Could Mark Reynolds Hit the Progressive Field Scoreboard?
Ronnie Tellalian | On 11, Apr 2013
Mark Reynolds began this season on a home run tear. He has hit four home runs in eight games and through 31 plate appearances holds a .750 slugging percentage. Reynolds brings a much needed power threat to the bottom of the Indians order and he serves as the long awaited right-handed power hitter. More than just hitting home runs, Reynolds has crushed some mammoth blasts that left Tribe fans in awe. One question arose, could Mark Reynolds hit the Progressive Field scoreboard and what is the likelihood of such an occurrence.
The Progressive Field scoreboard has been hit only once in 20 year history of the park. This feat was accomplished by Mark McGwire. On April 30, 1997, McGwire hit the longest homerun in Jacobs Field history. On a 0-2 pitch in the 3rd inning he launched an Orel Hershiser fastball to left center field that cleared the 19 foot fence and the 23 rows of bleachers. McGwire’s bomb struck the Budweiser sign below the left field scoreboard between the “I” and “S”. The home run was originally measured at 485 feet. Since then, the home run was looked at a little more closely and re-estimated at 523 feet. That was a blast half way up the Budweiser sign, but in order to reach the base of the scoreboard a hitter would need to launch a blast 480 feet at its nearest point in left field.
One way to figure if Reynolds could indeed hit the scoreboard is to look at his past home run distances. For his career Reynolds has hit a home run that has traveled 450 or more feet 14 times. The longest home run of his career was 481 feet. He hit this on April 20, 2010 at Chase Field. Over the last three seasons Reynolds has hit only two home runs more than 450 feet. He accomplished this feat at Oriole Park on August 7, 2011 and again on April 3, 2013 at the Rogers Center in Toronto. Looking strictly at his home run distances, it is possible for Reynolds to hit the scoreboard, but the likelihood of this event is still in question.
According to Baseball Info Solutions, McGwire’s blast left his bat at a 26 degree angle and a scorching 124mph; it impacted the scoreboard 70 feet above field level. Reynolds longest home run of 481 feet was also his fastest speed off the bat of any home run at 122.3mph. This hit left his bat at an angle of 27.4 degrees and landed straight down the line in left field. Had this ball been hit to straight away left field at Progressive Field it would have impacted just feet below the scoreboard. This is due to the home runs low level. His 481 foot blast reached an apex height of 98 feet. Given his speed off the bat and the angle of the hit, it would have needed to reach an apex of 107 feet to get the height to reach the scoreboard.
One other factor that plays in his favor is the positioning of the scoreboard in left field. Like a car down a straight away, a bat gathers speed as it continues along its plane. The longer a bat stays on the same plane, the more speed it picks up. This is one reason third base is referred to as the “hot corner”. This is also why pulled home runs are far more common than home runs to the opposite field. Balls hit to left center field typically travel further than any other hits. All 14 of Reynolds 450 foot home runs landed in left field or left center.
Looking at the weather conditions, eight of Reynolds 14 home runs were hit when the temperature was between 60-68 degrees. This is the average temperature for Cleveland in the month of May. The humidity was between 70-85%, also similar to the May humidity in Cleveland. If a scoreboard blast is going to happen, it seems May provides the perfect conditions. The winds were also in his favor, the wind was blowing out to left for all 14 of his 450 foot home runs. The least degree of wind he faced was a 4 mph wind going out to left. This was oddly enough on his longest home run of 481 feet.
A Reynolds scoreboard blast is possible, but the key is going to be putting all these factors together. The speed off the bat, the angle of the hit and the apex all have to match up perfectly in order to reach that height and distance; and the weather conditions have to be right. The possibility of Reynolds putting everything together is certainly there. Looking at all the factors and taking into account that he will play theoretically half of his games at Progressive Field, the likelihood of Reynolds hitting the scoreboard is just 1.9%. This doesn’t mean that if he hits 100 home runs at Progressive Field he will hit the scoreboard once. This is more like a coin flip. If you flip a coin and it lands heads, the likelyhood of the next flip landing tails does not increase, it is still a 50% chance. The likelihood of each individual home run reaching the scoreboard is 1.9%.
It is very unlikely that he would ever hit the scoreboard with a home run but it doesn’t take away from the incredible power of Mark Reynolds. He has the ability to hit 30 or more home runs this season and help the Tribe offense put runs on the board. At the end of the day, mammoth shots or not, helping his team win is all that matters.
Photo: Chris Young, AP Photo/The Canadian Press