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Santana the Late-Blooming Hitter July 7, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Last night, Johan Santana hit his first home run in his 87th career game as a batter. (Granted, he’s played far more than that many games because he played a few years in the American League.) Out of curiosity, I checked Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index to see how many home runs have been hit by pitchers in their first 87 games as batters.

Since 1961, there have been 431 home runs (although the Play Index only lists games starting at 1970, so that may or may not be accurate). Four pitchers have hit home runs in their first games, including Yankee pitching coach Dave Eiland in 1992 and Rockies pitcher Jason Jennings. Like Johan, Jennings pitched a complete game shutout for the win that night.

The all-time leader in home runs by a pitcher in the first 87 games (how’s that for esoteric?) is Yovani Gallardo, who’s in his fourth season pitching for the Brewers. He’s hit seven of them, and as of July 4 he’s only hit in 71 games. He’s got a lot of time to pick up the pace and possibly hit the triple-digit mark when he gets back from the disabled list some time after July 20.

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