With the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field yesterday afternoon Cubs pitchers served up seven homers in a 14-3 blowout loss to the Reds, including three long balls to center fielder Drew Stubbs.
“I’ve never done it at any level, little league, high school, or college,” Stubbs told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com afterward. “I think I’ve only got a handful of two-homer games. Three is something special.”
He’s right, of course, although there are probably more three-homer games than Stubbs would think, with seven already this season and an average of 10.5 per year during the previous decade.
However, if we limit the field a bit by looking only at three-homer games by players Stubbs’ age (25) or younger, it’s much more exclusive company.
Here’s the list of all the three-homer games from 25-and-under hitters since 2000:
Drew Stubbs 2010 Albert Pujols 2004
Andrew McCutchen 2009 Victor Martinez 2004
Evan Longoria 2008 Carlos Pena 2003
Joey Votto 2008 Andruw Jones 2002
Cody Ross 2006 Jose Ortiz 2001
Nick Markakis 2006 Aramis Ramirez 2001
Jose Reyes 2006 Alex Rodriguez 2000
Jonny Gomes 2005
Basically, one or two 25-and-under hitters per season have a three-homer game and of the 14 guys to previously accomplish the feat since 2000 all but two or three of them have become All-Star caliber players (the actual kind, not just the Omar Infante kind). Perhaps it’s not all that surprising, but the list is definitely full of more big names and fewer non-stars than I’d have guessed.
Stubbs is one of the oldest guys on the 25-and-under list and hasn’t been particularly impressive through 120 career games, hitting just .250/.322/.426 with 19 homers and an ugly 134/43 K/BB ratio. However, he’s a former first-round pick whose power-speed combination is promising if he can ever learn to control the strike zone and recent history shows that not many bad players have a three-homer game by his age.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.