With an entire day devoted to a home run competition, allowing fans to marvel at the power of baseball’s elite sluggers, it’s fair to say that long home runs are a fascination to many baseball fans, both passionate and casual. Home runs often place prominently in baseball highlight packages, and the longer they are, the more fans are awed and amazed by them.
The measurement of home runs, however, has long been an inexact science at best. For decades, measuring the game’s longest home runs was a combination of guesswork, estimation, exaggeration and myth. Mickey Mantle was estimated to have hit one a staggering 653 feet in 1953, and another for about 643 feet in 1960. Several other players have been thought to have hit home runs of similar length, dating back to the 1880s, but in large part it is impossible to scientifically verify these stories.
In 2006, however, ESPN and Hit Tracker founder Greg Rybarczyk began collaborating to create the ESPN Home Run Tracker, verifying the exact length, trajectory and angle of every Major League home run. This provides unprecedented information that removes the guesswork that is responsible for some of baseball’s longest reported home runs before that point. Though other home runs remain on the MLB record books, and will remain largely unquestioned by baseball authorities, they lack the exacting proof behind the home runs of the last few years. The ten home runs since 2006 are not the ten longest ever, but they are the ten longest that can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Whether or not they’re the longest ever, it’s undeniable that these ten longest home runs since 2006 are spectacular to watch.
T9. Evan Gattis, C/LF, Atlanta Braves: 486 Feet (2013)
Evan Gattis hit this home run off of Cole Hamels in the top of the second inning of their September 8 game, reducing the Brave’s deficit to 2-1. Though the Phillies would still win the game, Gattis’ home run kept the Braves in it until late. Flying deep into the second level of seating in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Field, the home run measured as the longest of the 2013 season. Gattis finished as one of five players on the Braves roster to hit 20 or more home runs last year, and helped the Braves to finish fifth in the Majors with 181 home runs.
T9. Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers: 486 Feet (2011)
T9. Adam Dunn, 1B/DH/OF, Cincinnati Reds: 486 Feet (2008)
T6. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays: 488 Feet (2012)
In the best season of his career, Edwin Encarnacion surprised many by smashing his personal bests and hitting 42 home runs, good for fourth in the Major Leagues in 2012, as well as 110 RBIs. Down 4-0 in the 4th inning at Rogers Centre (still often referred to as the Skydome by many Blue Jays fans), Encarnacion crushes the ball into the facing of the third deck. After having another successful season in 2013, he is now entrenched alongside Jose Bautista at the core of the Blue Jays lineup. This home run is indicative of the enormous power Encarnacion wields and is capable of on a regular basis.
T6. Wilson Betemit, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers: 488 Feet (2006)
Betemit saved the best for last in 2006, launching the longest of his 18 home runs that season deep into right-center field at Coors Field in Colorado. Long vaunted for the high altitude and thin air in the stadium, Coors Field is well-known for its home runs, and holds the MLB record for most home runs in a ballpark in a season with 303 in 1999, but this stands as one of the longest. Never a power hitter, the 18 home runs Betemit hit that year remain a career high, making this home run arguably the highlight of his 75 career regular season home runs.
T6. Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees: 488 Feet (2006)
Remembering Rodriguez in his prime - pre-Biogenesis scandal, proven steroid accusations and full-season suspension - hitting a home run off of Cliff Lee two years before he would win the AL Cy Young Award in the Old Yankee Stadium, which saw its final game in 2008 and has since been demolished, seems like a different era of baseball. Rodriguez put the ball into the upper part of the deepest part of left field, and demonstrated why he long remained one of baseball’s highest paid players, even as he drew controversy and the hate of many baseball fans. While in some ways it remains a time capsule of sorts, and the accomplishment possesses the taint of steroid use, it’s nonetheless an impressive athletic feat by Rodriguez.
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins: 494 Feet (2012)
Stanton crushed this solo shot off of Josh Roenicke deep into center field at Coors Field, which makes its second appearance on this list, allowing the Marlins to tie the game at 5 in the top of the 6th. The Marlins would eventually win the game 6-5, but it did little for their season as they still finished last in the NL East that year with a 69-93 record. That year Stanton finished with 37 home runs, good enough for seventh in the Majors, and the Marlins are reportedly trying to currently sign him to a long-term deal. If his agent is looking to get more money from the Marlins, maybe this video would be a good place to start.
T3. Wladimir Balentien, OF/DH, Cincinnati Reds: 495 Feet (2009)
Balentein sends the ball into the top deck in left field of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park in an astonishing display of power, a rare Major League feat for Balentein, who hit only 15 career home runs with the Mariners and Reds. Balentien’s home run was not only the longest of the 2009 season, but also the last of his Major League career. In 2010, Balentein signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan, and since then has shown no signs of returning to play in North America. After serving as a peripheral player in his Major League career, he has dominated Japanese baseball, even breaking the single-season home run record of Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh of 55 by hitting 60 home runs in the 2013 season.
3 T3. Aramis Ramirez, 3B/1B, Chicago Cubs: 495 Feet (2007)
Ramirez hit two home runs in the game, but the first off of Paul Maholm was by far the more impressive, sailing out of Wrigley Field over the left field wall. The second at Wrigley on this list, the park’s smaller dimensions are ideal for long home runs, as few markers of distance are able to amaze fans than seeing a baseball sail straight out of a ballpark. Ramirez has been a consistent power hitter throughout his career, hitting 25 or more home run ten times, including in 2007. Rarely, however, has he displayed the same level of pure power as in this at-bat. After nine years with the Cubs, Ramirez moved to the Brewers, whom he has played for the last two seasons.
2 Matt Holliday, LF, Colorado Rockies: 498 Feet (2006)
1 Adam Dunn, 1B/DH/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: 504 Feet (2008)
After being traded mid-season from Cincinnati (where he was playing when one of the three entries on this list tied for 9th), Dunn was able to hit the 40 home run mark (for the fifth straight season) and 100 RBIs for the season in the most spectacular way possible. Destroying the ball way deep into center field at Chase Field in Arizona, Dunn demonstrates pure power few current players possess, allowing him to hit the only recorded home run of 500 feet or more since 2006 and take the number one spot on this list.
If you were keeping track, it’s also fascinating to note that seven of the eleven entries on this list were hit after September 1. The reason for this, whether due to weather, pitcher fatigue or coaching for hitters or some other reason, is unclear, but bears thought and debate.