By Sam McPherson
One thing has not changed much in baseball over the last 100 years or so. The home run is still the most exciting thing at the ballpark for fans to watch, and nothing gets the crowd on their feet collectively like the long ball. On that note, here’s what left the stadium last week in MLB action.
Giancarlo Stanton continues his crazy HR pace deep into August
The Miami Marlins outfielder always has been known for his prodigious power, but Stanton has taken his game to a new level in 2017. He hit 37 HRs in both 2012 and 2014, but with a whopping 29 homers since the start of July, Stanton is entering rarified air right now.
With 50 HRs through 130 team games, Stanton is on pace to hit 62 long balls this season. That is his announced goal, as he feels Roger Maris’ 61-HR season in 1961 still is the “record” players should target. Only five players in MLB history have hit 60 HRs in one season: Babe Ruth, Maris, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.
Philadelphia rookie Rhys Hoskins becomes fastest player to ten HRs in history
While Stanton may be grabbing the spotlight for his dingers, another player is making a splash with his HRs, too. The Phillies sensation became the fastest player to hit his first ten homers in MLB history when he connected for No. 10 on Saturday in Citizens Bank Park against the Chicago Cubs.
A Sacramento native, Hoskins hit No. 1 on August 14 in his fifth MLB game. By his 17th game in the big leagues, he had hit double digits already. The 24-year-old rookie left fielder was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Sacramento State, and with another long ball on Sunday, Hoskins now has 11 HRs in his first 18 games.
Albert Pujols hits No. 610 to set record for foreign-born MLB players
Baseball may be America’s pastime, but there have been a lot of great players not born in America to thrive in the major leagues. The Dominican Republic now has a HR champion of its own, as Pujols became the all-time MLB leader in homers hit by a non-American player.
He is 37 years old now and not having the best season, but Pujols is on his way to the Hall of Fame. The 2001 National League Rookie of the Year and a three-time NL MVP, too, he is eighth all-time now on the HR list. Pujols is signed through the 2021 season, so it’s a distinct possibility he could approach 700 HRs if he stays healthy. That’s an impressive number for any player, no matter where they’re from originally.
Charlie Blackmon making a run at scoring 150
One of the more overlooked statistics in baseball is runs scored. After all, you can’t win if no one crosses the plate. Home-run hitters get a lot of attention, but what about the guys already on base when the long ball leaves the yard? Enter the Colorado Rockies outfielder, who is on the verge of making some true history of his own if he can up his scoring pace through the final five weeks of the 2017 season.
As of now, the two-time All-Star selection has scored 117 runs, and Blackmon is on pace to score 145 runs by the end of the season. If he can up that pace a bit and score 150 times, he would be a part of some select company: The last two players to score 150-plus runs in a season were Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell in 2000 and Ted Williams in 1949.
Rich Hill loses his no-hit bid in the tenth inning
It was a “rough” week for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they lost three games out of the seven they played. One of the losses was particularly painful, as starting pitcher Rich Hill had thrown nine innings of no-hit baseball on Wednesday in Pittsburgh while his offensive teammates couldn’t muster a single run of their own to give him a moment of MLB immortality.
After L.A. failed to score in the top of the tenth inning, Hill came out to start the bottom of the inning at PNC Park. It only took four pitches for Hill to lose the no-hit bid and the game when Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison hit a walk-off HR to end the game in historic fashion. Hill became the first pitcher ever to lose a no-hit game on a walk-off homer—not quite the immortality the Dodgers and their fans had in mind.