Survey: Vote to help determine a definition for ‘Little League Home Run’

Chuck Hildebrandt’s award-winning presentation at SABR 45 focused on the amusing phenomenon of “Little League Home Runs” at the major-league level. Since this summer’s Chicago convention, he has continued his research using updated play-by-play data from Retrosheet and built an online database of all 250-plus known instances of Little League Home Runs that have occurred in big-league history.

This week, Hildebrandt published a three-part series of articles at FanGraphs, focusing on the earliest instances of LLHRs, interesting statistics and oddities about the play, and reviewing the proposed definition for what really makes up a “Little League Home Run.”

His original definition was exceedingly simple:

  1. Two or more errors on the play; and
  2. Batter scores on the play.

As Hildebrandt explained, “That definition reflects the spirit of the term: a bunch of kids booting the ball and throwing it all over the field while the batter (and all the runners) chug all the way around the bases and score. It’s not necessarily shameful to make a single error on a play, because that happens in most major-league games as it is. But it’s downright comical for a team, especially a major-league team, to make two or more on a single play.”

Plus, he continued, “It’s easy to query on, making the discovery of Little League Home Runs throughout history as simple as plugging these two parameters into a query tool.”

But as more research is done, it’s clear that not all two-error/batter-scoring plays look alike, and they encompass a wide range of plays occupying the spectrum between hilarious gaffe-filled boners and mild defensive glitches on good long hits.

That’s where we want your help: What would you call a “Little League Home Run”?

Hildebrandt has set up an online survey to help crowdsource the answer:

In this poll, you will be shown some videos of batters scoring on inside-the-park plays featuring varying numbers and degrees of defensive errors, after each of which you will be asked one simple question: Is this example a Little League home run? Yes or no?

We hope you will see it as a fun poll to take, but there’s a serious purpose to it, too. We would like some of the smartest baseball fans on the planet to help us determine, once and for all, which kinds of batter-scoring inside-the-park plays should be considered Little League Home Runs, and which ones should not.


Originally published: August 13, 2015. Last Updated: August 13, 2015.