Posted August 11, 2013

Josh Reddick’s home run outburst puts him in elite company

Home Runs, Josh Reddick
Josh Reddick became the first player since 2004 to hit five homers over two games with his outburst Friday and Saturday. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Oakland’s Josh Reddick is the first player since 2004 to hit five homers over two games. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

A’s right fielder Josh Reddick broke an 0-for-20 slump with three home runs against the Blue Jays Friday night. That was impressive, but when he added two more home runs on Saturday afternoon his outburst reached historic proportions. Not only did it take him just eight plate appearances to match his home run total from his previous 316, but Reddick became the first man since 2004 and just the 23rd ever* to hit five home runs over two consecutive games with multiple home runs in each game, a feat which has been accomplished just 25 times since 1916 (see the full list below).

(* Well, at least since 1916, which is as far back as searchable game data goes, but since that takes us to well before the live ball era, “ever” is a pretty safe bet)

That’s impressive enough in and of itself, but the names on the list make it even moreso. Every one of the 22 players to accomplish the feat prior to Reddick made an All-Star team at some point in his career, eight of the 13 men to do it prior to 1995 are in the Hall of Fame and a Hall of Fame argument could be made for six of the 10 to do it since.

The first player ever to do it was Ty Cobb, who, in early May 1925, supposedly declared his intention to “be deliberately going for home runs” immediately before his outburst as if to prove the point that he could hit like Babe Ruth if he so desired. A solid analysis of this legend appears toward the bottom of Cobb’s Baseball Almanac page. Eleven years would pass before the feat was done again and it never happened more than four times over any decade-long span until after the 1994 strike, when home run rates soared and the trick was turned 10 times from 1995 to 2004, most recently by Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner in July of that last year. It hadn’t happened since then until Reddick.

A few other notes: Ralph Kiner and Mark McGwire each hit five home runs in two games twice, McGwire being the last A’s hitter to do it in June 1995, and Kiner doing it twice in the span of a month late in the 1947 season. The only men ever to hit five home runs in a single day, via a double-header, were Stan Musial on May 2, 1954 and the Padres’ Nate Colbert on Aug. 1, 1972. Of the 14 men to hit four home runs in a game in the modern era, just four also homered in the game immediately preceding or following that outburst: Joe Adcock, Mike Schmidt, Shawn Green, and Josh Hamilton. None of them had multiple home runs in one of those adjoining games, though Schmidt had single home runs in his next three games and Green hit one in the following game and two in the next.

Also worth noting: only four men have ever had three consecutive multi-homer games, a group Reddick could join on Sunday, and all three of them hit exactly two home runs in each game for a total of six. That group (Jeff DaVanon in 2003, Lee May in 1969, Frank Thomas in 1962 and Gus Zernial in 1951) is less impressive than the group of 22 that Reddick has already joined. However, if Reddick does join the smaller group with two home runs on Sunday, he’d join Green as the only men ever* to hit seven home runs over three games.

Five Home Runs In Two Games:

Player Team Date
Josh Reddick A’s August 9-10, 2013
Travis Hafner Indians July 19-20, 2004
Alex Rodriguez Rangers August 17-18, 2002
Nomar Garciappara Red Sox July 21-23, 2002
Barry Bonds Giants May 19-20, 2001
Geoff Jenkins Brewers April 28-29, 2001
Edgar Martinez Mariners May 17-18, 1999
Manny Ramirez Indians Sept. 15-16, 1998
Matt Williams Indians April 25-26, 1997
Albert Belle Indians Sept. 18-19, 1995
Mark McGwire A’s June 10-11, 1995
Barry Larkin Reds June 27-28, 1991
Joe Carter Indians July 18-19, 1989
Mark McGwire A’s June 27-28, 1987
Gary Carter Mets Sept. 3-4, 1985
Dave Kingman Cubs July 27-28, 1979
Carl Yastrzemski Red Sox May 19-20, 1976
Nate Colbert Padres Aug. 1, 1972
Billy Williams Cubs Sept. 8-10, 1968
Stan Musial Cardinals May 2, 1954
Don Mueller Giants Sept. 1-2, 1951
Ralph Kiner Pirates Sept. 11-12, 1947
Ralph Kiner Pirates August 15-16, 1947
Tony Lazzeri Yankees May 23-24, 1936
Ty Cobb Tigers May 5-6, 1925

Updated Sunday, Aug. 11 at 12:30 pm to add information about hitters with four-homer games.

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