Pitchers who homered in relief

Gustavo Chacin / Icon SMI

You’d think that relief pitchers don’t homer all that often. Depending on how you define “often”, you might be wrong.

Here are the last 20 times that a relief pitcher has homered in a game:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA HR RBI
1 Gustavo Chacin 2010-05-31 HOU WSN L 4-14 1 1 1
2 Micah Owings 2010-05-07 CIN CHC L 7-14 2 1 2
3 Russ Ortiz 2009-05-19 HOU MIL L 2-4 1 1 1
4 Mark Worrell 2008-06-05 (2) STL WSN L 9-10 1 1 3
5 Carlos Marmol 2006-09-07 CHC PIT L 5-7 1 1 1
6 Jorge Sosa 2006-07-17 ATL STL W 15-3 1 1 1
7 Adam Wainwright 2006-05-24 STL SFG W 10-4 2 1 1
8 Randy Keisler 2005-06-07 CIN TBD W 9-7 3 1 1
9 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-09-12 MIL SFG L 2-8 1 1 1
10 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-08-06 MIL ATL L 2-10 1 1 2
11 Guillermo Mota 2003-07-13 LAD COL W 9-3 1 1 1
12 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-05-12 MIL CHC L 5-11 1 1 2
13 Mike Matthews 2001-08-21 STL CIN W 11-6 1 1 1
14 Omar Olivares 2001-06-29 PIT MON L 3-12 1 1 2
15 Danny Graves 2001-06-21 CIN HOU W 8-7 1 1 2
16 Felipe Lira 2000-07-08 MON TOR L 3-6 1 1 1
17 Gabe White 2000-06-10 COL TEX W 12-6 1 1 1
18 Keith Osik 2000-05-20 PIT STL L 4-19 2 1 2
19 Danny Graves 2000-05-12 CIN HOU W 7-3 1 1 1
20 Guillermo Mota 1999-06-09 MON BOS W 13-1 1 1 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/23/2012.

As you might expect, a fair number of these were guys brought in early to games, as typical relief appearances rarely result in a plate appearance.

Eagle-eyes readers will pick out the names of Micah Owings and Brooks Kieschnick, both of whom have hit very well for pitchers (or players who pitch, in Kieschnick’s case.)

Neat that Danny Graves appears twice as well.

Going back to 1919, here are the pitchers with the most different games homering as a relief pitcher:

Rk Player #Matching PA HR RBI
1 Mickey McDermott 6 Ind. Games 10 6 7
2 Chad Kimsey 6 Ind. Games 10 6 8
3 Ken Tatum 4 Ind. Games 5 4 6
4 Lou Sleater 4 Ind. Games 6 4 8
5 Dixie Howell 4 Ind. Games 6 5 6
6 Clint Hartung 4 Ind. Games 6 4 6
7 Tommy Byrne 4 Ind. Games 8 4 7
8 Ralph Winegarner 3 Ind. Games 5 3 4
9 Jim Tobin 3 Ind. Games 7 3 6
10 Schoolboy Rowe 3 Ind. Games 4 3 5
11 Don Robinson 3 Ind. Games 3 3 6
12 Lynn Nelson 3 Ind. Games 7 3 8
13 Cal McLish 3 Ind. Games 10 3 6
14 Bob Lemon 3 Ind. Games 5 3 4
15 Brooks Kieschnick 3 Ind. Games 3 3 5
16 Chief Hogsett 3 Ind. Games 4 3 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/23/2012.

Graves is tied with a bunch of other guys for 2 such games.


Comments

Pitchers who homered in relief — 59 Comments

  1. I expected some Kieschnick domination, and I wasn’t disappointed.

    I know he wasn’t a great player, but he WAS utterly unique for this era.

    • Smithyy — That was a hilarious game (July 4, 1985), with Camp’s prints all over it. But Camp’s HR came in the 18th, tying the game after he had allowed the go-ahead run in the top half (abetted by his 2-base error on a sac bunt attempt). In the top of the 19th, the Mets scored 5 times off Camp. In the last of the 19th, the Braves scored 2 and got the tying run to the plate, in the form of — yep — Rick Camp. But Ron Darling struck him out, and the Mets won.

      And then the July 4 fireworks went off, at about 3 in the morning….

  2. Can someone do a play index search for the relievers to homer twice in a game? If I did the search right, there’s four, but that’s all I get without a subscription

  3. Dave Hoskins has the highest game batting WPA of any relief pitcher.

    On May 10, 1953, Hoskins pinch-hit for Bob Feller with Cleveland trailing the Browns 3-0 in the 7th. It was just the 3rd MLB game for the 27-year-old Hoskins, a veteran of the Negro Leagues. Hoskins doubled then, but was stranded. After Hoskins pitched a scoreless bottom half, Al Rosen homered in the 8th to make it 3-1, and with 2 out, Hoskins hit a 3-run HR off Virgil Trucks for a 4-3 lead. Hoskins struck out the side in the 8th, and Cleveland tacked on 8 more runs in their 9th (including a Hoskins RBI groundout), and Hoskins retired the side in the 9th (the last out made by Dixie Upright!) for a 12-3 final.

