Grand Slams by the #3 Hitter (with a catch)

On April 26 of last year, Matt Kemp accomplished one of the rarest feats you'll see on a ball field. He batted third, and he still managed to hit a grand the first inning.

Traditionally, the best hitters in baseball inhabit the #3 spot in the order. From Cobb to Ruth to Williams to Pujols, it's one thing that hasn't changed much in baseball history. In fact, even notorious anti-traditionalist Tony LaRussa responded to questions about batting Pujols 4th with, "“Where did Stan hit? I’ll leave it that,” (per Derrick Goold). So this is a time-honored tradition, even among the baseball heathens. The downside, and the source of questions about where Pujols should hit, is that you aren't maximizing the potential baserunners for your stud hitter out of the gate. You don't get to see that first inning, bases loaded, best hitter at the plate scenario that gets fans on their feet early. Or at least not very often. As such, there has always been a counter-movement to hit the best hitter 4th, especially when he specializes in power.

It is, however, possible for the #3 hitter to come up with the bases loaded in the first inning by his team batting around, and it does happen occasionally. Very occasionally, but it does happen. Since 1954, it's happened 42 times. Who are the hitters, besides Kemp, who've managed to settle, for 1 at bat at least, the debate of 3rd or 4th by providing the best of both? Who else has hit a first inning grand slam from the 3-spot?

There are only 3 others post-1954 to do it. The most recent before Kemp was Travis Hafner, on August 13, 2006. Before him, it was Chipper Jones, on October 5, 2001. Then, it's way back to 1964, when Billy Williams did the trick in a May 1 game against the Colts. And that's it. So there's your obscure exclusive list of the day: 1 Hall of Famer, 1 future Hall of Famer, 1 promising young outfielder, and some guy named Pronk.

By the way, Pujols did have one such opportunity, on May 8, 2005. What was he able to do when the pitcher absolutely had to throw strikes? He walked, of course.


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