When Max Fried Almost Homered

Aug 6, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) hits a pinch hit double against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) hits a pinch hit double against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

In 2021, Max Fried took home the last-ever Silver Slugger for a pitcher. With a .273/3.22/.327 slash line (77 wRC+), the lefty looked more like a legit hitter than a pitcher. But there’s something that he failed to do in 2021, and in his career before the universal DH took effect because a Max Fried homer never happened.

But how close did he come? Across the four seasons Fried got to hit, what was the closest he came to hitting a homer?

The closest we got to a Max Fried homer


Max Fried only got nine PAs when he made his debut in 2017. While he had a -61 wRC+, his one walk gave him a nice-looking 11.1% walk rate.

On the whole, however, Fried only put three balls in play during his first season in the big leagues and none of them came close to going over the fence. He hit two groundouts and reached once on an error. This ground out that went 42 feet was the furthest ball in play he hit.



Believe it or not, Max Fried actually had one fewer PA in 2018 than he did in 2019. In his eight PAs, he struck out three times, putting the ball in play the other five times.

Of the five balls put in play, four of them had a negative launch angle. Coincidentally, all four of these balls in plays resulted in outs, with only one of them having an xBA above .147.

The fifth ball in play, however, not only had lift, but it also landed for his first career hit. This 77.9 EV flair had an xBA of .540, and with the infield playing in on the lefty, the defense had no chance to snag it.

This June game also coincided with Fried’s best start of 2018, as he went 6.2 innings and struck out 11 Cardinal batters. While these results didn’t extend to the duration of the season, they showed that he had ace-level potential and could handle the bat.



2019 was Max Fried’s breakout on the mound and at the plate. He started 30 games and pitched 165.2 innings with a 4.02 ERA and a 3.72 FIP, which was good for a 3.0 fWAR season (although it wasn’t good enough for a playoff start, for some reason…).

At the plate, Fried finally got his wRC+ out of the negatives, as he hit .196/.262/.268, good for a 39 wRC+. In his 65 PAs, he struck out 16 times and walked five. He also had four sacrifice bunts, which meant there were 40 PAs where he hit the ball in play with the intention of getting on base. Of these, there were eight PAs in which he had an xBA of over .500.

Since Statcast’s inception, no out-of-the-park homer has had a launch angle lower than 13°. The player who hit that homer was none other than Giancarlo Stanton in 2015, when he hit this 118.5 MPH EV rocket to left field.

Since Max Fried is not Giancarlo Stanton, we’ll only be looking at balls the pitcher hit with a launch angle of over 16°,  which is roughly the lowest LA you can have to put a ball over the fence if you aren’t Giancarlo Stanton. In 2019, Max Fried hit four balls in play with an LA above this.

The first came on April 17th, when Fried hit this double to left field off Brewers’ pitcher, Jacob Barnes. This two-bagger had an xBA of .847, but thanks to it’s 84.8 MPH EV and 18° LA, it only went 234, well short of a bomb.


A similar result came on this single off of Ranger Suárez on July 27th, when the 17° LA was combined with a 72.6 MPH EV. While it had a .847 xBA, it only had a .947 xSLG, meaning that despite the high probability that it fell for a hit, batted balls with similar metrics rarely go for anything other than singles. After all, Fried could only muster 193 ft.


Almost a month later, on August 18th, he hit this double off of Tony Gonsolin. This probably had the most favorable home run conditions of any Fried batted ball in 2019. With a 24° LA and a 98.5 MPH EV, Fried pulled this ball 366 ft. With the then-named SunTrust Park only running 325 ft to the RF wall, it wouldn’t be surprising if it went over the fence. After all, there have been homers that have gone shorter distances for homers.

Unfortunately for Fried, a bomb was not in the cards. It just missed going over the fence, and Fried settled for a double instead.


Aside from this double the closest Fried came to hitting a homer was not on this .540 xBA double off Zack Wheeler, but on this RBI double off Pablo Lopez on June 9th. Despite only having a .380 xBA, it ended up hitting off the base of the fence.



After the shortened 2020 season, the writing was already on the wall for pitcher’s hitting. With the universal DH being well received in 2020 and with the new CBA coming in 2022, Max Fried likely knew that if he wanted to hit a homer, it would have to be in 2021.

The Braves’ ace hit like he knew his time at the plate was coming to a close, too. With a .273/.322/.327 slashline, his 77 wRC+ was nearly double his previous career-best of 39.

Fried started the season with one of the best-struck balls of his career, as it had a .534 xBA and a 1.310 xSLG. On April 13th, again against Pablo Lopez and the Marlins, Fried hit this screaming liner into CF at 105.2 MPH. The 371 feet it traveled would end up being the second-longest ball he’d hit all season.

But it didn’t quite get over the fence. In fact, it just hit the warning track. Had Fried been able to get a little more lift, he could’ve hit a dead-center homer. But, at just 17°, he needed to hit it much harder to clear the fence.


After this moment, Fried’s homer chase stalled. He was getting hits, but they were mostly on grounders, like this single on May 12th or this one on May 17th. From April 13th until June 30th, he only had two balls go over 300 ft, and both went for outs without coming close to reaching the fence.

On June 30th against the Mets, however, he sent this liner that had Kevin Pillar chasing. With a 100.2 MPH EV and a 22°LA, this line drive had an xBA of .474 and an xSLG of 1.085. With the score tied, Fried was looking to take the lead.

Unfortunately, at 366 to dead CF, there was no shot it was getting over the fence, and even more unfortunate, it didn’t even fall for a hit. Instead, it went into the box score as an unassuming second out.


Four days later, Fried entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the tenth with the bases loaded and two outs. In a game that likely deserves a rewind of just the final two innings, the Braves had already looked like they had walked things off, but the run was overturned, and Don Mattingly had questionably intentionally walked Kevan Smith to load the bases.

This unlikely walk-off single had no chance of getting over any fence, as the EV of 94 MPH and the LA of 16° only had an xSLG of .960. Still, a walk-off single by a pitcher is always worth including.


For the next month, Fried doesn’t hit another ball over 300 ft. He has a few hits, including a three-hit game against the Rays, but none of these were hit hard enough to deceive fans into thinking, for at least a split second, that they had any chances of being homers.

But on August 6rd against the Nationals, Max Fried homer hopes reached a peak in 2021. On a 1-0 count in the sixth inning of a 5-3 game, Fried smokes this outside fastball into LF. This hit would push his AVG above .300 and gave him a 109 wRC+ to that point.

Additionally, Fried hadn’t even started this game. In the 6th inning, he was Brian Snitker’s first choice off the bench. Instead of giving Ehire Adrianza or Guillermo Heredia a chance, Snitker trusted his best starting pitcher to get a base hit and Fried delivered.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to give Fried a major league homer. While it traveled 373 ft and had an xSLG of 1.310, he hit it to one of the deeper parts of Truist Park, resulting in a ground-rule double, instead.  Despite the 100.2 MPH EV and the 23° LA, Max Fried came up short.


While the pitcher would have two more months of hitting, he never came as close again to knocking one over the fence. There was a 370 ft flyout on September 12th, but it didn’t even reach the warning track. In his five PAs in the playoffs, every one ended with a strikeout.

With the Universal DH well in place, Max Fried will likely never hit a homer, but it was certainly not for a lack of trying.