BY MARK SIMON
Every year around this time, we use this space to take a look at home run robberies while we wait for defensive stats to accumulate to a more meaningful sample size. Home run robberies make for a fun diversion.
Kevin Kiermaier’s good at them. He had an impressive one on Tuesday to take a homer away from Kerry Carpenter of the Tigers. Kiermaier didn’t just rob a home run. He hit one that day too.
Though Kiermaier had robbed a home run either by catching a ball or keeping it in the ballpark on six previous occasions, this was the first time that Kiermaier both hit a home run and robbed one in the same game. People are usually surprised when we tell them that this combination isn’t that unusual an accomplishment.
In fact, in four of the last six instances in which a player has robbed a home run, he’s homered in that same game! That encompasses both Kiermaier and Luis Robert Jr. this season and Peyton Burdick and Manuel Margot in 2022.
We’ve tracked every home run robbery in MLB back to 2004, which gives us 20 seasons worth of data to sift through. So here’s a brief history lesson on hitting a home run and robbing one (or more) in the same game.
* On average, a player hits a home run and robs one in the same game about 5.7 times per season (103 instances from 2004 to 2022, excluding 2020, when it happened three times in the shortened season). It happened as many as 12 times in 2019 and as few as twice in 2008.
* The leader in most times hitting a home run and robbing a home run in the same game is Nick Markakis, who did it three times in his career. There are 16 players who have had two such games since 2004, including Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Mike Trout.
Two of the three for Markakis came with the Orioles, whose players have had 10 ‘hit a homer, rob a homer’ games, the most of any team in this timespan. The Angels, Athletics, and Dodgers have all had six.
Camden Yards has been the site of 10 such games, though none of Markakis’ hit one/rob one games came there.
* A batter has hit more than one home run and robbed a home run 11 times since 2004. Most recently, Judge and Juan Soto did it last season (see the catches here and here).
Not included in our data set: In 2002, Mike Cameron hit four home runs and robbed Magglio Ordóñez of a grand slam. We’d like to see someone top that! We don’t have any examples in our 20-year data set of a player robbing a grand slam and even hitting one home run that day.
* One other favorite: On April 13, 2006, Brewers left fielder Carlos Lee made a leaping catch at the fence to rob Cardinals right fielder Juan Encarnación
of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, then made another catch at the fence to take a hit from Jim Edmonds later in the inning.
Lee then homered to win the game in the top of the 11th.
“That’s baseball,” he told reporters after the game.