After counting down the longest home runs of the 2019 season over the last three months we’ve finally arrived at the top spot on the list. And if we all made bets of who would top the list when spring training began in February of 2019 there wouldn’t have been a single bet on who would be sitting at #1. The player who topped the list wasn’t even invited to big league camp with the Cincinnati Reds despite crushing the ball in the second half in Triple-A for Louisville to end 2018.
On July 24th of 2019 Josh VanMeter had a big game in Milwaukee. The infielder came up a triple shy of the cycle on the day, going 3-4 with his 2nd home run of the year, and his career. Jhoulys Chacin tried to get a 92 MPH fastball by VanMeter and he failed miserably in doing so as the third baseman for the day nearly hit the ball to Canada.
The Metrics Behind The Blast
Jhoulys Chacin’s fastball came in at 91.7 MPH. Josh VanMeter destroyed it and sent it on it’s way to the back of the stadium in Milwaukee at 106.9 MPH. It went a projected 463 feet.
Reds Rank: 1st
Major League Baseball Rank: 54th
Exit Velocity: 106.9 MPH
Reds Exit Velocity Rank (on home runs): 32nd
The Story Behind The Blast
The Reds were already holding a lead, up 3-2 on the Brewers in the top of the 3rd inning. Leading off the inning, Josh VanMeter was in a 2-2 count against Jhoulys Chacin, who left a fastball down and in – but over the plate – and VanMeter just unloaded on it. Chacin didn’t miss his target – the pitch was exactly where he wanted it to be. The issue was that it was a bad idea to try and go there.
The home run was the second hit of the day for VanMeter, and he’d add a double later in the game. That day began a week long tear for the Reds utility man, who went 11-21 with two doubles and three home runs in the final week of July. He hit .524/.600/1.048 in seven games to round out the month with twice as many walks as strikeouts (four walks, two strikeouts in 25 plate appearances).
VanMeter has a good swing and presence at the plate. It will be a shame if he spends the majority of 2020 either on the bench getting a pinch hit opportunity for a couple of plate appearances a week or back in AAA.
If the Reds FO and manager do not believe he is a MLB player (based on his (mis)usage last year of always playing out of position defensively that is absolutely what anyone can observe) then they should trade him to another team for a low-A or some other marginal prospect to get something for him.
I can’t be upset that there’s no position in the starting lineup for JVM. If Moustakas is better at 2nd, Votto at 1st, Winker in left and Suarez at 3rd, that’s a good thing. But I like his approach, his patience, his maturity at the plate. I think the Reds will need him in 2020, as a spot starter at several positions and, unfortunately, to pick up for an inevitably injured teammate. It’s good for the Reds that a good hitter is blocked at several positions by better hitters, but I hope he can stay with the Reds until he’s really needed. The Cardinals always seem to have young guys to fill in who play MLB caliber baseball right out of the gate. I want to see the Reds next man up do the same, starting with JVM.
Van Meter was misused by Bell in 2019. If you bring a rookie up from the minors to help your offense, then he needs to play and to play the position he is comfortable with. They did this with Aquino, but for some unknown reason Bell decided he rather have Paraza at 2B. In 2020 Van Meter is going to have to learn to play OF and 1B. He has the speed for OF, but needs reps. 1B was a disaster as he has no clue about the footwork (not his fault). But I think Josh needs to be in AAA and learn to play multiple positions. I’m not sure if the Reds have someone to teach him since that has been a major failing in the past.
CRACK! “It’s gone…”