The Boston Red Sox is a historic franchise that is filled with Hall of Famers and world champions. So when Mookie Betts did something involving the long ball that not even David Ortiz has done concerning the long ball, it raised many eyebrows – when he did it a second time… Brandon Magee explores the history of players who have hits three home runs in one game twice in one season, as Mookie Betts did on Sunday.
Hitting three home runs in a single game is a feat worthy of acknowledgement. So, when Mookie Betts blasted three out of Camden Yards on May 31, I authored a three-part story on the Red Sox three-homer club. But, the feat is not particularly rare across baseball. In 2016, 14 offensive stalwarts pummelled a trio of balls out of ballparks. The list includes young stars Manny Machado, Max Kepler, Corey Seager, and Andrew McCutchen; established pugilists Victor Martinez, Khris Davis and Hanley Ramirez; and players not so-well known for their home run exploits in Danny Valencia, Aaron Hill, Lorenzo Cain and Michael Saunders.
However, when Mookie did it again on Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he became just the 20th man to join a truly elite establishment – the 2×3 club. With Betts’ induction into the club, what can the careers of the previous 19 inductees tell us about the potential future exploits of the young star?
The list is a fairly well known group of players. It includes five current Hall of Famers, six serious contenders for the Hall – depending on how the stigma of the steroid era fades – and a number of potent pounders of the rawhide. Let’s take a look at the list and each player’s rank on the All-Time Over-the-Wall Ball Club.
|Player||2×3 HR Year/
|Career Home Runs||Career Rank||Notes|
|Barry Bonds||2001 / 36||762||1|
|Willie Mays||1961 / 30||660||5||Only player in club with a 4 HR day.|
|Sammy Sosa||2001 / 32||609||8||Only player in club with 3 3 HR days|
|Mark McGwire||1998 / 34||583||10|
|Albert Pujols||2006 / 26||582||11||Only other active player|
|Ted Williams||1957 / 38||521||20|
|Willie Stargell||1971 / 31||475||30|
|Carlos Delgado||2001 / 29||473||32|
|Jeff Bagwell||1999 / 31||449||38|
|Dave Kingman||1979 / 30||442||40|
|Joe Carter||1989 / 29||396||59|
|Aramis Ramirez||2004 / 26||386||63|
|Ralph Kiner||1947 / 24||369||79|
|359||84||Only Player who did it twice.|
|Cecil Fielder||1990 / 26||319||116|
|Jeromy Burnitz||2001 / 32||315||122|
|Steve Finley||1997 / 32||304||136|
|Doug DeCinces||1982 / 32||237||247|
|Geronimo Berroa||1996 / 31||101||833|
Upon looking at the list, only the final two names stick out as aberrations. However, while Geronimo Berroa is not thought of as one of the great power hitters in baseball history, it is largely due to the nature of his career. In his only three seasons as a full-time starter, Berroa powered 22, 26, and 36 bombs. Doug Decinces, the only other man on the list to hit fewer than 300 blasts, enjoyed five seasons with 20 or more taters and another five with at least 16. Given his era, he was a potent power threat.
However, the rest of the list includes some of the greats of the home run game – four of the all-time top ten including the career leader Barry Bonds. Ten of the top 40 of all-time, with only Dave Kingman not having a compelling argument for induction into Cooperstown. The second half of the list are no slouches either. Cecil Fielder led the league in dingers twice after his one year trip to Japan. Ralph Kiner was a precocious power source, leading the National League in roundtrippers in each of his first seven seasons. Who knows how far up the list Johnny Mize may have risen if not for World War II, as he led the senior circuit in jacks twice before the war and twice after the war.
Mookie Betts, the 23-year-old last seen assaulting the Baltimore Orioles, would lie last on the list with only 51 career long balls. Of course, Mookie has only played in 312 career MLB games, so he is only beginning his time in the majors. In fact, Betts became the youngest player to accomplish the double-triple, removing Ralph Kiner from his corner of history. But the pint-size Betts – listed at only 5’9” – is not typical compared to the stature of the strongmen who top the list. Not only is Mookie the shortest player on the list, he is joined by only one other who was listed as shorter than six feet tall.
If Mookie’s career parallels that of the 5’10” Willie Mays, he might turn out to be a decent player. But, prognosticating the future is a fool’s errand. For now, we will simply wish Betts a slightly-belated congratulations on becoming the first player in a decade to accomplish the rare feat of having multiple three home run games in one season.
PS: If he can do it once more this season, though, that would be impressive. Sammy Sosa is lonely on his perch as the only man to do it three times in one season.