KC Royals: Did a Royal hit the shortest homer ever?

(Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
(Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

A ton of home runs are hit in the majors every season, and the KC Royals have had their fair share over the years. With such great displays of power, many fans wonder what the longest home run in baseball history might be, but never stop to think what the shortest home run may have been.

Avid baseball fans may quickly point to the now disputed baseball legend of Andy Oyler, a member of the long defunct Minneapolis Millers of the old Western League, who may have hit a two-foot inside-the-park homer in 1900. It’s said the ball never touched the infield grass while the opposing team desperately searched for it through the mud.

Although we might have an inkling of the shortest inside-the-park home run, what isn’t often discussed is what may have been the shortest over-the-fence homer hit in major league history. And with ballparks such as Camden Yards, Fenway Park, and Yankee Stadium all notorious for their small dimensions, that’s surprising.

However, with more technological advancements made in the game over the past few years such as Statcast (tracking technology that allows for a massive collection of baseball data), the exact date of the shortest accurately measured out-of-the-park home run, and who hit it, might be pinpointed.

The accolade could potentially be attributed to a former KC Royals standout.

Perusing home run distances from shortest to longest on Baseball Savant reveals plenty of ballplayers who’ve hit short home runs. However, researching exact dates and outcomes of the games shows only two of the top 20 players managed to hit those shortest home runs out of the park.

The first was Andrew Susac, whose alleged 273-foot over-the-fence blast against the Colorado Rockies April 25, 2015, ranks ninth on the list. However, upon viewing Susac’s smash, the baseball traveled well past the left field fence marked at 347 feet:

As a result, it seems former Royal Lorenzo Cain’s 302-foot home run in Fenway Park is the shortest blast on record during the Statcast era.

On July 29, 2017, the KC Royals were down 2-1 to the Boston Red Sox in the top of the fourth inning. Outfielder Cain stood at the plate, battling a 2-2 count with two outs. Eduardo Rodriguez of the Red Sox had already tossed 102 pitches when he fired a ball right down the heart of the plate that Cain blasted for a 302-foot homer.

Cain’s home run bounces right at the top of the green padding around Pesky’s Pole. Ian Browne, the Boston beat writer for MLB.com, detailed that the right field foul pole was named after Boston’s Johnny Pesky, who played from 1942-1954. Though he hit only six home runs at Fenway, most came near that pole.

Just to put into perspective how difficult it is to hit such a short home run as Cain’s, Zachary D. Rymer of BleacherReport noted it came off the bat at 90 mph, and baseballs hit that distance normally travel around 216 feet in the outfield. Then again, Fenway has some of the smallest ballpark dimensions, sitting at 310 feet along left field to 302 feet in right.

The three next shortest over-the-fencers also occurred in Fenway Park, including one by current Kansas City left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who hit a 310-footer in 2019 against the Yankees when he played for Boston.

So, while Andy Oyler of the Minneapolis Millers might be legendary for having perhaps the shortest known inside-the-park home run, there’s evidence to support Lorenzo Cain’s 2017 homer as the shortest over-the-fence homer.

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Thanks to Fenway Park’s hitter-friendly dimensions, Lorenzo Cain may have hit the shortest over-the-fence home run in KC Royals and major league history.