FanPost

Cubs who hit for 'home run cycle', Part 1

A commenter in a game thread said she would like to live long enough to see a player hit a "home run cycle": solo, 2-run, 3-run and grand slam homers in the same game!

That's never happened, of course.

Only 16 players, none of them Cubs, have hit 4 home runs in a game. Just 2 of them had have had 10 RBI.

In 1993, Mark Whitten of the Cardinals belted a grand slam, a pair of 3-run homers and a 2-run homer -- his fourth, in the ninth inning -- but did not have a solo shot!

In 2017, Scooter Gennett of the Reds homered once with the bases full and 3 times with 1 aboard.

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3 CUBS HIT 3 OF 4 TYPES

No Cub has homered 4 times. Of the 41 times that a Cub has hit 3 homers, in only 3 did the player hit 3 different types of homers.

The 3 who did it are among the less expected of the 26 players with had at least 1 game with 3 homers:

1. Adolfo Phillips: solo, 2-run and 3-run, in 18-10 win over Mets, on June 11, 1967

2. George Mitterwald: solo, 2-run and grand slam, in 18-9 win over Pirates, on April 17, 1974

3. Dioner Navarro: solo, 1-run and 2-run, in 9-3 win over White Sox, on May 29, 2013.

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In contrast, in 11 games the player hit 3 of the same kind of homer.

Sammy Sosa famously hit 3-run homers in 3 consecutive innings in a game at Colorado in 2002.

Billy Williams hit a trio of 2-run homers in his only 3-homer game, against the Mets in 1968.

Nine times, a player hit 3 homers with nobody on base. Two players did it twice: Hank Sauer, in 1950 and 1952, and Sosa, in 1998 and 2001.

The others with solo-homer hat tricks were Clyde McCullough (1942), Tuffy Rhodes (on Opening Day of 1994), Aramis Ramirez (2004) and Alfonso Soriano (2007).

...

Besides Sosa and Williams, 5 players hit 3 homers, all with runners on base.

Rogers Hornsby (1931) and Lee Walls (1958) homered once with 1 on and twice with 2 on.

Babe Herman (1933) hit 2 with 1 on and a grand slam.

Ernie Banks (1955) and Dave Kingman (1978) homered twice with 1 on and once with 2 on.

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CYCLE IN A SEASON

I knew from previous research that 4 Cubs had hit exactly 4 home runs in a season, 1 of each kind: Jimmy Ryan, in 1886; Joe Tinker (1911), Heinie Zimmerman (1914) and Ron Northey (1950).

But how many others had homered for the cycle over the course of a season, regardless of how many homers they hit?

I consulted the Home Run Log at baseball-reference.com for each of the 195 players who has hit at least 1 of the Cubs' 335 grand slams since 1876.

I examined the entries in all homers the player hit in any seasons in which he hit a slam, noting the year(s) in which he also had homers that produced 1, 2 and 3 runs.

For any player who did not have each of the other kinds of homers in any season in which he hit a slam, I checked to see whether he had a home run cycle among all the homers he hit while playing for the Cubs.

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CLOSING IN ON 100

It turns out that when Frank Schwindel hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning against the Pirates on Sept. 5, he became the 98th different player in Cubs history to complete a home run cycle in a season.

Rafael Ortega had become No. 97 just 3 days earlier, when he hit a 3-run homer in the series opener against the Pirates.

Six different players did in in 1876-1900, then 67 in the next century and and 25 since 2001, including Javier Baez this season before he was traded to the Mets.

The last first timers before Ortega and Schwindel were Willson Contreras, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber, all in 2017.

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Ortega and Schwindel are among 63 players who did it in exactly 1 season. The first were King Kelly and Ned Williamson, both in 1884.

There were 2 more 1-timers through 1900, for a total of 4, followed by 43 in 1901-2000 and 16 in the 21st Century.

The most recent before Happ with just 1 was Addison Russell, in 2016.

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MULTIPLE HOMER CYCLES

After completing their home run cycles in 2017, Contreras and Schwarber both did it again in 2019, increasing to 35 the number of Cubs with multiple homer cycles in a season.

Ernie Banks and Billy Williams have done it the most times, 7.

Aramis Ramirez had 6 homer cycles as a Cub; Javier Baez, Derrek Lee and Sammy Sosa; 5; and Bill Nicholson, Anthony Rizzo and Ron Santo, 4.

Six sluggers had 3: Kris Bryant, Dave Kingman, Hank Leiber, Andy Pafko, Ryne Sandberg and Hank Sauer.

...

Of those 15 who did it at least 3 times, 6 did it in at least 3 consecutive seasons.

Ramirez did it in 5 straight, 2004-08; Baez, in 4, 2016-19.

Leiber (1939-41), Banks (1959-61), Kingman (1978-80) and Sosa (2000-02) had runs of 3 years in a row.

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Here, in 2 groups, are the 20 who did it twice:

Michael Barrett, Ron Cey, Willson Contreras, Jody Davis, Andre Dawson, Mark DeRosa, Shawon Dunston, Leon Durham, Augie Galan and Gabby Hartnett.

Also, Rogers Hornsby, Randy Hundley, Randy Jackson, Hack Miller, Fred Pfeffer, Henry Rodriguez, Jimmy Ryan, Kyle Schwarber, Rick Wilkins and Hack Wilson.

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Wilson did it in 1928, when he hit 31 homers, and 1929, when he hit 39 -- but NOT in 1930, his greatest season, when he set a National League record with 56 homers. He homered 25 times with 1 on base, 23 times with none and 8 times with 2, but never with 3 aboard.

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Those 35 players had a total of 105 homer cycles. Add the 63 who did it once, and the grand total is 168 times that a Cub has hit at least 1 of each kind of homer during a single season.

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The full list of the 63 who did it once will appear at the end of the second post in this series. Among the notable names on that list: Bill Buckner, Mark Grace, Charlie Grimm, Billy Herman, Ralph Kiner, Fred McGriff, Rick Monday, Keith Moreland, Walt Moryn, Bobby Murcer, Joe Pepitone, Frank Schulte, Alfonso Soriano, Riggs Stephenson and Joe Tinker.

The list literally runs from A to Z: Earl Averill to Heinie Zimmerman and Julio Zuleta.

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SAVING BEST FOR LAST

Zuleta, in 2001, became the 12th player to complete a season home run cycle by hitting a grand slam for his final homer of the year. In Zuleta's case, the slam was the last of his 9 homers as a Cub.

He hit 6 that season, in an interesting order, by runs produced: 1, 1, 2, 3, 1, 4.

Miguel Montero is the only Cub since Zuleta to cap a homer cycle with a slam. He did it in 2015.

The first was Jimmy Ryan, in 1886. Next came Heinie Zimmerman, in 1914.

Others in the 20th Century, in chronological order: Hack Miller (1922),.Norm McMillan (1929), Vince Barton (1931), Bill Nicholson (1946), Ron Northey (1950), Ron Santo (1965), Jody Davis (1984) and Derrick May (1993).

Miller hit 12 homers in 1922, starting with 6 in a row with 1 on base, followed by 3 with the bases empty, then a pair with 2 aboard prior to his slam.

Nicholson's cycle came among just 8 homers in 1946. A year later, he hit 21, with no slams and just a lone 3-run homer.

May's slam was his last of 10 homers in 1993, and the seventh with runners on base. Only 5 of the first 21 homers he hit as a Cub came with the bases empty, then 6 of the last 7 were solo shots.

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Andy Pafko missed joining the list of last-homer slams for a cycle in 1949 because he hit 1 more homer after his slam: another slam!

Jerry Morales, in 1974; Neifi Perez, in 2005; and Anthony Rizzo, in 2019, also hit a grand slam as their next-to-last homer to complete a cycle.

Rizzo's last homer came with the bases empty. So did 10 of his 11 in 2020, with a 2-run homer as his next to last.

Of his first 12 homers in 2021, 11 were solo shots and 1 drove in a runner. His last pair as a Cub were for 2 runs. Since being traded to the Yankees, he has hit 5 solos and 1 for 2 runs.

So, his last 32 homers have been 29 solos and a trio for 2 runs!

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Three players finished cycles by slugging 3-run homers as their last of the year: Bob O'Farrell, in 1923; Charlie Grimm, in 1930; and Rick Wilkins, in 1996. Grimm had hit 2 grand slams among 10 homers the previous season, but no 3-run homers.

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AS EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE

As mentioned above, 4 players completed a home run cycle while hitting just 4 homers in a season.

The homers by Jimmy Ryan, in 1886, produced 2, 1, 3 and 4 runs.

Joe Tinker's order, in 1911, was 1, 2, 4, 3; Heinie Zimmerman's, in 1914, was 3, 1, 2, 4; and Ron Northey's, in 1950, also was 3, 1, 2, 4.

Those were the only 4 homers that Northey hit as a Cub. Ryan hit 99, most by any Chicago player before 1901; Tinker, 28 as a Cub; and Zimmerman, 48.

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Five more did it in their first 4 home runs of a season. The 5, in chronological order, with the year, then the number of runs produced by each homer, in parentheses:

Bill Lange, 1893 (3, 2, 1, 4)

George Grantham, 1924 (2, 1, 3, 4)

Fred McGriff, 2001 (2, 4, 1, 3)

Derrek Lee, 2004 (1, 4, 2, 3)

Michael Barrett, 2006 (2, 4, 1, 3)

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Lange, McGriff and Lee all did it as their first 4 homers for the team -- McGriff, in a span of 32 days after being acquired in a trade on July 27.

Lange finished his season with 8; McGriff, with 12 as a Cub; and Lee, with 32.

Grantham would end 1924, his second full season as a Cub, with 12. He had hit 8 the previous year.

Barrett homered 16 times in 2006, just as he had in each of the 2 preceding seasons with the team.

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OH, SO CLOSE!

Here, in chronological order, are the 10 players who completed a home run cycle with their first 5 home runs of a season, with the year; the number of runs produced by each homer, in parentheses; and how many homers they hit for the season, in brackets:

Ad Gumbert, 1889 (3, 4, 3, 2, 1) [7]

Norm McMillan, 1929 (1, 2, 3, 1, 4) [5]

Andy Pafko, 1951 (1, 2, 3, 1, 4) [30]

Hank Sauer, 1952 (4, 3, 2, 2, 1) [37]

Bobby Murcer, 1978 (4, 1, 3, 1, 2) p9]

Dave Kingman, 1980 (1, 3, 1, 2, 4) [48]

Ron Cey, 1984 (1, 1, 2, 3, 4) [25]

Dwight Smith, 1989 (3, 2, 1, 2, 4) [9]

Troy O'Leary, 2003 (1, 3, 4, 3, 2) [5]

Reed Johnson, 2008 (2, 3, 3, 4, 1) [6]

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Gumbert, most often a pitcher, did it in his first full season with the team.

McMillan did it in the last of his 5 seasons in the Major Leagues. He had hit only 1 homer in his first 4 years, after joining the Cubs in 1928.

Sauer and Kingman led the league in homers in their seasons.

Smith was runnerup to teammate Jerome Walton in voting for Rookie of the Year.

O'Leary's were all 5 that he hit as a Cub, in the last of his 11 big league seasons.

Johnson did it in his first year as a Cub.

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TOMORROW: A player who apparently went back in time to hit the first homer of his single-season cycle!

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