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Pablo Sandoval’s three-homer game is most impressive in postseason history

Oct 25, 2012, 12:34 AM EDT

Pablo Sandoval Getty Images

Before Pablo Sandoval got to Justin Verlander twice and Al Alburquerque once for his first ever three-game game in the World Series opener, eight players in major league history had hit three homers in a postseason game:

Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1926 WS – 3-for-3, 4 RBI, 2 BB
Babe Ruth (NYY) – Game 4, 1928 WS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Bob Robertson (Pit) – Game 2, 1971 NLCS – 4-for-5, 5 RBI, 2B
Reggie Jackson (NYY) – Game 6, 1977 WS – 3-for-3, 5 RBI, BB
George Brett (KC) – Game 3, 1978 ALCS – 3-for-5, 3 RBI
Adam Kennedy (ANA) – Game 5, 2002 ALCS – 4-for-4, 5 RBI
Adrian Beltre (Tex) – Game 4, 2011 ALDS – 3-for-4, 3 RBI
Albert Pujols (StL) – Game 3, 2011 WS – 5-for-6, 6 RBI

Kennedy may yet rank as the most unlikely of the three-homer games, considering that he’s not a power hitter at all. He’s homered once in his 24 other career postseason games.

However, once factoring in the quality of the competition, Sandoval’s seems just as unlikely. And it’s the most impressive of this whole bunch.

- Including the postseason, Verlander had given up 21 homers in 262 2/3 innings this season or one every 12 2/3 innings. Sandoval hit two in four innings off him tonight.

- Albuquerque has never allowed a homer in 56 2/3 innings in the regular season. He did surrender one to Robinson Cano in the ALDS a year ago.

- No one homers in AT&T Park. The Giants hit 31 and allowed 53 there this year. Sandoval was the first person to hit three homers there since Kevin Elster did it in the park’s inaugural game 12 years ago. Only four players hit two homers in a game there this year, and the lone Giant to do it was Sandoval.

Besides Sandoval, Brett probably had the toughest assignment in getting to three homers; he was facing Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter when he did in 1978. However, it was in a losing cause in the ALCS, so that costs him some points. Jackson’s three-homer game was more crucial, coming in a Game 6 that clinched the 1977 series for the Yankees. Pujols was the one player to hit three homers and still add two more hits.

But Sandoval’s game seems to me to the most impressive of the bunch. To get to those two pitchers in that ballpark in a World Series Game is maybe the highlight of the 2012 season to date.

  1. foolmaker - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    I’d rank it somewhere in the top 3. Reggie’s might forever be unbeatable though. He had 3 home runs in 3 straight swings.

    • badintent - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      Last Homer Reggie hit was 467 feet off a slow knuckler, He had to supply all the power to drive it that huge distance to dead center field in the bleachers in Yankee Stadium.

      In other news,Barry Bonds were heard to scream,”That fat tummy Pablo, no weights, no work outs, no roids, how the hell he hit 3 homers in one game, I couldn’t hit 2 in the series !”
      Barry … it’s called A-Rodless disease. also known as Karma

      • tomemos - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:42 AM

        Barry Bonds hit four home runs in the 2002 World Series.

      • marinersnate - Oct 25, 2012 at 3:19 AM

        You can’t fix stupid.

      • bluerude - Oct 25, 2012 at 7:00 AM

        No roids? Are you sure about that? I feel the whole team is suspect. The Giants organization houses two current roids users and they housed the biggest one for many years… Barry Lamar Bonds!

    • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      I’ve got to agree with foolmaker. The Panda put on a great show on the big stage, and I don’t want to minimize what he did. However, until someone hits four home runs in four straight swings in a winning cause in the deciding game of a World Series, Reggie Jackson, no matter what you think of him personally, sits atop the pyramid wearing his crown and brandishing his scepter.

  2. historiophiliac - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    There is no charge for awesomeness.

    • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      I disagree. I got quite a charge out of it.

  3. sawxalicious - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    I think Panda’s 1st homer was on an 0-2 count. Much more impressive than a first pitch homer, IMHO….(especially off of Verlander)

    • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Too blanket. Depends on the pitch itself. If Verlander hung one, the count is irrelevant in this case. If the Panda went out or down or inside-out on a really tough pitch, another story. Looked to me like Verlander parked that particular pitch up and a little bit away, right in the Panda’s wheelhouse.

      • ccmf69 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        From the looks of things, Panda’s wheelhouse is anything in the ballpark…I’ve seen every game he’s played as a Giant, and he swings at balls over his head, below his ankles, and anyplace in between…If only he had some plate discipline (food plate, and home plate)…lol

  4. sailcat54 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Sandoval really shined in this game. However, his stellar performance should not be allowed to eclipse Zito’s strong pitching (and hitting), Scutaro’s at bats, or Crawford’s defense. It was a team win.

  5. riterboy - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    Check his bats

  6. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Odd that a sabermetrics guy would discount a dude because his team lost.

    • marinersnate - Oct 25, 2012 at 3:26 AM

      Just a thought.

      Problem with “sabermetrics guy” is they have not yet figured out that the idea is to win the world series. Not have the best “WAR”/payroll ratio.

      • adeedothatswho - Oct 25, 2012 at 3:37 AM

        You’ve heard of Bill James, right? Well he works for the Red Sox. That’s two titles right there.

      • marinersnate - Oct 25, 2012 at 3:40 AM

        And your point?

      • adeedothatswho - Oct 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        The point is that his comment is incorrect, and that sabermetrics can win titles. I thought that was obvious….but I guess not. I’ll make things more obvious for you in the future, Nate.

    • paperlions - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:25 AM

      I don’t know that I would call Mathew a “sabermetrics guy”; while he’s not a stat hater, he regularly uses OPS as a measure of performance, which true “sabermetrics guys” would regard about the same as using batting average and HR, as OPS is a worse metric than its components alone and is still incomplete as it ignores park and league effects.

  7. jayquintana - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    I could’ve sworn Chase Utley hit 3 as well. I guess not.

  8. blabidibla - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    He hit two of those dingerz into my section. I didn’t get one, but who cares. Best freaking game of my life.

  9. adeedothatswho - Oct 25, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Btw, Babe Ruth may have been fat, but he still only counts as one person. So seven guys had three homer games before the Panda.

  10. buddaley - Oct 25, 2012 at 5:30 AM

    Two other factors regarding Brett’s home runs. Although he hit them off a HOFer (who, some would say, is a marginal HOFer), Hunter had many seasons in which he gave up more than a home run every 9 innings, including 1978, his next to last season. Verlander gives up many fewer home runs than Hunter did.

    Second, Yankee Stadium was a very good park for left handed power hitters. While Brett was not a classic home run hitter like Jackson, he certainly could take advantage of the short porch in right field.

  11. leerosenthall - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    I’m still trying to figure out how he even reached the pitch on the first homer. His entire performance was jaw-dropping.

    Giants are on FIRE. I can’t recall a more decisive postseason win, by any team, given the dominance of the pitcher they were up against.

    To quote Verlander: WOW.

    • florida76 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      Reggie Jackson’s three homer night must be considered more impressive, because it clinched the Series for the Yankees. Big difference. The Tigers can still win the Series, so let’s put everything in the proper perspective.

      The most decisive postseason wins are always those which decide the Series, other Cy Young Award winners have been rocked in the playoffs before.

  12. redandgoldhitman52 - Oct 26, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    does melky cabrera get a ring if giants win world series ? he did play over 100 games this season. he helped get home field in the all star game.

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