A milestone home run was hit in last night’s 8-3 loss to the Red Sox, but it’s not getting the attention it deserves. It was hit by a player who has helped to stabilize an offense that struggled early and who has a chance to break a team home run record that has lasted for over 20 years.
Yes, that’s right, Jorge Bonifacio became just the 18th Royals rookie in the 49 years the team has been in existence to hit 10 home runs in a season. Before we get too deep into this, I just want everyone to know that I will pursue legal action if my shirt idea is stolen to commemorate this event.
“Bonifac10” is mine and you can’t have it.
The pitch that history was made on was an 82 MPH slider from Chris Sale on a 2-2 offering in the ninth inning. It sailed 436 feet just to the left of center field to begin the Royals comeback off the Red Sox ace, a comeback that was thwarted by a Travis Wood game ending double play. Memorable? Yeah, I’d say so.
Bonifacio joins an illustrious list of Royals greats who have achieved the feat that includes three players he’s proud to call a teammate. He wouldn’t say it, but this was the crowning moment of his big league career to date.
Such greats as Carlos Febles, Angel Berroa and Jon Nunnally have preceded Bonifacio in this milestone. So yeah, I’d say this is a big deal.
Here’s the list:
Twice, it’s happened by multiple players in the same season (1969 and 1999, so look out 2029). There are some fun names on that list. Who could forget Bob “The Hammer” Hamelin and his ridiculous rookie season that the strike cut short? I’m still convinced that if not for that strike, he would have been the guy to break Balboni’s record at some point. It might not have been in 1994, though it might have, but I remember stories about how the strike and the time off led to him getting even more out of shape.
That’s clearly Carlos Beltran, who is putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career right now. He is a .280/.352/.490 hitter with 431 career home runs (by far the most of any Royals rookie to pop 10 in a season). His defense has taken a hit as he’s aged, but man was he good. And he could really steal a base back in the day.
I think Alex Gordon should at least get an honorable mention because while he’s not Beltran, he’s had a really, really good career with the Royals. Plus, I don’t see a ring on Beltran’s finger anywhere.
There are far too many great candidates for this, but I’d have to go with Ken Harvey. The .274/.322/.411 lifetime batting line doesn’t tell the story as it occurred during such an incredible offensive era that those numbers aren’t even at the beginning of passable. Oh yeah, he fought the tarp and the tarp won. He was a poor defensive first baseman too, which is sort of like saying he was the heaviest dude at fat camp. Bet you thought we’d moved on from Hamelin.
Biggest What If
It’s clearly Bo here, even though the career numbers are just sort of whatever. He never really learned to work a walk, but in 1990 his walk rate went up while his strikeout rate dropped. If his .272/.342/.523 line was an indication of things to come, he was about to take off. Of course, he got hurt playing football and played parts of just three more seasons with the White Sox and Angels and now we’ll never know. Mark Quinn should get an honorable mention here, mostly because I wonder if there could be a season with 600 plate appearances and zero walks drawn.
Where will Bonifacio fit in? That’s up in the air, much like all 10 of his home runs. But we know he joined a sacred group last night, and for that, he should be celebrated.