Remember this time last year when there was a legitimate push to get a pitcher’s Home Run Derby started around guys like Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta?
Despite this being the “summer of the home run” in MLB, there’s no such push going into this year’s All-Star break, but if there were we’d have to include Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray among the candidates.
That’s because Gray showed off some immense power when launching the first home run of his MLB career during Wednesday’s game against the Reds. The two-run blast was measured at a staggering 467 feet, which made it the longest home run hit by a Rockies player all season.
— #Statcast (@statcast) July 6, 2017
That’s pretty significant when you consider their lineup boasts sluggers like Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story, Mark Reynolds and Home Run Derby participant Charlie Blackmon.
Speaking of which, most of the 2017 Home Run Derby participants can’t claim a home run that long this season.
Six of the eight HR Derby participants haven't hit a home run as long as Jon Gray's 467-foot shot tonight.
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) July 6, 2017
The home run also bests Jeff Samardzija’s 446-foot homer on June 16 as the longest home run hit by a pitcher since 2015. It ranks 14th among all home runs hit in MLB this season.
Gray made it look pretty effortless too. He knew he got it, even breaking out the old Sammy Sosa hop as his personal punctuation mark.
Yoooo Jon Gray Sammy Sosa hopped his dinger pic.twitter.com/7fZ6FofwpA
— Jake Shapiro (@Shapalicious) July 6, 2017
Gray’s home run proved big in the context of Wednesday’s game as well. The Rockies would go on to win 5-3, with Gray earning the victory after pitching 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball.
That’s the very definition of helping your own cause as a pitcher.
Yes, a lot of people have already been quick to dismiss Gray’s home run as a product of Coors Field. While there’s no denying the thin air only helps, it’s also worth pointing out that at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Gray is a large and strong human being who is plenty capable of generating his own power.
When Gray gets a hold of one, it’s going to go a long ways, regardless of where it’s hit. And based on Wednesday’s swing, there’s likely to be a lot more where this one came from.
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