Last night, Michael Saunders hit two home runs, and one of them flew out to straightaway center. Reading the comments this morning, I was reminded that Michael Saunders hit a home run to straightaway center - in Toronto - in 2010. In September 2010, Saunders was batting against righty Kyle Drabek, and he got a 94mph fastball in a 3-and-1 count that was roughly belt-high, over the outer edge. Last night, Saunders was batting against righty Francisco Cordero, and he got a 94mph fastball in a 3-and-2 count that was roughly belt-high, over the outer edge. So maybe this isn't a sure sign that Saunders is turning things around. But maybe it is. I think I forgot about that Saunders home run from 2010 because he hit his one home run in the same game that Jose Lopez hit three home runs. Remember that? In 2009, Lopez hit 25 home runs. Through September 21st in 2010, Lopez had hit seven home runs. On September 22nd, he hit three home runs. Baseball.
Anyhow, more encouragingly, I was not expecting to go to Home Run Tracker and observe that Saunders' home run to center last night had a calculated distance of 452 feet. That's a little longer than Edwin Encarnacion's home run to center, and that was gargantuan. I knew that Saunders had hit the ball hard - I didn't know he had hit it that hard.
It's tied for the seventh-longest home run hit so far this season. I know that the season is young, but we're talking about Michael Saunders, and he isn't ordinarily a guy you'd expect to see near the top of such a leaderboard. Some other names around him: Adam Jones, Adrian Beltre, and Bryan LaHair. Who says the Mariners haven't had any power hitters?
Unsurprisingly, it's the longest dinger of Saunders' limited big league career. The one he hit in Toronto in 2010 came in at 417 feet, which is about seven Chone Figginses shy of last night's. It was longer than any of Carlos Peguero's home runs last season. In fact:
Longest Mariner home runs, 2007-present
(1) Wily Mo Pena, 468 feet, 8/21/11
(2) Russell Branyan, 459 feet, 6/11/09
(3t) Michael Saunders, 452 feet, 4/27/12
(3t) Raul Ibanez, 452 feet, 7/28/08
For the sake of further comparison, that home run that Yoenis Cespedes hit to center that dropped all of our jaws had a distance of 464 feet. It left the bat at approximately 111.7 miles per hour. Saunders' left the bat at approximately 111.6 miles per hour. I don't think Saunders' dinger felt as impressive as it was, maybe in part because of the camera work, maybe in part because at that time the Mariners were on the verge of losing, and maybe in part because we don't expect impressive dingers from Michael Saunders. But that dinger was impressive.
Distance isn't something that matters, directly. Over the wall is over the wall, whether it's over the wall by one foot or a hundred feet. Ask anyone, except Albert Pujols. However, it's fun to drool over numbers, and additionally, I don't think we knew Saunders was capable of something like this before. Now we know that he can hit home runs up to and possibly beyond 452 feet. That means something with regard to power potential. The longest home run we have on record from Jose Lopez is 425 feet. Evidence suggests that Michael Saunders has more power potential than Jose Lopez. Jose Lopez once hit 25 home runs in a season. I know this isn't helping to keep people reasonable about Michael Saunders, but when's the last time we truly got to daydream about Michael Saunders? Savor this. And hope that he gives us more games to savor.