Hanley Ramirez's 3-Homer Game Exemplifies a Growing Major League Baseball Trend
The 2015 season was nothing short of a disaster for Hanley Ramirez.
The numbers tell the story. He put up an fWAR of -1.8, the only time in his career he was a below-replacement-level player. He hit .249/.291/.426 with 19 homers and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 89.
His walk rate -- which the year before was 10.9% -- dropped to 4.9%, and he coupled that by playing spectacularly bad defense in left field.
However, in 2016, a move to first base seems to have cured some of those ills, allowing Ramirez to return to a semblance of his former self. And in Wednesday night's 10-7 win over the San Francisco Giants in Boston, HanRam went off, clubbing three dingers and notching a career high six RBIs.
Count ‘em! That’s THREE home runs for @HanleyRamirez: https://t.co/CQApJl9KDThttps://t.co/vU0X7apzWl
— MLB (@MLB) July 21, 2016
That pushed Ramirez's homer total to 11 on the season, with a slash line of .285/.362/.451, a wRC+ of 113 and an fWAR of 1.1. His walk rate is back up to his career norms (9.1%) and his defense at first base, while not great, is a giant leap from the disaster he was in left field.
And the Red Sox benefited from his big game, moving into first place in the American League East for the first time since June 4.
Now, if it seems as though a larger-than-usual number of players have gone deep three times in a game this season, you're not wrong. In fact, Ramirez's feat was the 12th time it was accomplished this season. Here's the full list.
|Hanley Ramirez||7/20/16||BOS||SFG||W 11-7||5||3||6|
|Yasmani Grandal||7/8/16||LAD||SDP||W 10-6||5||3||6|
|Kris Bryant||6/27/16||CHC||CIN||W 11-8||5||3||6|
|Michael Saunders||6/17/16||TOR||BAL||W 13-3||5||3||8|
|Victor Martinez||6/16/16||DET||KCR||W 10-4||5||3||3|
|Corey Seager||6/3/16||LAD||ATL||W 4-2||4||3||3|
|Mookie Betts||5/31/16||BOS||BAL||W 6-2||5||3||5|
|Khris Davis||5/17/16||OAK||TEX||W 8-5||5||3||6|
|Danny Valencia||5/15/16||OAK||TBR||W 7-6||5||3||5|
|Lorenzo Cain||5/10/16||KCR||NYY||L 7-10||5||3||5|
|Aaron Hill||5/7/16||MIL||CIN||W 13-7||5||3||7|
|Andrew McCutchen||4/26/16||PIT||COL||W 9-4||5||3||5|
Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders had the biggest power night of the year so far, with his three long balls accounting for eight RBIs. And here is how many three homer games there have been in each season since 2010.
However, while there have been a large number of three-homer games this season, more than in the past few years, it's far from a record. The most three-homer games recorded in a season was, not surprisingly, at the height of the steroid era. In 2001, 22 players went deep three times in a single game.
The big question is, when are we going to see a four-homer game again? A four-home run game is one of the rarest feats in baseball, rarer than no-hitters, complete games and cycles. Since 1913, only 14 players have done it, the last being Josh Hamilton in 2012.
|Josh Hamilton||5/8/12||TEX||BAL||W 10-3||5||4||8|
|Carlos Delgado||9/25/03||TOR||TBD||W 10-8||4||4||6|
|Shawn Green||5/23/02||LAD||MIL||W 16-3||6||4||7|
|Mike Cameron||5/2/02||SEA||CHW||W 15-4||6||4||4|
|Mark Whiten||1993-09-07 (2)||STL||CIN||W 15-2||5||4||12|
|Bob Horner||7/6/86||ATL||MON||L 8-11||5||4||6|
|Mike Schmidt||4/17/76||PHI||CHC||W 18-16||6||4||8|
|Willie Mays||4/30/61||SFG||MLN||W 14-4||5||4||8|
|Rocky Colavito||6/10/59||CLE||BAL||W 11-8||5||4||6|
|Joe Adcock||7/31/54||MLN||BRO||W 15-7||5||4||7|
|Gil Hodges||8/31/50||BRO||BSN||W 19-3||6||4||9|
|Pat Seerey||1948-07-18 (1)||CHW||PHA||W 12-11||7||4||7|
|Chuck Klein||7/10/36||PHI||PIT||W 9-6||5||4||6|
|Lou Gehrig||6/3/32||NYY||PHA||W 20-13||6||4||6|
Ramirez had a chance to join the list, with his three homers all coming in the first six innings of Wednesday night's game. Unfortunately, he grounded out in his final at-bat.
But it shouldn't come as a surprise that so many players are having three-homer games this year. After all, baseball is on pace to come close to its record of homers per game. Entering Thursday, baseball is averaging 1.14 homers per game, which would fall just short of the previous record, set in 2000, at 1.17.
It's unlikely Hanley Ramirez will be the last player with a shot at cracking the four-homer list over the last two and a half months of the 2016 season.