Bombs Away! The 10 Longest Diamondbacks Home-Runs of 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 18: Justin Upton #10 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a solo home run during the first inning of the Major League Baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field on May 18, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Estimating distance on home-runs is difficult to do with the human eye, because there are so many factors that combine to trick us. Shots down the line, for example, tend to "seem" further because they go deeper out of the park. Our brain assumes the distance is the same to all parts, when in reality, it's further - often, a lot further - to center field. They grow in the telling: 500-ft shots are common in lore, but an extreme rarity in reality. Independent assessor HitTrackerOnline.com hasn't measured one as going that far since Adam Dunn went 504 ft for the D-backs in September 2008. 

Here's what they ranked as the ten longest homers by Diamondbacks this season [and, Bleacher Report please note, they are all on one page...]. Some might surprise you - as might some omissions....

Before the top ten, let's mention some homers that didn't make the top 10. Justin Upton's shot to the third-deck down the left-field line at Petco on July 27 = 421 feet. That wasn't even the longest home-run hit that day...by Justin Upton, since his fourth-inning shot to left-center went 427 feet. The same game also included the shortest homer of the year by a D-back, Xavier Nady's 327 foot squibber, the only one of the year below 340. Ryan Roberts' walk-off grand-slam in the tenth inning against the Dodgers was measured at 382 feet. Our two grand-slams versus the Brewers in the post-season, from Goldschmidt and Roberts, came in at 383 and 355 feet respectively.

10. Paul Goldschmidt vs. Houston, August 11.
Victim: Mark Melancon. Distance: 450 feet.

This was probably the most dramatic home-run on the list, coming as it did in the bottom of the ninth, with the Diamondbacks behind by two and down to their last out, but having a man on base. Goldschmidt pinch-hit for pitcher Bryan Shaw. He got the count to 2-2, then fouled off two more, before depositing the seventh pitch of the at-bat into the bleachers. "I was just trying to go in there and battle," Goldschmidt said. "He left a fastball up and out over the plate and I was glad to hit it." Chris Young won the game with a three-run homer in the next inning. But that one "only" went 391 feet.

9. Wily Mo Pena vs. Kansas City, June 21
Victim: Luke Hochevar. Distance: 451 feet.

"The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Wily." Pena had only 46 at-bats for the Diamondbacks, but had five home-runs. They totaled over 700 yards of long-ball, and averaged 425 feet - almost thirty feet more than the MLB average of 396 ft. This is one of his two entries on the list, a game-tying homer in the fifth, which was his first in the majors since 2008. It gets out fast. According to J-Up - who knows home-runs - "That was probably one of the more impressive home runs I've ever seen. That ball was on a line and if it didn't run into something it was going to keep going. It was an impressive swing."

8. Wily Mo Pena, vs Detroit, June 24.
Victim: David Purcey. Distance: 453 feet.

Three days later, Wily Mo would go a couple of feet better, blasting the third-longest homer in Comerica Park history, scoring what proved to be the deciding run in the eighth inning. "I don't know how far that one went," Pena said. No problem, Wily Mo - that's what we're here for. "But I hit the ball real good. As soon as I hit the ball I knew it was out. I put a good swing, I tried to have a good at-bat and it paid off... "I realized they were trying to throw a lot of off speed away, away. And I just [said] to myself, 'Just let it come and if [I] stop swinging at those they will throw some fastballs. If I keep swinging they'll keep throwing and throwing them.' I said to myself, 'Just be patient.'"

7th. Justin Upton vs. Chicago Cubs. April 29th.
Victim: Carlos Zambrano. Distance: 455 feet.

Y'know, I could have made this article "The 10 Longest Justin Upton Home-Runs of 2011", and suspect that no-one outside of Mrs. Wily Mo Pena would have noticed. This game was actually mentioned last week, as it's the one in which Armando Galarraga and Miguel Montero had a tussle in the dugout, as the Cubs use the long-ball to come back from the lead Arizona had taken on Upton's homer - his first AB, after having been plunked twice the night before. Showing what I can only hope was remarkable tongue-in-cheek humor, Zambrano deadpanned afterward, "I settled down after that 'cheap' home run by Upton. I thought he had more pop than that."


