Earlier this month, Chicago Cubs super prospect Javier Baez made his Major League debut in grand fashion…by hitting a walk-off home run in extra innings against the Colorado Rockies.
Now, three weeks later, the “Loveable Losers” called up another one of their top prospects, Jorge Soler and, well…this.
Yup, that was the 22-year-old rookie taking Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mat Latos deep in his first big league at bat. Here are ten things you might not have known about players hitting a home run the first time they stepped up to the plate.
According to initial data, Jorge Soler’s home run off Mat Latos went 423 feet. A quick glance at Hit Tracker shows that of the six home runs the pitcher has given up this season, Soler’s went the farthest.
Then a member of the Minnesota Twins, former Chicago Cubs third baseman Gary Gaetti hit a home run in his first Major League at bat on September 20, 1981. He’d go on to hit 360 homers…the most among the guys who went deep in this intial plate appearance.
All in all, since 1895, there have been 116 Major Leaguers who have gone deep in their first career at bat. And if you’re keeping track, 47 of them were American Leaguers and 69 called the National League home.
Sure, it isn’t as dramatic as doing it in your first at bat, but did you know that there have been 42 Major Leaguers to hit a home run in their LAST at bat? Okay, okay, what does this have to do with anything? Well…two (Paul Gillespie and John Miller) of these 42 also hit homers in their first at bat as well.
I’m not sure what is more impressive…hitting a home run in your first at bat as a Major Leaguer or hitting one on the first pitch you’ve ever seen thrown at you. Well, only 28 players have done the latter.
I know it isn’t fair to include Jorge Soler on this list, but you have to. Of the 116 that have went yard in their first at bat…23 (including Soler) never hit their second. Four of those 23 (again, including Soler) are still active…so the list will, more than likely, decrease in the coming weeks (if not days).
18 years, 345 days
Just a couple weeks shy of his 19th birthday, Whitey Lockman has the honor of being the youngest to hit a home run in his first at bat. Another fun fact about Lockman…he scored the tying run, just ahead of Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” that won the National League pennant for the 1951 New York Giants.
Jorge Soler is just the seventh Chicago Cub to go deep in his first career at bat. The other six? Paul Gillespie (September 11, 1942), Frank Ernaga (May 24, 1957), Cuno Barragan (September 1, 1961), Carmelo Martinez (August 22, 1983), Jim Bullinger (June 8, 1992) and Starlin Castro (May 7, 2010).
The bases were empty when Jorge Soler went deep off Mat Latos. Four times in Major League history, players have hit grand slams in that initial plate appearance. Who did it? Bill Duggleby was the first on April 21, 1898. Jeremy Hermida (August 31, 2005), Kevin Kouzmanoff (September 2, 2006) and Daniel Nava (June 12, 2010) were the other three.
Bob Nieman and Keith McDonald are the only two players in Major League history to hit home runs in their first TWO at bats. Nieman did it during the same game in 1951, but McDonald had to wait two games in 2000.