Never-ending Story: Where Trevor Story's start ranks in MLB history
The never-ending tale of Trevor Story’s career-opening home run binge continues. Since starting the season by becoming the first major leaguer ever to homer in each of his first three major league games—and the first player of any experience level to hit four homers in his team’s first three games—the Rockies rookie has added three more homers, pushing himself into even more rarified air.
Last Friday, making his Coors Field debut, the 23-year-old rookie hit a pair of longballs against the Padres, though Colorado wound up on the short end of a 13–6 drubbing. In addition to furthering his career-starting record to four straight games with a home run, that made Story the first player ever to collect two multi-homer games within his first four in the majors. The Royals’ Mark Quinn, one of four other players besides Story to homer twice in his debut, collected his second twofer in his seventh big-league game back in 1999. What's more, Story became the fifth player to homer in each of his team's first four games of a season, joining the Giants' Willie Mays (1971), the Cardinals' Mark McGwire ('98), the Rangers' Nelson Cruz (2011) and the Orioles' Chris Davis ('13).
Story went homerless in Saturday’s 16–3 loss to San Diego, though he did keep his hitting streak intact. On Sunday, the power was on again, as Story hit an eighth-inning solo shot off Brandon Maurer in the Rockies’ 6–3 win. Here’s a StatCast-flavored look at his rapidly-growing collection of homers:
So far, five of Story’s seven homers have been estimated at more than 400 feet, with a sixth at 397. His longest thus far was his third, a 433-footer off of the Diamondbacks' Shelby Miller. Given that Arizona's Chase Field has the majors’ second-highest elevation (1,082 feet) behind Coors Field (5,200 feet), it’s fair to say that some of what Story is doing owes to high altitude, but even so, the lofty perch that he now occupies is impressive.
First, there’s the rookie aspect. Prior to Story’s arrival, the record for the most homers hit by a player in his first seven games belonged to Red Sox designated hitter Sam Horn, who in 1987 homered in his first, second, fifth and sixth games for a total of four. Horn, who had bashed 30 homers in 94 games at Triple A before being called up on July 25 of that year, wound up hitting 14 in a 46-game rookie season in Boston—the most by any player in 50 or fewer games. Stardom was not forthcoming for him, however. He hit just two homers for the Red Sox in 1988 and '89, spending more time with Triple A Pawtucket than with Boston. Horn hit 14 homers for the Orioles in 1990 and 23 the next season, but he scattered just nine more in sporadic playing time over the next four years while playing for the Indians, Pirates and Rangers. Horn detoured to Mexico, Taiwan (where he hit the first home run in Taiwan Major League history in 1997) and the independent Atlantic League before finishing his career in 2001.
Story has not only surpassed the rarely-remembered Horn, but he's also set a record for the most homers in a team’s first six games by a player of any experience level. The previous record of six is shared by an impressive trio: Mays in 1964, the Phillies’ Mike Schmidt in '76 and the Rockies’ Larry Walker in '97—two first-ballot Hall of Famers and a player who has Cooperstown-worthy credentials.
All three of those sluggers used their opening bursts as springboards to league-leading totals during the season in question. In '64 Mays homered twice against fellow future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn on Opening Day and wound up hitting an NL-high 47 that year. Schmidt didn’t homer until Philadelphia's second game in '76; in the fifth game of the season, a wild 18–16 win in 10 innings at Wrigley Field, he became the eighth player ever to hit four homers in one game. He added another the next day and finished with an NL-leading 38. Walker went homerless on Opening Day in '97 but hit one in each of Colorado's next three games, then scored a hat trick against the Expos, his former team. All of those home runs came on the road, as did another 23 of his NL-high 49 that year en route to MVP honors.
So what’s next for Story? He has a bit of breathing room to set the record for being the fastest player to eight career homers. The Blue Jays’ Carlos Delgado needed a comparatively generous 15 games to get there, following two homerless games after his 1993 call-up by hitting eight in his first 13 games in April of '94. Ex-Red Sox slugger George Scott was the fastest to nine, 10 and 11 homers: In 1966, he reached the first of those marks in 18 games, go to the second in 21 games and reached the third in 26.
As for the most homers by a rookie in April (or rather March and April, given that Opening Day has sometimes arrived early in recent years) in one season, the White Sox's Jose Abreu set the record just two years ago with 10. Meanwhile, the single-season record for the most in those months by a player of any experience level is 14, by the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols in 2006 and the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez in 2007. The most for any Rockies player in March and April is 11, a record shared by Walker (1997 and again in 2001) and Vinny Castilla ('98).
Story may not wind up joining the company of those noted sluggers, but at the very least, it's tough to see him relinquishing Colorado's starting shortstop job anytime soon, no matter what length of suspension commissioner Rob Manfred levies upon incumbent Jose Reyes relating to his domestic violence case. Even though Reyes is still owed $48 million over the next two seasons, the Rockies have very little incentive to mix one of the season's most negative, uh, sagas with one of the most positive.