Of course baseball statistics about switch hitters were available in a finger snap Monday when the Los Angeles Angels’ Kendrys Morales hit two home runs in one inning, one from each side of the plate. He was the third player to pull off the feat in Major League history.
Switch-hitting itself seems to be on the verge of becoming a lost art. It takes some hunkering down and thinking for too many names to percolate to the forefront of my mind. Yankee Mickey Mantle is the greatest switch-hitter of all-time, with the Baltimore Orioles’ Eddie Murray just about the only one challenging him for supremacy in his own way, though not in glamor.
Given how difficult it is to hit a pitched ball at all, it’s remarkable that there have ever been any hitters proficient enough to hit big-league pitching from both sides of the plate. We never hear of pitchers who can throw with either hand at the top level of the game.
Morales did his damage (one of the blasts was a grand slam) during the Angels’ nine-run sixth inning as part of LA’s 15-8 thumping of the Texas Rangers. That is the first prerequisite, that a team run up enough runs to bat around and give a hitter two opportunities to step into the batter’s box in the same inning. Coming to bat twice in an inning doesn’t happen all that often. Coming to bat twice in an inning and homering twice is pretty unusual, as well. Just by doing that, hitting from either side of the plate, Morales joined a group of 25 batters.
Still, 25 people sharing a record is not even exclusive enough to impress girls. But hitting a dinger from both sides of the plate might do it. The only other players in big-league history to do so besides Morales are Carlos Baerga with the Cleveland Indians in 1993 and Mark Bellhorn with the Chicago Cubs in 2002. Those are not the people one would think of first when trying to remember a home-run record. Neither were exactly sluggers and both were middle infielders.
This is exactly the type of record one would think Mantle would have set in his Hall of Fame career. Mantle smacked 536 career home runs and drove in 1,509 runs while batting .298. Murray hit 504 home runs and drove in 1,917 runs while batting .287.
Some other top switch-hitters: Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves, probably playing his last season; Lance Berkman of the St. Louis Cardinals; Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. And, naturally, Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader with 4,256 of them, though not so many of them homers. Alomar and Rose were great players, but they were not home-run hitters.
This is one of those offbeat records baseball is famous for being aware of, but it is not one of those records that fans do much more than take note of in passing. Still, it’s a fun record and now Morales can join Baerga and Bellhorn as part of the answer to a trivia question.
Topics: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Baerga, Chicago Cubs, Chipper Jones, Cleveland Indians, Eddie Murray, Hall Of Fame, Kendrys Morales, Lance Berkman, Los Angeles Angels, Major League, Mark Bellhorn, Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees, Pete Rose, Roberto Alomar, St Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers