Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball

# Who hit the most irrelevant home run of the 2023 MLB season?

Updated Jan. 3, 2024 3:43 p.m. ET

The premise is simple: All home runs are influential, but if you ranked all 5,868 home runs from the 2023 season, one of them would have to be the least important.

That’s just math.

Out there, in the baseball world of 2023, was a most forgettable long ball, a round-tripper that warranted almost zero conversation or brain space, and we are here to find it.

Any number of factors can make a homer meaningful — the batter who hit it, the pitcher who allowed it, the size of the crowd that witnessed it, the context of the game within the larger season — and we are here to shred away all the significance.

This is the third year I’ve embarked on this meaningless quest to uncover the season’s most irrelevant home run. But because I have the memory of a Ritz cracker, it’s also the third year that I’ve forgotten my methodology from the previous year. New year, new me, I guess.

So, let’s jump into the criteria.

Win probability added < one percent (5,868 HRs --> 480 HRs)

Win probability added (WPA) calculates the percent change a given play has on the outcome of a game. The higher the WPA, the more influential the play, the lower, the less influential. We’re beginning our idiotic journey by cutting out all the home runs that had more than a 1% impact on the final result of the game. So, crumble up those walk-offs, those first-inning taters and those momentum-altering long balls. We’re here to get irrelevant.

No home teams (480 --> 236)

People attend baseball games for any number of reasons. Some folks like the freshly cut grass, some love peeing alongside strangers, others enjoy organ music but dislike churches. But the overwhelming majority of fans at a given game show up to cheer on the home team. When the local nine does something stellar, no matter the context, it elicits joy. In Game 2 of the 2019 World Series, Martin Maldonado hit a solo homer in the ninth inning to cut Houston’s deficit to nine. Minute Maid Park had mostly cleared out by that point, but still, the fireworks went off behind the train tracks, the speakers blared and the remaining Astros fans rose to their feet. There is no such thing as an irrelevant home homer.

No MVP vote-getters (236s --> 176)

This is a lazy but useful way to remove hitters who had unforgettable seasons. Hard to say that there was anything remotely irrelevant about Shohei Ohtani or Ronald Acuña’s 2023 campaigns. Same goes for the down-ballot heroes, too.

No Texas Rangers (176 --> 156)

They won the whole thing. I understand not every homer makes the World Series DVD, but maybe every homer should.

No top free agents (156 --> 143)

For somebody like Jeimer Candelario, every 2023 home run was the equivalent of another hundred thousand dollars in the pocket. If Candelario had whacked 21 taters instead of 22, then maybe the Reds would have presented him with a lower contract offer. Who is to say? Me, that’s who. I am to say; in fact, I just said.

For simplicity’s sake, I removed all the free agents listed on Jordan Shusterman’s top-30 pitchers and hitters lists.

Nothing in April (143 --> 113)

Spring is a time for pollen, tax fraud and baseball hope. Even the most hapless franchise enters April with big eyes and a dumb brain. Rose-colored glasses for everyone! Sure, that Rule 5 pick is definitely going to be a Hall of Famer and sustain his hot two weeks! Huzzah! If you homer in April, you are pouring gasoline atop a beautiful, raging fire of irrational optimism.

### The best moments of ‘Flippin’ Bats with Ben Verlander’ in 2023

No D-Backs/Astros/Mariners/Cubs/Marlins/Jays (113 --> 67)

These six teams either made the playoffs, missed the playoffs or won their division by just a single game. Even though nearly all the eligible homers are from lopsided blowouts, any long ball hit or allowed from teams with razor-thin margins could have been the crucial scale-tipping moment. Who knows? A garbage-time bomb could have been the catalyst for a hot streak. A pointless eighth inning solo shot conceded might necessitate a bullpen reshuffling a day later.

Nothing in August/September for the other playoff chasers (67 --> 55)

The same rationale, but with the Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Padres, Orioles, Rays and Giants thrown in. The Twins, Dodgers and Braves were essentially locks to win their divisions as early as August, so they get a pass here.

Game attendance under 25,000 (55 -->20)

If a big fly falls in an empty stadium, does it still make a sound? For our purposes, no. But any game with over 25,000 fans — the MLB average this year was around 29,000 — is cut from the list.

The top (bottom?) 20

Fourteen of the remaining 20 are simple cuts. Here’s why ...

The top six

Now, we’re getting to the crop cream. I’m going to go one by one, slicing these off.

No. 6: Taylor Ward off Jesse Scholtens

Phenomenal candidate here except that a young kid in a Mike Trout jersey makes a sweet catch in the left-field bleachers. That lad is never forgetting this homer.

No. 5: Jordan Díaz off Zach Logue

More fan participation. Even though less than 1% of the 15,149 humans at this game had ever heard of Díaz, it only takes one frustrated fan to chuck a home run ball back onto the field. Also, homering to the opposite field in Detroit as a right-handed hitter during Miguel Cabrera’s final season in front of the future Hall of Famer is unique enough for our exercise.

No. 4: Logan O’Hoppe off Spencer Patton

It’s tempting to disregard Oakland’s disastrous, tragic, catastrophic and embarrassingly self-inflicted garbage fire of a season. But the Athletics' 2023 season deserves to be remembered for that exact reason: It represents the unsatisfying and shameful beginning of an end to the magnificent era of big-league ball in the East Bay. And the Oakland Coliseum, in all its decrepit glory, was the host for this horror show. For that reason, any dinger hit this season at that cement behemoth dodges the "most irrelevant" label. Congrats, A’s fans.

No. 3: Andrew Knizner off Bailey Falter

One of the more delightful, heartwarming storylines of the MLB season was the emergence of the Palacios brothers, Josh and Richie. And when the two Brooklyn-raised hitters’ teams faced off in August, their parents were on hand to witness the moment. What does this have to do with Andrew Knizner or Bailey Falter, or this home run? Well, the Palacios parents were being interviewed on the broadcast during Knizner’s moonshot long ball against Falter. The dinger happening mid-interview isn’t the rarest occurrence, but it always creates a hilarious situation for the sideline reporter tasked with fitting in the home run call. Good stuff.

No. 2: Riley Greene off Thaddeus Ward

This has all the makings of an irrelevant king, including the blowout scoreline between two middling teams at a sparsely attended game in early May. Unfortunately, Greene hit this ball just a bit too high (40 degree launch angle) and a bit too hard (110 mph exit velocity) for me to altogether forget it. The moment that will stick with me the most, however, is Nationals right fielder Lane Thomas craning his neck up towards the ball as it inches over the wall.

Why?

Because Thomas knew the truth.

No. 1: Lane Thomas off Tristan Beck