In the midst of blowing out the Detroit Tigers before the rains came for Cleveland, the Indians’ Oscar Mercado hit a home run — his third in in two games, and further proof that the rookie is breaking out of a two-week slump.
Take a look. It was pretty.
Oscar caps off a 5 run second inning with an oppo taco on Tuesday!#RallyTogether pic.twitter.com/8jjjvp9e3S— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 16, 2019
More impressive than the fact he’s nearly doubled his home run output on the season in a matter of two games is how he even managed to turn this ball into a home run to begin with.
Let’s wind it back.
The pitch was an 82.5 mph changeup on the outer edge of the plate from the Tigers’ Ryan Carpenter. Prior to the pitch, Carpenter refused to throw Mercado anything with zip. Other than the first pitch of Mercado’s first at-bat, a blistering 89.8 mph fastball, Carpenter relied on nothing but sliders and changeups to try and fool Mercado. It didn’t work in the first at-bat because Mercado walked, and it didn’t work in the second inning because he actually made contact.
He didn’t crush it, though. In fact, the way he hit probably should have been nothing more than a harmless warning track pop-up. With a launch angle of 36 degrees and exit velocity of 92 mph, Mercado’s 330-foot home run had an expected batting average of .060 — a number typically reserved for balls drilled straight into the dirt or popped straight up into the air.
And yet, he was able to clear the right field wall by roughly five feet.
A replay of the home run shows just how weird it looked from the side as Mercado adjusts his hands at the last possible second in a desperate attempt to make contact. Even as he’s swinging down, the ball pops straight up — and somehow — goes 330 feet.
Assuming no one else hits an equally weird home run tonight, Mercado’s dinger will go down as the one of the lowest expected batting averages among home runs in the Statcast Era. Of the 26,071 home runs measured by Statcast since 2015, Mercado’s xBA ranks as the 144th lowest. But it still counts, baby.
Bless those juiced balls and that beautiful Cleveland wind.