The longest home run at Dodger Stadium in 2020 came in a game that didn’t even involve the Los Angeles Dodgers, nor even the National League at all.
Instead, it was hit in the playoffs by an Oakland A’s slugging right-handed third baseman — but not Matt Chapman.
Welcome to October baseball, where you couldn’t write the script if you tried. (And believe me, I’ve tried.) Here’s how we got here.
The A’s are playing the 2020 ALDS at a neutral site, as part of a postseason bubble to protect against the coronavirus pandemic. The American League is in Southern California, and the A’s and Houston Astros are competing at Dodger Stadium. Meanwhile, the Dodgers themselves are still active as well in the NLDS, but they’re over in Texas at the Rangers’ park.
Meanwhile, with Chapman out after hip surgery, the A’s have turned to alternate options at third base. For the last couple weeks of the season that meant emergency free agent pickup Jake Lamb, who went on an incredible hot streak the rest of the way. However, long-time super-sub Chad Pinder returned from his own minor injury on the final day of the season, offering Oakland a quality righty option to pair with the lefty Lamb.
Now Pinder is the one heating up. It began in the Wild Card Series against the Chicago White Sox, when he delivered the series-winning two-run single in Game 3. Overall he went 3-for-9 with a walk (intentional) against the Sox.
He’s kept it up so far against the Astros. In ALDS Game 1 he pinch-hit in the 5th inning and offered a productive out that set up a later run, giving him a Hockey RBI, and then his next time up he walked to lead off an inning. Then in Game 2, in his second at-bat leading off the 4th inning, he did this.
Pinder showing you why he’s batting 3rd today pic.twitter.com/fRgSj5IHlu— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) October 6, 2020
That cut Houston’s early lead down to 3-2, though of course the Astros held on to win, with Pinder grounding into a double play for the final outs.
But dang, that was a moonshot. Here’s what Statcast has to say about it.
CHAD PINDER— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 6, 2020
That's the longest HR at Dodger Stadium in 2020 (incl. playoffs), surpassing Corey Seager's 447 ft HR from the Wild Card round pic.twitter.com/182GDWKQoK
In the regular season, the longest was hit by Justin Turner, at 436 feet. Pinder beat that by plenty.
And this isn’t just a fluke result in a short season. Take it back through 2016, and here’s the Dodger Stadium leaderboard:
- Alex Verdugo, 459 feet (2019)
- Chad Pinder, 453 feet (2020 playoffs)
- Manny Machado, 453 feet (2016)
- George Springer, 452 feet (2018)
- Enrique Hernandez, 451 feet (2016)
- Jayson Werth, 450 feet (2016 playoffs)
In the last five seasons, only one ball has been hit farther than Pinder’s in Chavez Ravine. Admittedly, that’s a convenient endpoint — Statcast began in 2015, and that year Giancarlo Stanton hit one 475 feet. But either way, Pinder’s blast is exceptional.
However, this was not the longest dinger of the A’s season, just for this particular venue. Sean Murphy still holds that distinction with a 464-foot blast in Arlington, and then a 455-footer at the Coliseum. Matt Olson went 454 at Anaheim and 453 in Texas, and Stephen Piscotty went 454 in San Francisco (but not for his epic game-saving grand slam).
This kind of power display shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows Pinder closely. During the regular season, his 92.3 mph average exit velocity ranked second on the team behind only Chapman, with Murphy hot on his heels. Pinder’s box score stats haven’t looked like much the last couple years, but he hits the ball as hard as anyone in green and gold.
And now, he’s hit it farther than anyone else in Los Angeles in over a year.