The Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich, the reigning NL MVP, continues to make headlines this year with historic play. Brewers Hall of Fame radio announcer Bob Uecker describes Yelich’s accomplishments best. After Yelich’s third home run in Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, he said about Yelich, “That’s not normal!” He’s been making history so frequently that some accomplishments even fly under the radar.
Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich among All-Time Greats for Homering in Consecutive Games against an Opponent
Christian Yelich has been breaking records at a torrid pace since last season. His most notable accomplishment was his bi-cycle against the Reds. He became the first player in major league history to hit for the cycle twice against the same team in the same season. He started off this season homering in four consecutive games, tying the major league record for homers in consecutive games to start a season. While five others accomplished the feat, Yelich became the first reigning MVP to do so. Evidently, Yelich has a knack for excelling against specific teams. Most recently, Andrew Simon of MLB.com reported that Yelich is chasing Lou Gehrig’s record for most home runs against a single opponent in the same season.
Under the Radar Record
As mentioned earlier, with all the records Yelich has accomplished since the All-Star break last year, it can be easy for some to miss a lot of media coverage. There is another record chase by Yelich that has flown under the radar recently. Before Wednesday’s game, Yelich had hit a home run in all six Cardinals games this season. While the streak stopped after Wednesday’s game, it is still quite an accomplishment. It begs the question, “What is the record for consecutive games with a home run against the same opponent?” LWOS Baseball Editor Evan Thompson took up the task of researching the record book.
Properly Assessing the Record
First, Thompson referenced the Major League Rule Book before researching the record. The Major League Rule Book states in Rule 9.23(b):
“A consecutive-game hitting streak shall not be terminated if all of a batter’s plate appearances (one or more) in a game result in a base on balls, hit batsman, defensive interference or obstruction or a sacrifice bunt. The streak shall terminate if the player has a sacrifice fly and no hit.”
Thus, it only counts as an opportunity for the player to extend the streak if one at-bat or sacrifice fly was attempted by the player. This eliminates punishing defensive replacements who had no opportunity to hit and those who left a game due to injury without an at-bat. Also, the player should not be punished because the opposing team decided to give him free passes all day, which is why an at-bat is used instead of a plate appearance.
In addition, a sacrifice fly doesn’t count as an at-bat in baseball statistics. A player may have been trying to get a hit but just didn’t get enough of the ball, ending up with a sacrifice fly instead. The player had a legitimate chance to get a home run but failed to do so. Therefore, any game where a player had a sacrifice fly must be included as an opportunity. Leaving these games out gives the player an unfair advantage.
Yelich Homers in Seven Straight
During Thompson’s research, it was discovered that Christian Yelich’s consecutive home run streak in games described as above is seven, not just the six from this year. He also hit a home run in the second-to-last game against the Cardinals in 2018. He played in the next game but did not homer. However, his streak was kept alive because the Cardinals walked him five times in five plate appearances. As previously mentioned, the player will not be punished in those situations for this assessment.
Tied for Third Place All-Time
The major league record for consecutive games with a home run against the same opponent is nine. Joe Adcock homered in nine straight against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 as a member of the Milwaukee Braves. Adcock ended up hitting 13 home runs against the Dodgers that year. Ten of those 13 came during his streak. Coincidentally, Adcock’s 13 home runs rank second all-time for the most home runs in a season against an opponent – the same record Yelich is chasing. Also, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew homered in nine consecutive games against the Kansas City Athletics in 1961. He tallied nine homers in those games. No player homered in eight consecutive. Thus, Yelich is tied for third on the all-time list with Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Ken Griffey Jr. as well as Brian Dozier of the Washington Nationals. The trio did so against the Kansas City Athletics, Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals, respectively.
There are some notable names who homered in six straight against a single team. Brewers fans remember Eric Thames accomplishing the feat against the Cincinnati Reds in 2017. Also, Babe Ruth, Eddie Mathews, and Barry Bonds homered in six consecutive games. Two players hit in six consecutive games twice – Ken Griffey Jr. and Hall of Famer Jim Thome. Certainly, Yelich has cemented his name among some of baseball’s all-time greats.
During Yelich’s streak against the Cardinals, he belted nine home runs. Yelich is now the sole owner of the record for most home runs during a seven consecutive game home run streak against the same opponent. Berra and Griffey Jr. each hit eight during their streaks, while Dozier hit seven during his.
At first glance, one might dismiss this record as trivial. However, one only has to examine a similar record to recognize how great of an accomplishment it is. Take the same opponent out of the equation. What is the record for most home runs during a seven consecutive game home run streak? According to Baseball Almanac, the MLB record was set by Don Mattingly in 1987 with nine home runs. Barry Bonds holds the NL record with eight, which he set with San Francisco in 2004.
The records held by Mattingly and Bonds are not against the same team. When the same team is facing a hitter, the scouting reports are based on experience instead of an advanced scout. Also, the pitchers have experience against him. Yelich’s accomplishment against a single, high-quality division foe is much more difficult to accomplish than what Mattingly and Bonds achieved against several teams. Yet, Yelich has the same amount of homers as Mattingly did during his streak, and one more than the all-time home run leader Barry Bonds.
Frequent followers of LWOS are not surprised the Cardinals are having a difficult time containing Yelich. It was pointed out in Mister Blue’s Player Profile on Yelich that the Cardinals were his third-favorite team to face coming into this season. However, no one could have expected Yelich to have this much historic success against the Cardinals this year. In the words of Bob Uecker, “It’s not normal!”.
Special thank you to LWOS Baseball Editor Evan Thompson for providing the home run versus opponent research for this report.
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