    Hoskins got the win with 3 scoreless innings. His WPA for pitching was .156; for hitting, .582. It was the only HR of what turned out to be a short career.

    It’s one of 16 searchable games in which a reliever had a HR and another extra-base hit. The last to do that was Randy Keisler, game #8 on Andy’s first list.

  4. #2 on the RP game WPA leader board is Gene Conley. On July 6, 1960 — about 2 months after helping the Celtics knock off Wilt Chamberlain in the semis and then Bob Pettit in the finals for the 2nd of what would become a record 8 straight NBA titles (4 of them with Conley) — Conley came on to retire the side in order in the last of the 9th for the Phillies in a 5-5 game against Milwaukee.

    Philly’s Joe Morgan (the future BoSox manager) led off the 10th with a double, but the next 2 men went out harmlessly. With Conley on deck, Don McMahon intentionally walked backup catcher Cal Neeman (career .224 BA). Conley hit a 3-run HR, then went out and retired Del Crandall and fanned Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron to seal the win.

    Pitching WPA, .158; batting, .485.

  5. I saw Don Robinson hit a homer to score the go-ahead run, in the game that clinched the Western Division for the Giants in 1987. I had just told my buddy that the Padre pitcher had better not give Caveman something good to hit, and BOOM! Over the left-center field wall!

    • Sept. 30, 1984, doubleheader season finale: Don Robinson saves the opener with a perfect inning, fanning Samuel, Hayes and Schmidt. Then he starts the nightcap — in LF, batting 3rd — and goes 1 for 3 with an RBI single and handles 2 chances without error.

  6. No Wes Ferrell (mainly a starter, but 50+ games in relief)? Wes could rake. Babe Ruth only pitched 16 games in relief; he could rake a bit too. Amazing, he led the league in ERA in 1916.

    • Ferrell had 2 games in which he homered while pitching in relief. He also had one as a PH, a 3-run walk-off HR off Tommy Bridges on 7/21/35. The following day he was the starting pitcher and hit another walk-off HR. Two starts later he hit 2 more HRs givinhg him 4 HRs in 11 AB. Not bad.

  7. Keith Osik caught my eye as a long-suffering Pirates fan — I recall him as a backup catcher, so he’s not an Owings or a Kieschnick, but this was anything but a garden variety long relief appearance, either. Clicking on the box, it looks like Osik came in to play 3rd as part of a triple switch in the top of the 8th of a blowout, he came to bat and homered in the bottom of the 8th (to cut the lead to 14-3, heh), and they left him in to pitch the 9th (he completed the inning, 5 runs, 5 hits, no errors).

    • Osik pitched an inning in another game, allowing 4 ER. His 40.50 career ERA is 2nd-highest ever among those with at least 2 innings.

      All hail Paul Janish, owner of the 49.50 ERA in 2 IP over 2 games. May his strikeout victims J.J. Hardy, Chris Duffy and Pedro Feliz never live it down!

    • Osik jumped out at me also, in that he was a Catcher. But nice job on reporting the game results as Osik was actually the 3rd baseman when he hit the HR, not the relief pitcher.

    • Keith Osik is one of my favorite players of recent years. Despite being a career backup catcher, there are still several interesting quirks to be found in his history…

      The guy loved playing against the Cardinals. Look at his splits and HR Log… not bad for a light hitting backup catcher…

      He and Jason Kendall were the primary catching tandem in Pittsburgh for seven seasons. How many catching duos have stayed together that long in the past two decades?

      When he left for Milwaukee in 2003, he and Eddie Perez caught every inning for the team that season. I had heard at the time, though I’ve been unable to validate anywhere, that it had been a long time since an MLB team had managed to go an entire season having only two players do all of the catching…

      • Ev, I enjoyed your Osik notes. But you were misled about the rarity of using just 2 catchers in a season. It happens just about every year, with an average of 2 teams per year over the past decade.

        Before the 2003 Brewers, the 2002 Expos (Michael Barrett & Brian Schneider). Afterwards, it’s happened in every year save 2010.

      • Heard an Osik story recently from a fellow L.I. travel coach. He said Osik only took up catching due to the LSU catcher going down with an injury. Apparently, it was a position he rarely played growing up.

  8. Lou Sleater and Brooks Kieschnick are the leaders in most games homering in one season. Kieschnick had 3 games in 2003 (first list) and Sleater had 3 games in 1957.

    • Kieschnick’s 2003 season is quite unusual. In addition to 3 HR as a reliver, he also had 2 pinch-hit HR and 2 HR as a DH. In all, 7 HR in only 76 PA. If he had hit like that earlier in his career, he might not have been converted to a pitcher.

        • But, Kieschnick earned 0.689 WPA for his two PH home-runs. He had 10th inning lead-off shot to provide the eventual winning run on June 25, and a 9th inning 2-run shot on Sep 17 to tie a game the Brewers would go on to win.

