Joey Bart homer makes Giants history as hardest Statcast-era hit

Bart's blast makes Giants history as hardest Statcast-era hit originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few weeks ago, as Joey Bart was trying to make adjustments in the wake of a demotion to Triple-A, he met with Will Clark for a few rounds of beers. The two talked about hitting and swing mechanics, but mostly they talked about life, and Clark is quick to offer that he still is a big believer in the rookie catcher's talent.

With Clark sitting in the owner's box a few feet away on Saturday, Bart offered a reminder of that natural ability in the fourth inning of a game the Giants would go on to win 5-4. His solo shot gave the Giants a five-run lead over the Chicago Cubs, and it was also the hardest-hit homer by a Giant since Statcast took over tracking in 2015.

Bart's seventh blast of the year left the bat at 114.3 mph, just edging a 114.2-mph homer that Mac Williamson hit off then-Los Angeles Angels lefty Andrew Heaney on April 20, 2018.

"It's just a good feeling, there's no other way to put it," Bart said. "I had a feeling it had a chance to go. I'm just glad to be in that situation and be able to come up with a good swing there."

The homer came one pitch after Luis González took Drew Smyly deep to right, giving the rookies their second back-to-back homers of the year. They also hit two straight off Albert Pujols earlier this season, but Smyly is quite a few steps up from that.

According to Stats, Gonzalez and Bart accomplished something that hadn't been done by NL hitters at the bottom of the order before, although that makes a lot of sense since the pitcher hit ninth until this season:

Bart joined an interesting group on the franchise's recent exit velocity leaderboard. Before Bart, only five Giants had hit the 114-mph threshold since 2015, led by Williamson, who did it twice and still holds the high with a 114.8 mph single off Francisco Liriano.

Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, Jarrett Parker and Alex Dickerson are the other Giants who have a base hit of at least 114 mph since 2015 (The database does not track foul balls, although it should be noted that Joc Pederson yanked one foul into the seats at 115 mph last week at Dodger Stadium).

Bart is hitting just .186 overall, but when he makes good contact, he has as much power as any Giant. The homer was his third this year at 111 mph or above, and of his seven homers, six have left the bat at 107 mph or better. He said he also hit one at 114-plus when he was in A-ball.

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"I mean, he's incredibly talented," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think the groundball that he hit was 100 mph if I'm not mistaken, and he lined another ball down the right field line that was 100 mph. Not that we're solely dependent on exit velocity, but seeing him square the baseball up is good.

"Having some barrel accuracy is good. We definitely want him to have as much adjustability with his swing in the batters' box as possible and he showed some of that tonight."

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