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Anthony Rizzo and the fewest hits for a career cycle

Posted by John Autin on June 18, 2011

B-R reader Zuke posed the following question in a recent thread:

"The Padres' Anthony Rizzo has four career hits: a single, a double, a triple and a home run. Is he the first player to do that? Is that even searchable?"

Now, if the question means, "Has anyone ever gotten a single, double, triple and HR as his first 4 hits?", I cannot answer. But if it means, "Is Rizzo the only player with exactly 4 career hits, including one of each kind?", then it is searchable, and the answer (as first reported by reader Spindlebrook) is "no". Here are the two players who, as of this moment, have exactly one of each type of hit in their careers:

Rk Player Year HR 3B 2B 1B From To Age G PA AB R H RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Anthony Rizzo 2011 1 1 1 1 2011 2011 21-21 8 33 25 2 4 1 7 0 9 1 0 0 1 0 0 .160 .364 .400 .764 /*3 SDP
2 Jerry Brooks 1996 1 1 1 1 1993 1996 26-29 17 16 14 4 4 4 1 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .286 .375 .714 1.089 /93 LAD-FLA
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

As I looked at Rizzo's game log, related questions came to mind:

How many others have had exactly 1 of each flavor of hit in a season?:

Rk Player Year H 3B 2B HR Age Tm Lg G PA AB R RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Anthony Rizzo 2011 4 1 1 1 21 SDP NL 8 33 25 2 1 7 0 9 1 0 0 1 0 0 .160 .364 .400 .764 /*3
2 Matt Diaz 2004 4 1 1 1 26 TBD AL 10 24 21 3 3 1 0 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 .190 .292 .476 .768 /D79
3 Curtis Pride 1993 4 1 1 1 24 MON NL 10 9 9 3 5 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 .444 .444 1.111 1.556 /7
4 Fred Manrique 1985 4 1 1 1 23 MON NL 9 14 13 5 1 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .308 .357 .769 1.126 /645
5 Bruce Kison 1978 4 1 1 1 28 PIT NL 28 29 29 2 1 0 0 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 .138 .138 .345 .483 *1
6 Ray Poat 1947 4 1 1 1 29 NYG NL 7 23 21 3 5 1 0 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 .190 .227 .476 .703 /*1
7 Claude Hendrix 1911 4 1 1 1 22 PIT NL 22 42 41 2 2 1 0 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 .098 .119 .244 .363 *1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

Matt Diaz, a September callup for Tampa in 2004, went 0 for his first 12 before ticking off the cycle one by one in his last 4 games that year (HR, 2B, 1B, 3B).

I also noticed that Rizzo collected the hits in inverse order of their general frequency: first the triple (in his June 9 debut); then the HR and the double (in his 3rd game); and finally, after an 0 for 13 stretch, the single. I have no way to check the rarity of that; but it did occur to me that, had Rizzo been sent back down to the minors when his average fell to .176, he could have become just the 2nd player ever to have a season with at least one of each extra-base hit, but NO singles:

Rk Player Year 1B 3B 2B HR Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Dixie Howell 1957 0 1 1 3 37 CHW AL 42 29 27 4 5 3 2 0 6 0 0 0 1 0 0 .185 .241 .630 .871 *1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

Which leads to our accustomed tangent. Take a deep breath or turn back now; the cave is vast, and there is little air below....

Dixie Howell, from Harold, KY, was a pitcher who had an unusual MLB career, mostly in relief and mostly from the ages of 35 to 37. He is not to be confused with the catcher Dixie Howell, from Louisville, KY, who was active in some of the same seasons. Dixie the pitcher started sooner and stayed later, but Dixie the catcher got more playing time. It's confusing.

Anyway, Dixie Howell the pitcher was just OK at his primary task, with a career 106 ERA+. But he was one of the best-hitting pitchers in a short career that MLB has ever seen. Howell and Micah Owings are the only pitchers with at least 50 career AB and a slugging percentage of at least .500:

Rk Player SLG AB From To Age G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP OPS Pos Tm
1 Micah Owings .526 190 2007 2011 24-28 151 204 26 55 14 2 9 34 8 0 65 1 3 2 2 0 0 .289 .318 .845 *1 ARI-TOT-CIN
2 Dixie Howell .500 74 1940 1958 20-38 124 79 8 18 2 1 5 9 4 0 21 0 1 0 1 0 0 .243 .282 .782 *1 CLE-CIN-CHW
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

And now for the minutiae....

