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The Worst Home Run of 2021

Homers are fun. We here at The Lefty Catcher love home runs. Whether it’s launched nearly 500 feet:

Or completely flips the complexion of a World Series:

They could be the best part of baseball.

But out of the 5,944 homers hit in 2021, one of them had to be the worst, right?

I’m not just talking about irrelevant (Fox Sports already covered that), I’m talking about the worst. The one with a WPA (win probability added) as close to .000 as we can get while also having an XBA (expected batting average) close to .000.

According to Fox Sports’ findings, this Miguel Rojas homer had the lowest overall impact on the season:

But this one was pretty earned, even for Coors Field. With a 101.6 exit velocity (EV) and a 24-degree launch angle, this ball had a .674 xBA. That’s too well struck for the purposes of this article. Let’s find a better example.

Here’s a homer that had a .011 XBA. It only went 359 feet and was hit by Ronald Torreyes, a guy who only hit 7 homers all year. It was also in a game played by two teams who didn’t make the playoffs. That has to be pretty meaningless, right?

Well, not exactly. This was only June 1, and while both teams are under .500, they’re not the Orioles or Pirates.

It’s also a close game. Torreyes’ homer brings the Phillies within one in a game they’d win handily (the Torreyes homer had a .096 WPA).

Unfortunately, despite being a cheap homer by XBA, it was pretty meaningful to the game and hard to call it the worst. Let’s keep looking.

Next up is another homer with an XBA of .011 also against the Reds. Unfortunately, it has the same issue of the Torreyes homer: it’s too impactful to the game.

The Dodgers are still vying to catch up to the Giants for the division lead (something they ultimately fail at). They need to win every game they can, and this Will Smith homer gives the Dodgers an early lead they won’t give up:

With a .100 WPA, Smith’s homer is even more meaningful than Torreyes’. On to the next.

This 343-foot homer also has an XBA of .011 but does not involve the Reds this time. Unfortunately, this Kyle Seager homer had a WPA of .173 (not good, we’re going further in the wrong direction):

We’re 0-3 with 3 strikeouts so far. Let’s not go for the golden sombrero.

This next home run is already in a class of its own. It’s against an embarrassingly bad Orioles team. It has an XBA of .017 (which is higher, but different). It has a launch angle of 50 degrees (FIFTY!!), which was the only such homer all season.

It also only makes a big lead bigger. This has to be it, right?

Not quite. Because it’s early in the game, it has a .041 WPA, which is small, but not nothing. We want our WPA to be as close to .000 as possible. Also, Bogaerts smashed this—it had an exit velocity of 102.3. None of the other homers we looked at so far had an EV of even 96 MPH.

I’m not going to call this a strikeout because we did get closer (so no golden sombrero for us, yet), but we’re now 0-4. On to the next.

The game is the Blue Jays versus the Astros. The Astros went all the way to the World Series while the Blue Jays were eliminated on the final day of the season.

This Danny Jansen .020 XBA homer (the Crawford Box special) also brought the Jays within one, giving it a .100 WPA. Ugh. Another strikeout. We have a golden sombrero now.

This one might do it. The Dodgers are already up 5-0 against the Brewers. The .023 XBA grand slam puts the game completely out of reach.

But the WPA is too high, just like the Bogaerts homer. This is a product of the game only being in the 2nd. If someone hit a homer like this after the Beaty grand slam, maybe it could have been our winner. Sadly, it’s not. We’re getting into grave territory. We’re 0-6.

Another grand slam. Have we found our white whale??

The Blue Jays are up 4-0 in the ninth against the Yankees. It only had an XBA of .023. This puts the game completely out of reach. But was it far enough out of reach when Semien came to the plate?

.014 WPA! Very little impact. Even better, the game ends five batters later. But is this the worst homer of the year?

Not quite. I’m counting this as a hit—we’re not going 0-7—but there’s another homer we should look at.

It’s the beginning of the season. The Orioles are losing 7-0 to the Yankees in the 9th. With two outs, Ryan Mountcastle singles on a groundball to short. Four pitches later, Rio Ruiz hits this:

It is, by all measures, a terrible homer. It has an XBA of just .023. He doesn’t hit it hard (96.5 EV). It sneaks over the fence, only traveling 342 feet. It has no impact on the game. Literally.

The WPA for this homer is .000, we’ve found perfection. Rio Ruiz is the perfect embodiment for the bad homer, too. He had a 37 wRC+ and -.4 fWAR in 141 plate appearances, and he hit only 3 homers all year, so no matter how much we tease, he’ll take it.

Congrats, Rio, we hope you take the first ever Lefty Catcher Worst Homer of the Year Award to Korea and make us proud!

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