One aspect that makes a baseball game fun is the chance of witnessing something you’ve never seen before. (And yes, I would argue the odds are much higher than for a single game in a different sport.) If you attended or watched the Reds-Cardinals game in Cincinnati last night, you saw Scooter Gennett become just the 17th player in Major League history to hit four home runs in a game. Was the little-known Gennett, a second baseman who entered the game with 38 career homers, the unlikeliest four-HR achiever of all time?
Let’s take a look at the chart of the 17 players who have done it (click to embiggen):
Only one player, Bobby Lowe in 1894, hit four home runs in a game with fewer previous career homers. Five players did it with fewer at-bats; in the cases of Rocky Colavito, Gil Hodges, and Mike Schmidt, the milestone was a sign of their burgeoning power.
For Gennett, who also added a single in the game to finish 5-for-5 with 10 RBI, it’s too early to call his career. This is just his fifth major league season, and first in Cincy after coming over from Milwaukee.
According to Baseball-Reference, the source of the chart’s data, at age 26 Gennett’s hitting is most similar to what Neil Walker, Michael Young, Adam Kennedy, and Ronnie Belliard produced at that age. Walker (who is still active) and Young each hit 20+ homers in multiple seasons; Kennedy and Belliard never did. Gennett hit a career-best 14 homers as a Brewer last season.
By the way, Scooter is not his real name (it’s Ryan), but the nickname is official enough to be displayed on the front of his baseball card, making him, according to B-R, the only “Scooter” in the history of baseball (though a few had it as a nickname, including Phil Rizzuto).