Howell hit 3 HRs in 1957, all in Comiskey Park, which was quite a feat. The rest of the White Sox hit just 37 HRs in Comiskey that year in over 2,500 AB, a rate of 1 HR per 69 AB; Howell did all his damage in just 14 AB, including the 3 HRs, a triple and a double. On the road, he went 0 for 13.

Two of those HRs came in one game, on June 16, 1957, the nightcap of a doubleheader that the 1st-place ChiSox swept from the last-place Senators. Howell relieved starter Jack Harshman in the 5th, an inning that ended with the Senators ahead, 6-0. Howell led off the home 6th with a home run off Tex Clevenger. The Sox scored twice more that inning, but trailed, 6-3, when Howell came up again in the 6th with 2 out and none on, and hit another HR, off Bud Byerly. Chicago scored 4 in the 8th, the last 2 runs scoring on walks, and won the game, 8-6; Howell earned the win, charged with no runs in 3.2 IP.

Howell's other HR that year was a walk-off job against the Athletics on Sept. 6, 1957. He came on in relief to start the 8th with the A's ahead by 2 runs, and gave up a leadoff triple to Joe DeMaestri, but Howell struck out Gus Zernial, then retired Lou Skizas and Billy Martin to strand the runner. Chicago tied it in their 8th, and after Howell worked out of another jam in the 9th (snaring a 2-out liner by Vic Power with 2 runners in scoring position), he came up with 1 out in the home 9th and hit a blast off Wally Burnette. (Burnette, incidentally, holds the unique distinction of having once been traded for Tommy Lasorda.)

Howell had 4 games in which he homered as a reliever, tying him with 4 others for 2nd in the live-ball era.

Rk Player #Matching PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
1 Chad Kimsey 6 Ind. Games 10 9 6 0 0 6 8 1 0 .667 .700 2.667 3.367 0 0 0
2 Ken Tatum 4 Ind. Games 5 5 4 0 0 4 6 0 0 .800 .800 3.200 4.000 0 0 0 0 0
3 Lou Sleater 4 Ind. Games 6 6 4 0 0 4 8 0 1 .667 .667 2.667 3.333 0 0 0 0 1
4 Mickey McDermott 4 Ind. Games 7 7 4 0 0 4 4 0 1 .571 .571 2.286 2.857 0 0 0 0 0
5 Dixie Howell 4 Ind. Games 6 6 5 0 0 5 6 0 1 .833 .833 3.333 4.167 0 0 0 0 0
6 Clint Hartung 4 Ind. Games 6 6 4 0 0 4 6 0 1 .667 .667 2.667 3.333 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

Howell is also one of 4 relief pitchers with 2 HRs in one game since 1919, and the last to do so:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos. Summary
1 Dixie Howell 1957-06-16 (2) CHW WSH W 8-6 3 3 2 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.016 1.429 1.227 9 P
2 Babe Birrer 1955-07-19 DET BAL W 12-4 2 2 2 2 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.211 4.326 .785 9 P
3 Jack Knight 1926-06-24 (1) PHI NYG L 7-12 4 4 2 2 0 0 2 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 9 P
4 Jess Doyle 1925-09-28 (2) DET NYY L 6-7 2 2 2 2 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 9 P
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

