by Steve Mancuso

Aquino HR #3 – Hardest Hit

Aristides Aquino’s Timeline of Punishment

 

  1. First Major League Homer
  2. Obliteration
  3. Hardest Hit
  4. The (First) One Off Yu Darvish
  5. Start of a Huge Day
  6. Kyle Hendricks Tried Another Sinker
  7. Farthest Hit
  8. “A Loud Sound”
  9. Out of the Strike Zone
  10. Adam Wainwright Turned to Look Way Up
  11. “You Can’t Stop This Kid!”

[The third in a daily series looking at Aristides Aquino’s historic home run streak. Yes, we understand the series goes on as long as Aquino keeps hitting home runs and that might be a while. We’re prepared (and hopeful) for this to last through the end of the season.]

Home Run #3

Aquino hit home run #2 on August 6. The Reds didn’t play the next day. On August 8, they started a crucial 4-game series against the Chicago Cubs. David Bell had Aquino back in the cleanup spot. The Reds were facing Cole Hamels, the Cubs left-handed starter.

Hamels (35) has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball since he debuted in 2006 against the Reds. He’s a 4-time All-Star, 4-time Cy Young vote-getter. Reds fans might remember Hamels delivering a painful, 9-inning, 5-hit shutout in Game Three of the 2010 NLDS in GABP.

Hamels is known for his changeup. Here’s how he describes its importance: “It’s the pitch that’s made me who I was. If I didn’t have the circle changeup, I don’t even know if I would’ve made my high school baseball team because it was pretty competitive and I didn’t throw that hard yet. But the circle changeup’s really helped me keep hitters off balance and allowing me to do what I do today.”

For Hamels, the changeup has been like Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth. He’s used it to devastating effect over many years.

On August 8, Aristides Aquino hit Hamels’ vaunted changeup half the way to Paradise Island.

Here is the graphic display.

[Graphic: Baseball Savant]

The Pitch

Aquino had faced Hamels in the first inning. After seeing a fastball and changeup, Aquino foreshadowed the later fireworks by doubling off Hamels’ changeup to centerfield.

When Aquino came up against Hamels the next time it was all changeups. The first was low, in the dirt. The second was in the heart of the strike zone and Aquino fouled it off. Hamels, tempting fate, came back with a third changeup. Aristides Aquino had seen it plenty now. The pitch was in the lower third of the zone, a perfect spot to drive.

Aquino didn’t miss it.

The Hit

Aquino’s third homer traveled 445 feet, three feet shy of his previous round-tripper. This one, however, was a laser shot, at the lowest launch angle by far (20º) of any of Aquino’s home runs. “Landed” is the wrong word. Aquino’s ball impacted the upper deck in left field at GABP.

The hit itself had an exit velocity of 118.3 mph off the bat.

If that sounds high, it is. 118.3 mph is the highest exit velocity for any home run this season. Not for Aquino. Not for the Reds. Not for the National League. Aquino’s home run was hit at the highest velocity for any home run in major league baseball this season. In fact, it was the hardest hit ball dating back to the start of the Statcast Era in 2015 for players not named Stanton or Judge. Since 2015, Aquino’s homer is just one of two Reds hits harder than 115 mph, the other being 116.5 mph by Michael Lorenzen.

If you think batters rely on the pitch speed to generate exit velocity, keep this 84-mph Cole Hamels changeup in mind. (Click on the picture to watch the video.)

The Game

RC+ Preview | RC+ Recap

Aquino’s homer produced .136 WPA (win probability added).

The Reds lost the first game of a four-game series 12-5 vs. the Cubs. Alex Wood gave up 5 runs, so did David Hernandez. That would be Hernandez’s final appearance in a Reds uniform.

[https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1159624545768267776]

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.