Breaking down all the inside-the-park homers since 2001
Some argue that the mad dash around the bases known as the inside-the-park home run is the most exciting play in baseball. Watch enough highlights of them and it's difficult to disagree. While they usually require an element of luck, inside-the-parkers also nearly guarantee a sustained 15-20 seconds of glorious hustle from the hitter. That makes them a joy to watch.
There have been 11 inside-the-park home runs so far in 2018. Where do these bizarro home runs occur the most? And which teams and players have displayed a strange knack for these hits-turned-homers? This is the history of the inside-the-parker since 2001:
There have been 224 regular-season inside-the-park home runs since the start of the 2001 season -- a little under 13 per season, on average. The most recent was Brandon Nimmo's sprint around the Coors Field bases on June 18:
Known for its hitter-friendly environment and spacious outfield, it's no surprise that Coors Field has seen its fair share of inside-the-parkers over the last 18 years. Nimmo's was the 10th over that span. But 10 only ties Coors for 5th among ballparks, behind Fenway Park, Chase Field, Miller Park, and Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium is the only ballpark that boasts more outfield grass than Coors Field, and those extra square feet have clearly made a difference. The Royals' home has seen 16 regular-season inside-the-parkers since 2001 -- the most of any ballpark -- and that doesn't even include arguably the most memorable inside-the-parker in recent memory: Alcides Escobar's on the very first pitch of the 2015 World Series.
Other stadiums haven't been as friendly to brave baserunners looking to stretch a regular triple into something more special. Two parks in particular have had an especially long drought: Safeco Field and Oakland Coliseum.
While every other ballpark in baseball has seen an inside-the-parker since 2010 (with the exception of Atlanta's SunTrust Park, which has yet to see one at all but is only a couple seasons old), these two AL West parks haven't seen one since 2006!
Oakland's last inside-the-parker was courtesy of a young rookie on the Rangers named Nelson Cruz, who hustled around the bases for his third career homer on Sept. 4, 2006:
Cruz has gone on to prefer the over-the-fence variety of home run throughout his big league career.
Seattle, meanwhile, last witnessed an inside-the-parker on July 23, 2006. The hitter? Adrian Beltre. The outfielders involved? Coco Crisp and Manny Ramirez. It does not disappoint:
These two wonderful highlights also serve as a crucial reminder that this eclectic genre of dinger truly can happen to anyone. Cruz and Beltre aren't the only slower players to have an inside-the-parker on record. Pedro Alvarez has one! Carlos Santana has one! Prince Fielder has two!
On the flip side, some of the game's fastest players have gone entire careers without a single inside-the-parker. These are the players we most associate with sprinting around the bases, whether it be on triples or stolen base attempts, and they've never had the opportunity to round them all with reckless abandon.
As if there aren't enough incredible Ichiro facts already, here's another one: Yes, the man with 509 career stolen bases and 96 career triples never hit an inside-the-park home run during his MLB career. (Outside of the All-Star Game, anyway.)
The inherit chaos in these plays guarantees that they will never cease to entertain. Of course we dig the old-fashioned dinger. But sometimes the dingers that stay in the yard can be every bit as enjoyable.