Finally, for you intrepid few who have not yet lost the will to live, here are relief pitchers who have hit a home run since 2000:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO ROE WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos. Summary
1 Gustavo Chacin 2010-05-31 HOU WSN L 4-14 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.094 1.000 .900 9 P
2 Micah Owings 2010-05-07 CIN CHC L 7-14 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 0.023 2.032 .207 9 P
3 Russ Ortiz 2009-05-19 HOU MIL L 2-4 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.157 1.000 1.360 9 P
4 Mark Worrell 2008-06-05 (2) STL WSN L 9-10 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0.121 2.603 .700 8 P
5 Carlos Marmol 2006-09-07 CHC PIT L 5-7 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.123 1.000 1.260 9 P
6 Jorge Sosa 2006-07-17 ATL STL W 15-3 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 1.000 .000 9 P
7 Adam Wainwright 2006-05-24 STL SFG W 10-4 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.072 0.626 1.255 9 P
8 Randy Keisler 2005-06-07 CIN TBD W 9-7 3 3 2 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0.119 1.386 .650 9 P
9 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-09-12 MIL SFG L 2-8 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.019 1.000 .280 9 P
10 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-08-06 MIL ATL L 2-10 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0.001 1.614 .010 3 P
11 Guillermo Mota 2003-07-13 LAD COL W 9-3 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.081 1.000 .700 9 P
12 Brooks Kieschnick 2003-05-12 MIL CHC L 5-11 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0.041 1.873 .270 9 P
13 Mike Matthews 2001-08-21 STL CIN W 11-6 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.002 1.000 .020 9 P
14 Omar Olivares 2001-06-29 PIT MON L 3-12 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0.116 1.609 1.220 9 P
15 Danny Graves 2001-06-21 CIN HOU W 8-7 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0.123 1.311 1.160 9 P
16 Felipe Lira 2000-07-08 MON TOR L 3-6 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.122 1.000 1.260 9 P
17 Gabe White 2000-06-10 COL TEX W 12-6 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.040 1.000 .270 9 P
18 Danny Graves 2000-05-12 CIN HOU W 7-3 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.025 1.000 .170 2 P
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2011.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2011 at 6:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

37 Responses to “Anthony Rizzo and the fewest hits for a career cycle”

  1. Owings also has 2 pinch-hit HRs that were not in relief appearances but straight PH opportunities. I'm pretty sure when he did it 1st in 2008, he was the 1st pitcher with a PH HR in 20 or 30 years (Bill Robinson IIRC).

  2. WEll, it wasn't Bill Robinson so I mis-remembered that part. But I'm pretty sure about the 20-30 years. . . .

  3. DaveKingman Says:

    Dixie Howell? Harrumph.

    A poor man's Terry Forster.

  4. Brooks Kieschnick, wow. Three in one year.
    And, he had homers that year as a P, a PH, and as a DH.

  5. Spindlebrook Says:

    @ Voomo Zanzibar - He's the only player to ever hit home runs as a P, PH, and DH.

    They don't call him "Toolshed" for nothing!

  6. "Howell relieved starter Jack Harshman in the 5th...." Harshman was also a pitcher who could hit with power - 6 home runs in 1956, another 6 in 1958. His OPS+ was 101 in 1957, 123 in 1958 (in 101 PA). His career OPS was not so good, just 73. I think he's just outside the top 20 in career SLG for a pitcher with 500+ PA.

  7. Morten Jonsson Says:

    @3

    Actually, Dixie Howell was the poor man's Dixie Howell--both he and the catcher got their names from the real Dixie Howell, the legendary halfback at the University of Alabama. Any Southerner named Howell in the thirties and forties stood a good chance of being called Dixie. The real Dixie Howell played minor league baseball for eight years--he was pretty good, but never quite made the majors.

  8. John Autin Says:

    What a great set of comments! Every one of them made me think, laugh, or both. Commendations to all you spelunkers.

    And if there's one thing I like, it's a good, old-fashioned harrumph!

    (Even if Dave Kingman is a poor man's Dick Stuart.)

  9. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Curtis Pride! One of my special favorites, for a few reasons.

    1993 was his debut year. He was a September call-up for the Expos that year. He was originally with the Mets organization but did not do well in the minors for them because he was going to school at and playing basketball for the College of William and Mary.

  10. Thomas Court Says:

    Sorry to be off topic... but has anyone seen the trailer for Moneyball? It looks pretty good. Brad Pitt is nicely cast as Billy Beane, and Aaron Sorkin contributing to the writing? Nice.

  11. The earliest in a career for recording a game cycle: Gary Ward of the Twins, in his 14th career game.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIL/MIL198009181.shtml

    Ward achieved 3/4 of the cycle 2 games earlier (his first two career XBHs), but the cycle game was his first career homer, so was also the game he first achieved a career cycle.