=5th. Brandon Allen vs. Milwaukee, July 19.
Victim: Yovanni Gallardo. Distance: 457 feet.

Ah, Brandon Allen. You came, you saw, you conq... Were traded to Oakland, where failed Diamondbacks first-basemen are put out to pasture. But he still makes it onto the list, despite having appeared in a mere eleven games for Arizona. It's courtesy of this monster, described by Mark Grace as "The longest home-run I've ever seen hit to right-field here." Asked if he'd ever hit one like that, Allen replied, "I didn't really look at it, but I don't think so." It was estimated that the ball came off the bat at 117 mph off the bat, the fastest on this list, and tied for 12th in the majors during 2011 [another Wily Mo shot, against Oakland on July 1, reached 117.3 mph, 9th-fastest].

=5. Justin Upton vs. Florida, May 30.
Victim: Mike Dunn. Distance: 457 feet.

"Okay, I'll have the blue cheese burger, a Caesar salad and... Can you serve me up a Justin Upton home-run ball as well?" That's how I imagine the conversation in Friday's Front-Row going, just before J-Up completed a 15-4 rout of the Marlins, with his fifth hit of the night. Said Upton, "We love coming home and we love hitting in this park... I got some good pitches to hit tonight and didn't miss them." No kidding. Kelly Johnson fell a single short of the cycle too, leading to the MLB.com headline, "From Justin to Kelly," which is only about eight years past its sell-by date. Explanations for those under the age of 21, available on request.


4. Justin Upton vs. San Diego, September 9.
Victim: Mat Latos. Distance: 459 feet.

Upton hadn't been 100% for a little while and had been pulled from the game the previous day in the sixth inning, after feeling sick. But our All-Star outfielder showed absolutely no ill effects the following evening on Throwback Jersey night. He said, "Yeah, that definitely relaxed me out there because I'm not trying to do too much." Maybe Justin needs to relax more, since he crushed a hanging curve from Latos, into a part of the left-field bleachers not normally accustomed to receiving souvenirs. The sixth-inning home-run pulled Arizona within one, and it sparked a revival as wet would score again in the seventh and eighth, to hang the loss on Chad Qualls.


3. Justin Upton vs. Giants, April 17.
Victim: Madison Bumgarner. Distance: 464 feet.

This is an example as mentioned earlier: a home-run which gets overlooked, because it is hit to the deepest part of the ball-park. That's "413" on the outfield wall, just to the right of where this one goes - remember, the average MLB home-run this year was 396 feet, so would be a can of corn, barely to the warning track, at that part of Chase Field. Now, watch the video and see by how far this ball clears that marker. Yeah. Subsequent events likely pushed this one out of the headlines too. The Diamondbacks blew a 4-1 lead, tied it up in the eighth, and won in twelve, Stephen Drew driving in...who else, but Upton.



2. Kelly Johnson vs. Colorado, May 24.
Victim: Jhoulys Chacin. Distance: 466 feet.

Hey, it's not Justin Upton! Even by Coors Field standards, this was a bomb, the third-furthest one to be hit a mile high this year [Mike Stanton winning the award in Denver with his 474 ft. shot]. It was a good way to start the second game of a double-header, giving the Diamondbacks an early lead, after they had to use five relievers in the opener - it staked Joe Saunders to an early lead, and he pitched eight innings for the win. Oddly, none of the recaps I could find made more than a passing mention of the homer, or spoke to Johnson about it - a shame, given its impressive distance. I am happy to rectify this lack of respect somewhat, with its high placing on this list.

 

1. Justin Upton vs. St. Louis, April 12
Victim: Chris Carpenter. Distance, 478 feet.

"Just a fastball out over the plate and I put a good swing on it," Upton said, in what has got to be the understatement of the year. This was the sixth-longest home-run in Chase Field history, and ended up as the third-longest by any hitter in the majors during 2011. Justin Upton didn't kill this ball. He didn't simply murder it. As a result of this home-run, he is now under investigation by the United Nations for genocide and other war crimes. From Baltimore, Mark Reynolds nods his dead in approval, as the Fatburger queue gets woken from its meat-induced reverie. Let's go to the tape, and super-size this one, just as Upton super-sized his hitting.


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