We all love dingers, and brother, there were a LOT of dingerss hit in baseball this year, more than in all but three seasons in baseball history. Even the Royals got into the action with 155 home runs, the fifth-most in club history.
But what was the best home run, the most glorious dong hit by any Royals batter this year? Here are a few candidates.
March 29 - Lucas Duda Opening Day blast
The season got off to a promising start, with the first four hitters of the season all getting hits, including this 410-foot three-run blast by Lucas Duda off James Shields. The Royals would put up four runs that inning, but it wasn’t long before they coughed up that lead in an Opening Day loss to the White Sox, an ominous foreshadowing of the season to come.
May 1 - Gordo to tie, Soler to win
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Alex Gordon hit a ninth-inning game tying home run. With the Royals trailing 3-2 in the ninth off Fenway Park, Alex Gordon slammed a home run off Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel to bring the Royals back from the dead and tie the game. It took a few innings to win it, but Jorge Soler golfed a ball over the Green Monster for a three-run home run, and the Royals held onto dear life to win the game 7-6.
July 22 - Drew Butera inside-the-parker
It isn’t every day you see an inside-the-park home run, much less from a catcher. Drew Butera is not exactly known for his speed - he has never stolen a base at the Major League level - nor his home run prowess. But it all came together for Butera in a July 22 game against the Twins. Drew sent a looping liner to centerfield that outfielder Jake Cave dove for....and missed. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Drew to touch ‘em all.
“I think just like Evel Knievel, he pulled the parachute too early,” Yost said. “As soon as he hit third base, I mean, he looked like he was running underwater to me. And I thought, ‘Man, I don’t know if he’s gonna make it or not now.’”
July 31 - O’Hearn’s debut home run
Ryan O’Hearn was part of a mix of young players that carried the Royals over the last two months of the season. While he didn’t put up eye-popping numbers in the minors, the Royals trusted the batted ball data and called up O’Hearn in late July. He rewarded that faith in him by hitting 12 home runs in 44 games, including this blast off James Shields in his Major League debut.
September 1 - Whit walk-off
The Orioles/Royals tilt in early September was a battle between two teams vying for the #1 pick in 2019. But a rough season didn’t mean the players would just roll over and quit. The Royals showed their resilience down a run in the ninth inning when Brett Phillips led off with a walk against Orioles closer Mychal Givens. Ned Yost played some small ball with Cam Gallagher bunting him over, but Whit Merrifield decided to send everyone home with a walk-off blast to win the game.
September 14 - Salvy walk-off grand slam
The Royals played some inspired baseball down the stretch, winning 20 of their final 34 games. Some of them came in dramatic fashion, such as their September 14 game against the Twins. The Royals trailed 4-3 going into the ninth, but an RBI single by Whit Merrifield off closer Trevor Hildenberger tied the game. Adalberto Mondesi followed with a single and Alex Gordon was intentionally walked to load the bases for Salvador Perez. It had been a rough year for Perez, beginning the year on the disabled list, but his home run numbers were better than ever and he flexed his power with a walk-off grand slam to win the game.
What was the best home run for the Royals this year?
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Lucas Duda Opening Day blast
Gordo to tie, Soler to win
Drew Butera inside-the-parker
O’Hearn’s debut home run
Salvy walk-off grand slam