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Top five home run hitting pitchers in MLB history
Major League Baseball pitchers aren't known for hitting home runs. When one does, it usually makes highlights for that evening's sports report. Even more rare are pitchers who do something remarkable such as hit a grand slam home run or hit multiple homers in a game. When Jake Westbrook(notes) of the St. Louis Cardinals belted a grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers Aug. 31, ESPN reported St. Louis became the first team to have a pitcher hit a grand slam home run in consecutive seasons dating back to October of 2009.
Here are the top five pitchers who could hit the long ball with amazing regularity.
Jim Tobin wasn't known for hitting a lot of career home runs. But he did have a remarkable feat unequaled by any modern Major League pitcher. Tobin hit three home runs as a pitcher for the Boston Braves against the Chicago Cubs May 13, 1942 . His team needed every last one of his four RBIs as they won 6-5. Tobin also picked up his fifth victory on the young season. Otherwise, Tobin's career was unremarkable in the annals of MLB lore.
Wes Ferrell was a starting pitcher for 10 of his 15 seasons in Major League Baseball. Over the course of his career from 1927 to 1941, he hit a Major League Baseball record 37 home runs. Remarkably, he was also a .280 hitter with 329 hits with 1,176 at bats. Ferrell hit 36 dingers in the National League, also a career record. Ferrell also had five instances of hitting two home runs in one game, the most any pitcher.
Warren Spahn became a hall of famer in 1973 after 21 illustrious seasons in Major League Baseball. At the time of his induction, he was the winningest left-handed pitcher with 363 victories. His batting average was .194, still better than most modern pitchers. Spahn holds the record for most career home runs in the American League at 35.
Red Ruffing was one of the most successful pitchers and hitters in the game of baseball. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967. Ruffing played 22 seasons from 1924 to 1947 when he took three years off in the early 1940s. Ruffing had four 20-win seasons in a row from 1936 to 1939. He also had nine seasons where he hit above .300. In 1930, he even hit .374 with 15 hits in 99 at-bats. Ruffing also hit 36 home runs in his career, but not all of them counted towards a pitcher hitting a home run. Those only count when pitchers hit a home run in a line up as a pitcher. Ruffing was also a noted pinch hitter.
Babe Ruth deserves a mention simply because he started his career as a pitcher until it was discovered he had a penchant for hitting. Ruth had 20-win seasons in 1916 and 1917, both years in which he hit just five home runs total in two seasons. Imagine what Ruth could have done had he begun hitting sooner rather than later in his career. Ruth's breakout year was 1919 when he hit 29 home runs and had a 9-5 record. At that point, he was pitching less and less and playing the outfield instead like many converted pitchers-to-fielders.
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