  12. "Burnette, incidentally, holds the unique distinction of having once been traded for Tommy Lasorda."

    Indeed, he does. And, interestingly, that trade was the one Lasorda transaction that didn't involve the Dodgers. After 7 seasons in the Dodger organization, Lasorda was sold to the As during spring training of the '56 season. With the As, Tommy got his first (and only) real shot in the bigs, with 5 starts and 13 relief appearances in half a season before the Burnette trade to the Yankees in July of '56. The Yankees would, in turn, sell Lasorda back to the Dodgers the next season.

    Lasorda never again appeared in a major league game after that stint with the As, eventually being released by the Dodgers in 1960. But, he did get his only gray ink there - dubiously ranking 3rd in the AL in wid pitches, with 7 in just 45 innings work.

  13. wow, nice post john. thanks for following up on that little query. i did, in fact, mean "is rizzo the first to hit for the 'career cycle' with his first four hits?" obviously he's not. some fine tangents too!

  14. John Autin Says:

    Well done, Doug @11!

    Gary Ward hit .463 that year (19 for 41) -- the 4th highest BA in modern history for a player with 40+ ABs.

    Ward never had another cycle, though he did have a game that one of our readers (sorry, but it's late and your name escapes me) has dubbed a "cycle-plus" -- i.e., a game with 4+ hits and at least 2 of some kind of XBH such that, by "scaling down" one or more of the XBH, the gap(s) in the cycle could be filled in:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198305230.shtml

    Ward also had this pseudo-cycle game, with the hits coming in reverse order. He homered, tripled, singled and stole 2nd, then singled, and scored all 4 times:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHA/CHA198408140.shtml

  15. @14.

    John, thanks for mentioning the super-cycle.

    J.P. Arencibia is the record holder in that category with a super cycle (HR, 2B, 1B, HR) in his first career game.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR201008070.shtml

    But, the magic didn't last. Starting with an out in his 5th AB of that first game, Arencibia went 1 for 31 for the remainder of his first season.

    Honorable mention (and I'd better mention it since only 393 attended the game) goes to Ed Freed of the Phillies, who had a single, 2 doubles and a triple in his first career game, the only other player with 4+ hits, including 3+ XBH in his first career game.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI194209110.shtml

    The 22 year-old Freed went .303 / .378 / .455 in 13 games with the Phils that September, but he never again played in the majors.

  16. @15.

    Don't know why I called it a super cycle. Your term, "cycle-plus", is what I'm talking about.

  17. Bill Hall came up with Milw. in 2002. His first four Major League hits in order were; HR,3B,2B, and 1B.

  18. @1 and 2 Anon:

    Might that have been Don Robinson? Teammate of Bill on late 70s, early 80s Pirates, "good hitter for a pitcher"?

  19. Uh, Mike, since those were Brooks' only hits, you can safely conclude they were his first four hits, as well. So as it happens, you can answer the original question.

  20. John Autin Says:

    @20 -- Good point, there ... uh ... Jim. (?)

  21. Whoops. I quickly looked up top to see who'd posted this and looked at accidentally looked at the previous post title instead. So is an apology appropriate when one mis-identifies a person who made a mistake?

  22. Claude Hendrix first 4 hits were for the cycle.

  23. Speaking of good hitting pitchers, here are all the players who have homered 5+ times in a season in which 75% of their appearances were pitching. Take a look at some of those slash lines. Carlos Z's season looks pretty tame compared to most of these seasons.

    Seems like the 60s were the decade of the pitcher, only if you weren't a pitcher. If you were, then you were raking (unless you were Dean Chance).

