high, inside pitches. Cashner's fastball was away, and at thigh level. So the perceived speed of Cashner's pitch wasn't what it could have been.
But the fact of the matter is that Greene got a triple-digit fastball and hit it out of the yard. There's something magical about a hitter punishing a triple-digit fastball. A home run on a pitch at 100.5 feels different from a home run on a pitch at 99.5. This is a human bias, and salespeople take advantage of this all the time, but as long as we're embracing our imperfect humanity, there's no denying how we feel about Greene's achievement. It feels like he did something you shouldn't be able to do. It feels like he reacted quicker than someone should be able to react, unless they start swinging before the pitcher even lets go.
Now, maybe the numbers on 100+ mile-per-hour fastballs aren't as incredible as you want them to be. Since 2008, 65 percent of such fastballs have gone for strikes. Batters have swung at 56 percent of them, and 73 percent of those swings have made contact. That is a very low contact rate for fastballs, but it's not like batters are completely helpless. Generally they can at least foul these pitches off.
But what batters don't do against these fastballs is hit them for power. Tyler Greene hit a 100.5 mile-per-hour Andrew Cashner fastball for a home run Monday night. Prior to that, the most recent home run on a triple-digit fastball was hit by Paul Konerko in June 2010. PITCHfx clocked the pitch at an even 100.0, and it was thrown by Andrew Cashner. There's something about Andrew Cashner.
Giancarlo Stanton's Monday home run is the home run to celebrate, if we're allowed to celebrate only one home run. But Tyler Greene's was also something else, for its timing, and for its characteristics. Tyler Greene might not be able to do that again given a thousand tries, but he won't get a thousand tries. He got one try, and he did it.