  9. Lou Sleater, Chad Kimsey, Dixie Howell, Tommy Byrne and Ted Blankenship have homered in consecutive appearances as a reliever when having a PA. Kimsey has two such streaks.

  10. Hugh East and Harry Feldman each homered as relievers for the Giants against the Cubs on May 1, 1942.

    Relievers on opposing teams have each homered in these games.
    – May 30, 1957, As (Mickey McDermott) vs Tigers (Lou Sleater)
    – June 14, 1935, Senators (Ed Linke) vs White Sox (Jack Salveson)
    – Sep 11, 1921, Indians (Ray Caldwell) vs Browns (Elam Vangilder)

  11. So, I sort of expected Babe Ruth to show up in this list but maybe (a) he was a starting pitcher, or (b) he didn’t find his hitting ability until later.

    • Ruth pitched in 163 games and 147 of them were starts, leaving only 16 relief appearances. Because most of them came before 1919 we can’t get the box score data, but chances are he had very few plate appearances as a relief pitcher. It’s also true that if he homered prior to 1919 in such circumstances, our search wouldn’t have found it.

      Ruth had pretty decent power right from the start, hitting 20 HR in 785 PAs over his first 5 years in the bigs (1914-1918). That pales in comparison to his HR frequency later, but was still quite large for that era.

      • Ruth did not homer in 2 relief appearances in 1919, and one appearance in 1921.

        Ruth homered as a starter 3 times in 15 games in 1919, twice in his lone start of 1921, and once in his lone start of 1933.

      • Actually the Babe was better than those numbers look. Of those 20 HR he hit 18 on the road and 2! in Boston. Fenway was a terrible park for LHB HR. He tied for the league lead in 1918, all 11 were hit on the road. In 1919 he broke the all time season record by hitting 29. 20 away from home and only 9 in the friendly confines. And the season was only 140 games because of WWI/Flu epidemic. (1918 had been 126 games, and was still more than half a full time pitcher.) In 1920, with a full season as a position player, a full schedule, and a great HR park in the Polo Grounds, should it have beeen a surprise that he demolished the old record?

      • I searched the Charlton Chronology butthere was no mention of a HR while relieving. Ruth did have a PH HR on 6/12/16.
        Referring to post #38 it should be mentioned that there was no bull-pen in front of the RF stands while Ruth played there.

      • Even in his first 4 years — before his first HR title (11) in 1918 — Ruth’s combined HR rate of 2.22% was better than anyone except Gavvy Cravath (2.81%).

        • And Cravath played his home games in the Baker Bowl, perhaps a better HR park than Coors pre-humidor. After putting the bullpens in RF Fenway became only poor for LHB HR, not terrible as it had been. Ted Williams hit 248/273 H/R.

          • kds,

            In 1914 Cravath hit all 19 of his HR at the Baker Bowl. It was a (ridiculous) 280 feet down the right-field line and 300 feet to right-center. Over time, progressively higher walls (entually about 50 feet high) were added in right field to prevent cheap home runs.

            It appears that Cravath must have tailored his swing to inside-out the ball of the right field wall, as he was a righthanded hitter.

          • Lawrence,

            At Ballparks.com, it’s showing the Baker Bowl opening in 1887 with the right-field wall at 40 feet tall (tin over brick) from 1895, and 60 feet tall (screen over tin over brick) from 1915.

            The left-field (335 ft) wall (if you can call it that) was only 4 feet tall until 1929.

          • His 19 homers at Baker Field is the highest for a player who hit all his HRs at home. Mel Ott is second with 18 in 1943. Goose Goslin holds the corresponding record for road homers with 17 in 1926.

  12. The first (Gustavo Chacin) and last guys (Guillermo Mota) on the first list homered in their only PA of the season. Only three others have done this – pitchers Buster Narum (1963)and Bill Lefebvre (1938), and shortstop Eddie Rogers (2005). For Mota, Narum and Lefebvre, it was the first PA of their careers.

    • Tasty finds there, Doug. Just working with Bill Lefebvre:

      — That makes 2 Lefebvres (unrelated, I presume) who homered in their first MLB game.

      — Bill Lefebvre hit his HR off Monty Stratton, just a few months before the hunting accident that cost Stratton a leg and ended his MLB career.

      — Stratton homered in the same game, but not off Lefebvre.

      — Lefebvre was the 4th BoSox pitcher in that game. The 2nd was rookie Jim Bagby (Jr.), who was a decent pitcher (97-96) and hitter (.226) and the son of the 1920 Indians championship hero and only 30-game winner in franchise history. Father and son had very similar career batting stats. Dad was the first pitcher ever to homer in the World Series.
      Son’s only postseason appearance came exactly 26 years later, but he made out in his only AB.

      — LeFebvre didn’t get his first MLB decision (a win) until 14 months later.

  13. I was looking at the picture of Gustavo Chacin, and it reminded me that I think his uniform and others like him that wear the pants almost over the shoes looks terrible and sloppy. Unprofessional. It doesn’t even look like a baseball uniform. Pants should show at least 6 inches of the sanitaries.

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