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How rare is the HR cycle?

Last night, the Cards’ Chandler Redmond hit for the HR cycle for the first time in MLB history.

Last night, the Cards’ Chandler Redmond hit for the HR cycle for the first time in MLB history.
Image: AP

Since 1900, a player has hit three home runs in an MLB game 624 times. Only 16 times has a player hit four. Nobody has ever hit five.

The most recent player to accomplish this feat was J.D. Martinez in 2017, still a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time. That same year, Reds’ second baseman Scooter Gennett hit four dingers of his own on June 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Last night, Cardinals’ first base prospect Chandler Redmond managed to hit four nukes in his team’s road tilt with Amarillo.

Redmond’s four round-trippers were different though. Where most players manage to hit a few solo shots, and maybe a three-run dong if they’re lucky, Redmond hit for the home run cycle. In the fifth inning of what was at the time a 4-3 ballgame, Redmond launched a two-run shot down the left field line for his second hit of the ball game. He’d already driven in a run with a single in the top of the first. Redmond managed to reach the plate again in the sixth, and with the bases juiced, launched another opposite field dinger. In the seventh, Redmond capped off another five-run inning for the Cardinals as he launched a two-out solo shot to the opposite field, and in the eighth, Redmond came to the plate with runners on the corners, and didn’t disappoint. He launched his fourth home run of the game; this one a three-run shot. That’s the home run cycle folks, and it’s never happened in the history of Major League Baseball.

On just the strength of those home runs alone, Redmond already had 10 ribbies. He finished his night with 11 in total. Only twice have MLB players finished with four home runs and double digit RBIs. In 2016, Gennett finished with 10 runs batted in, but not all of them came from his dingers. His first RBI, much like Redmond’s, came on a single. After that, it was all home runs: a grand slam in the third, a two-run shot in the fourth, a solo shot in the sixth, and another two-runner in the eighth. Oof! Gennett got so close! In fact, earlier in the inning, Cardinals’ second baseman Greg Garcia made a nice play on the Reds’ leadoff man for the inning Arismendy Alcantara, ranging to his right and making a throw across his body to get Alcantara out. If that ball gets through, Gennett would’ve made history that day.

The only other time a player has reached double digit ribbies with four home runs was September 7, 1993 by Mark Whiten, centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yeah, I don’t know what it is about the Cardinals’ and their affiliates, but they always seem to be involved in these four-homer games. Whiten finished with 12 runs driven in, but unlike Gennett and Redmond, all 12 came from his big flies. He had a grand slam in the first, a three-run homer in the sixth, another three-run homer in the seventh, and a two-run blast in the ninth.

One could argue that Whiten had a better day at the plate because of this. I’d argue that it’s much less memorable though. I mean, raise your hand if you remembered who Mark Whiten was prior to me mentioning him in this paragraph. If you have your hand up, I don’t believe you. The man was never an All-Star, was a career .259 hitter with a career 102 OPS-plus, only played in one playoff series for his career, and only played for one team (the Cleveland Indians) for more than two seasons. Oh, and in the final three seasons of the five years he played for Cleveland, he only appeared in 101 games. Whiten had 105 homers across parts of 11 seasons in MLB. Four of them came in that one game.

While the home run cycle has never happened in MLB, it has happened once before in the minors. On July 27, 1998, Cardinals’ prospect (THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!), Tyrone Horne, playing for the Cards’ then-Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a salami in the second, a solo shot in the fifth, and a three-run dinger in the sixth. To my knowledge, this is the only other time this has happened in the history of Minor League Baseball, and both players were playing for the Double-A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Even more of a coincidence, both players were playing on the road in Texas. Redmond was facing Amarillo, and Horne’s historic night occurred in San Antonio. This got me thinking, “Is playing on the road a more suitable circumstance for attempting to hit four home runs?” The obvious answer is yes. If you’re on the road, your team is guaranteed to come to the plate nine times. If somebody on your team has hit four home runs, you’re almost guaranteed to be leading in that game, so doing so as the home team would give that hot bat one less opportunity to come to the plate.

Of the 16 times an MLB player has hit four home runs in a single game, 12 came on the road. In seven of those 12 contests, the player with four home runs hit their fourth in the ninth inning or later (Mike Schmidt hit his fourth home run in extras). My hypothesis has been confirmed. Don’t you love the scientific method?!

Let’s look even deeper, shall we? Redmond is the only player to hit four home runs in a single game while hitting in the seven hole. As you might have guessed, all 16 times this happened in MLB, the player in question was hitting in either the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth hole for their team.

After the game, Redmond had bumped his average up to .242 for the season. That is the lowest average of anyone to ever hit four home runs in a game. The next closest was Pat Seerey, who finished his four-homer night with a .246 batting average. Redmond’s .813 OPS would be the second-lowest ahead of only Whiten’s mark of .754.

But professional baseball isn’t the only avenue an athlete has to hit four home runs in one game. In May this year, the Pfeiffer University Falcons became the first college baseball team to hit for the home run cycle in a single inning. However, that was four home runs by three different players. The most recent home run cycle by a single player happened in a 2019 softball game between Arkansas and Southern Illinois. It took Arkansas sophomore Danielle Gibson just four innings to accomplish the feat. The game ended after five. It was, and still is, the only time in Division I softball history an athlete has hit for the home run cycle.

Danielle Gibson Hits For The Home Run Cycle

Redmond’s feat is legendarily rare. Not only does it require a tremendous amount of power from the hitter, but it requires an insane amount of luck and help from your teammates as well. After all, in order to hit a grand slam, you need three batters in front of you to get on base. With that said, it’s only a matter of time before we see this happen at the Major League level.


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