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The Indians’ most average home runs of the season

Extremes are great and XTREME and all, but what about the middle of the road? Doesn’t it deserve some love?

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This dark period after the baseball season ends allows for some reflection on the feats of the past season. We analyze, look at what's neat, interesting, extreme. Readers of Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan and’s Mike Petriello have been given fun articles about the most extreme pitches, hits, home runs, and catches of the regular season. They're usually pretty cool, demonstrating the new tools at our disposal for measuring the game and showing how the human body pushes itself to the absolute limit in baseball. We salute these feats and the men that push themselves to the edge. But you know what baseball loves? Averages. On-base, batting average, isolated slugging, the list goes on. Rate stats are the bare bones of baseball judgement. In honor of that, here’s the most average home runs of the Cleveland Indians’ 2017 season.

The average home run hit by a Cleveland Indian, as drawn from the MLB HIt Tracker database, went 397.7 feet of true distance with a 103.2 mph exit velocity and a 28.4 degree launch angle. That is actually below average for baseball, where the average homer went 400.3 feet at 103.9 miles per hour. THey were never a big home run hitting team - pretty average oddly enough, 15th in baseball with 212. They just hit a ton of doubles enroute to being sixth in runs scored. But there’s always an average, or somewhere resembling one. I found three. The first came courtesy of the Indians’ newly minted superstar, Jose Ramirez:

That homer was his second of the night, and traveled 397 feet at 105.2 mph and a 28.5 degree launch angle. It was off the best pitcher that wasn’t superhuman in the American League in 2017, Luis Severino. Yankee Stadium and it’s close right field second deck definitely makes it seem more impressive. It was a little short of the average, but between the exit velo and the launch angle, it comfortably makes the cut without going too much over.

The next one I found comes from a much more average hitter in Brandon Guyer. Here it is:

At 397 feet of true distance, it traveled about the same distance, though it was below average Indian exit speed at 102.1 mph and low - 25.4 degree launch angle. In Price is Right Rules though, he does surpass Ramirez, and there's a certain "averageness" to Guyer anyway. His platooning creates a very unbalanced average, but all the same he does own a career 104 OPS+, basically middle of the road. He’s much better at being average than say, Ramirez, who is proving to be simply excellent.

The last one I found was by of all people Edwin Encarnacion, with the most non-average average home run of the year:

Does it not look like he completely hammers that one? Like, how did that ball survive? Then again, all his home runs look like that. This ball traveled an above average 398 feet of true distance, going 105.1 mph with a 27.7 degree launch angle. If you wanted to round up from 397.7, the Tribe average, you get 398, but this ball didn't go exactly 398 feet. it went more. Or maybe it did go less, there is rounding on, Who's to say. Encarnacion also hit the hardest and furthest, so it stands to reason he falls in this list. It was his 16th shortest home run, right near the middle for him too. Somehow he hit one 344 feet. Maybe I'm underselling just how far 397 feet is.

Three other dingers nearly made the cut. On July 24th Carlos Santana hit one 398 feet, but too hard at 107.5 mph and too low, with a 21.8 degree launch angle. On April 13th Michael Brantley hit one 396 feet, though it only went 100.5 mph with a 27 degree launch angle. Just not far or hard enough to be considered. And Francisco Lindor knocked one 398 feet on May 23rd, but much too hard at 106 mph and too low, 24.1 degrees of launch angle. They're close, but we need standards somewhere in this damn world.

Of the three finalists, I think it's the J-Ram one that takes the nonexistent trophy. He hit it a bit too hard, but the launch angle was so close it's a little spooky, and his apex was the closest of the three at 86 feet. I did so want it to be the averagest player to have the averagest dinger, but that's not life. Great players do average things by accident. Plus he did it against Severino. That's pretty good. Though Guyer’s was against Miguel Gonzalez, and Encarnacion’s against Drew Verhagan, two mediocre to subpar pitchers. Lots of moving parts here. Hard to judge what “average” truly is.

Interestingly, Lindor's average home run was the closest to the Indains' average homer. It helps he moved the needle with 33 of them, bu the averaged 397.8 feet of true distance at 103 miles per hour. That feels right though. He's in the middle of everything the Indians are doing and will do for a while. Stands to reason he should be in the middle for the home runs too. Average home runs need their due - they're still usually bombs. Many of Lindors were. These three certainly were. Extremism can take a back seat. For one day, at least.