    Wes Ferrell, 9, 1931, 0.319 / 0.373 / 0.621
    Earl Wilson, 7, 1966, 0.240 / 0.299 / 0.500
    Earl Wilson, 7, 1968, 0.227 / 0.253 / 0.489
    Don Drysdale, 7, 1958, 0.227 / 0.261 / 0.591
    Don Drysdale, 7, 1965, 0.300 / 0.331 / 0.508
    Bob Lemon, 7, 1949, 0.269 / 0.331 / 0.556
    Sonny Siebert, 6, 1971, 0.266 / 0.289 / 0.532
    Rick Wise, 6, 1971, 0.237 / 0.260 / 0.464
    Jim Tobin, 6, 1942, 0.246 / 0.344 / 0.421
    Jack Harshman, 6, 1956, 0.169 / 0.277 / 0.437
    Hal Schumacher, 6, 1934, 0.239 / 0.258 / 0.453
    Fergie Jenkins, 6, 1971, 0.243 / 0.282 / 0.478
    Earl Wilson, 6, 1965, 0.177 / 0.301 / 0.405
    Carlos Zambrano, 6, 2006, 0.151 / 0.160 / 0.397
    Tony Cloninger, 5, 1966, 0.234 / 0.261 / 0.414
    Don Drysdale, 5, 1961, 0.193 / 0.244 / 0.386
    Don Cardwell, 5, 1960, 0.208 / 0.208 / 0.416
    Dizzy Trout, 5, 1944, 0.271 / 0.317 / 0.429
    Bob Lemon, 5, 1948, 0.286 / 0.331 / 0.487
    Bob Lemon, 5, 1956, 0.194 / 0.272 / 0.355
    Bob Gibson, 5, 1965, 0.240 / 0.261 / 0.404
    Bob Gibson, 5, 1972, 0.194 / 0.202 / 0.398
    Art Nehf, 5, 1924, 0.228 / 0.302 / 0.509

  24. Jenkins was a terrible hitter, except for that one year when me must have kep lifting the ball into Wrigley's winds. I used to think that Seaver was jobbed in the Cy Young voting in 1971, but if you include a pitcher's offense (and I think you should) then Jenkins was better.

  25. John Autin Says:

    @22, Dvd Avins -- Actually, given how often people write my name as "Austin," being called "Mike" was kind of a refreshing change of pace. I took no offense.

    As to your question in general ... while I am no more an expert on etiquette than Larry "Bud" Melman was a lawyer, I would say that any time you even ask yourself "is an apology appropriate?", it's probably appropriate. :)

  26. Your pitching list left off Mike Hampton in 2001 with 7 homers because he fell just short of the 75% (43/58), but all 7 were hit in games where he was the starting pitcher, so he deserves an honorable mention.

  27. Still another odd thing about Dixie Howell: his major league career (as measured from his debut to his last game) lasted 17.5 years; and he died aged 40. That means that his career was 43% of his lifetime: is this a record?

  28. John Autin Says:

    @28, Pete R. -- Good point about Dixie Howell. I don't know what the "record" is in that regard, but it's not him. Roberto Clemente died at 38 having played 18 seasons in the majors, over 47% of his lifespan.

  29. Anthony Rizzo
    Jerry Brooks
    Curtis Pride
    Claude Hendrix
    JR Phillips (HR, 3B, 2B, 1B)
    Carlos Perez
    Ken Hubbs
    Bill Hall (HR, 3B, 2B, 1B)
    Todd Dunwoody

  30. Frank Ernaga first 8 hits 2 cycles

  31. [...] Anthony Rizzo and the fewest hits for a career cycle (Baseball-Reference). Speaking of Rizzo… [...]

  32. John Autin Says:

    @30-31, Charles -- Excellent! Thank you very much.

    Frank Ernaga, what an amazing story. All he did in his big-league debut was hit a HR and a triple -- against Warren Spahn, who would win the Cy Young Award that year! And in his 2nd start, a HR and a double against Juan Pizarro. His next hit was a triple, so his first 5 hit were all XBH.

  33. John Autin Says:

    @30 -- Hard to believe that Todd Dunwoody gets mentioned 3 times in a week in these pages!

  34. Jose Moreno
    Brandon Berger
    Buster Maynard
    Frank Welch
    Johnny Allen

    Greg Walker 8 hits 2 cycles (lead off 2nd year with a triple)
    Gerald Williams 16 hits 3 cycles (3 HR's first season, 3 3B's second)

  35. Eddie Pellagrini (5th hit a homer)
    Lloyd Merriman
    Starlin Castro (HR 3B 2B 1B)
    Bill Russell (1st 2 games)

  36. John Autin Says:

    Charles, I hope that you're compiling this all in a safe place for presentation at a future SABR convention!