New York Yankees: Don Mattingly’s very odd 1987 season

CHICAGO - 1987: Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - 1987: Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois during the 1987 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Major League Baseball is a game filled with quirks and anomalies. Such was the case with some of the statistics posted Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees during the 1987 campaign.

Mattingly’s 1987 season was in the middle of a run where he went to six consecutive All-Star Games, finished in the top seven of American League MVP voting in four straight seasons, and earned five consecutive Gold Gloves while holding down first base for the New York Yankees. He was also coming off back-to-back campaigns where he led all MLB batters in total bases (with 370 in 1985 and 388 in 1986).

However, despite all of the numbers put up by Mattingly during an incredible six-season run between 1984 and 1989, he did something in 1987 that he never did in any other season … and he did it six times in that year.

Don Mattingly’s home run-filled 1987 season for the New York Yankees was astounding on many levels

Yes, during the 1987 season, Mattingly belted six grand slams to set a new MLB record. Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hit five in the same season in 1955, but Mattingly’s upper deck blast on September 29, 1987, against the Boston Red Sox established a new MLB record.

Mattingly hit his six grand slams in 19 plate appearances with the bases loaded. He would never hit a grand slam in a season before or after that in his 14-year career.

Only one other player has matched Mattingly’s grand slam number in a season, that being Cleveland’s Travis Hafner who hit six in 2006.

But it wasn’t just grand slams that Mattingly was hitting that season. He was hitting home runs in spurts, particularly after a slow start to the season power-wise and playing in just 10 games in June because of a back issue. Through the end of June, Mattingly had eight home runs in 59 games.

However, when the calendar turned to July, Mattingly’s home run swing turned up as well. He hit 10 home runs in July alone (24 games), including an eight-game streak with at least one home run in each contest. During that eight-game streak, Mattingly posted a .459 batting average, hitting 10 homers and driving in 21 runs. His OPS during the streak was 1.324.

Mattingly was absolutely locked in during that run, striking out just twice.

In MLB history, only Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 and Ken Griffey Jr. with the Seattle Mariners in 1993 have joined Mattingly by hitting home runs in eight straight games. Ironically, in 1993 with Griffey started his streak, he began it with a deep drive at Yankee Stadium. In that same game, Mattingly hit a home run as well.

Next. What if Don Mattingly's back had held up?. dark

One season. Two different home run records. Quite a 1987 season for Mattingly and the Yankees.