A Four Home Run Game Or A Perfect Game?

File:Josh Hamilton.jpg

Last night the Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton became only the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game. This is a feat that many compare to pitching a perfect game and the debate over which is more impressive rages on. In my opinion, the four homer game is much more impressive than the perfect game and I have some numbers to back it up.

There have been 16 four homer games in MLB history and 21 perfect games making both feats very rare. By just looking at the those numbers the four homer game is more impressive but if we dig a little deeper we will see just how extraordinary it is. At the beginning of every baseball game there are only two players who are eligible to pitch a perfect game (the two starting pitchers). However, there are 18 players (excluding substitutions) who could hit four home runs. Hitters have 9 times as many chances to complete their feat as their pitching counterparts but have done so five fewer times in history.

No-hitters and three homer games can be compared too. There have been 274 no-hitters in MLB history and 491 three homer games. So three homer games happen a lot more than no-hitters but don’t forget that batters still have 9 times as many chances to accomplish their feat than the pitchers do.

What’s interesting about both the four home run game and the perfect games is that more often than not the feats are accomplished by players not in or not headed to Cooperstown. Of the 16 players who have hit four homers in a game only 5 are in the Hall of Fame (Ed Delanty, Lou Gehrig, Chuck Klein, Willie Mays, and Mike Schmidt). Of the 21 pitchers who have pitched a perfect game only 5 are in the Hall of Fame (Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax, and Catfish Hunter) and one will be there soon (Randy Johnson).

Both rare feats are great accomplishments for the players who are lucky enough to complete them. But statistically the four home run game is much more rare than the perfect game so is therefore much more impressive.



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6 responses to “A Four Home Run Game Or A Perfect Game?

  1. Mike

    I think it also goes beyond statistics. If a great pitcher is playing against an awful team or injured team, perfection is possible territory. However, with the 4 run home run game…a pitcher can intentionally walk, give the batter nothing to hit, or plunk the batter. The hitter also may be in a situation where he doesn’t need to take a monstrous swing- perhaps he needs to hit it on the ground to the right side to get the runner from 2nd to 3rd in a close game with no outs. There are so many external and situational pressures the game puts on the hitter that can greatly decrease his chances of even having the opportunity to hit 4 in a game let alone actually doing it…and that is why I am shocked at a 4 HR game.

  2. Pags

    Such a rare event, to think it’s only May and we’ve already seen a perfect game from Phil Humber and now a 4-dong game with Hamilton.

    Good point on the external and situational pressures from the game. Another thing is this, that hitter is going to see multiple pitchers in a game on the road to 4 homers, the starting pitcher’s going to see the same guys for the most part. With middle relief, set up men, and closers you’ve got to face some fresh arms late in the ball game.

  3. cgoogs

    There have also been players who have hit 4 HRs in 4 consecutive at-bats, but over multiple games. While not as impressive as doing it one game, it is still quite a feat. I’m sure there are others, but players to do it in multiple games include Micky Mantle (July 4-6, 1962), Larry Herndon (May 16-18, 1982), Bobby Murcer (1970 in a double header),

  4. cgoogs

    And most important of all when debating perfect games vs 4 home runs is one simple fact … Chicks dig the long ball

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