Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

The 25 greatest offensive runs in MLB history

MLB.com @_dadler

Sometimes a hitter puts together a run so good -- whether it lasts a week, a month, or even a season or postseason -- that fans all around baseball can't help but be wowed.

Matt Carpenter is just the latest example. Carpenter homered in six straight games from July 14-21 to tie the Cardinals' franchise record set by Mark McGwire, and in the middle of it all came one of the best single-game performances ever.

Sometimes a hitter puts together a run so good -- whether it lasts a week, a month, or even a season or postseason -- that fans all around baseball can't help but be wowed.

Matt Carpenter is just the latest example. Carpenter homered in six straight games from July 14-21 to tie the Cardinals' franchise record set by Mark McGwire, and in the middle of it all came one of the best single-game performances ever.

Carpenter's three-homer, two-double game against the Cubs on Friday was only the second game of its kind in Major League history. It also tied the MLB record for most extra-base hits in a game, and Carpenter became the only player to record all five extra-base hits within the first six innings. Unreal.

In honor of that run, MLB.com is looking back on 25 of the most incredible offensive stretches of all time.

RUNS TO REMEMBER
2018: Mike Trout reaches safely in 28 of 37 plate appearances

As great as Trout is year in and year out, this season he put together a run that was incredible even by his own lofty standards. Over eight games from June 11-19, Trout reached base in 28 of his 37 trips to the plate, with 16 hits (including four home runs), 11 walks and one hit-by-pitch. Trout's slash line was .696/.778/1.261, with an OPS of 2.039. No hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004 had equaled both that on-base percentage and slugging percentage in an eight-game stretch with at least 37 plate appearances. And the only other player this decade with an OPS as high as Trout's over any eight-game span was Jose Bautista in April 2011.

Video: Must C Combo: Trout flashes glove, hits two home runs

2017: Giancarlo Stanton chases 60 home runs
Stanton fell just one home run shy of 60 last season, but he was still the National League's first 50-home-run hitter in a decade, and he got there thanks to a massive power surge after closing his batting stance in late June. Stanton's peak run came from early July through late August, when he crushed 30 home runs and drove in 60 runs in a span of just 48 games -- entering September with 51 homers and setting the stage for a thrilling chase for 60 over the season's final month. Stanton's 18 homers in August alone are tied for the second-most by a player in any calendar month in Major League history.

Video: Must C Crushed: Stanton crushes 58th, 59th HRs of '17

2017: J.D. Martinez slugs the D-backs into the postseason
Stanton wasn't the only National League hitter mashing homers late last season. Martinez, after his July trade to Arizona, went on an absolute tear. With the D-backs chasing their first playoff berth since 2011, Martinez crushed 16 homers in September, all of them coming in a 21-game span from Sept. 2-27. That, of course, included his memorable four-homer game on Sept. 4 against the division-rival Dodgers, which made him just the 18th player in Major League history to homer four times in a game. By the time the season ended, Martinez had 45 home runs in just 119 games, and Arizona was in the playoffs.

Video: Must C Classic: Martinez hits four homers, plates six

2015: Albert Pujols hits 15 home runs, strikes out four times in 24 games
One of the greatest hitters of all-time, Pujols' prime years in St. Louis were basically one long historic run. He recaptured his vintage form for one ridiculous stretch in Anaheim in the first half of 2015. Over 24 games from May 28 to June 22, Pujols mashed 15 home runs, drove in 30 runs and struck out just four times in 100 plate appearances. Pujols slashed .352/.430/.898 in that span, and the run helped him earn his 10th career All-Star selection, as he finished the first half tied with his teammate Trout for the American League lead in home runs, with 26.

Video: HOU@LAA: Pujols smashes his second homer of the game

2015: Bryce Harper kick-starts his MVP campaign
Harper fully came into his own in 2015, when he ran away with the NL MVP as a unanimous choice at just 22 years old. The run that launched his historic season came in early May, when Harper erupted with a three-home run game against the Marlins on May 6 and followed it with one of the most torrid dozen-game stretches baseball has ever seen. From May 6-19, Harper slashed .535/.630/1.349 with a 1.978 OPS over 54 plate appearances, homering 10 times in those 12 games, ripping 23 hits in total and walking 11 times.

Video: Must C Classic: Harper hammers three homers

2013: Alfonso Soriano catches fire in August
Soriano returned to the Yankees in 2013 at age 37 to finish out his career, and during that second stint with New York, he gave the fans one last memorable flash of the electricity he once displayed as a young second baseman in the Bronx. In a four-game stretch that August, which included one game against the archrival Red Sox, Soriano ripped 13 hits in 18 at-bats (a .722 average), with five home runs and 18 RBIs. He had at least three hits in each of the four games, as well as a six-RBI and seven-RBI game. Soriano became the first player in Major League history with at least 13 hits and 18 RBIs in a four-game span.

Video: Soriano's bat collects 18 RBIs, 13 hits in four games

2006: Ryan Howard blows past 50 home run mark
Before Stanton in 2017, Howard was the one chasing 60 home runs back in 2006 during the Phillies slugger's MVP season. Although he finished the year with 58, in early September, after Howard's hottest stretch of the season, it sure looked like he might get there. Sitting on 43 home runs entering play on Aug. 23, Howard crushed 13 over the following 16 games -- a stretch that included a three-homer game on Sept. 3 and was capped by a two-homer game to reach 56 on Sept. 8. Howard hit .464/.569/1.214 with a 1.784 OPS over more than two weeks.

Video: ATL@PHI: Howard goes deep three times for 50, 51, 52

1968: Willie Mays hits 10 homers in eight games
The Say Hey Kid had more than one amazing hot streak in his Hall of Fame career, but it's hard to top the one he had in May 1968. The Giants legend homered 10 times and drove in 20 runs in just eight games from May 9-17, hitting .515/.579/1.576 with a 2.155 OPS. (He even stole four bases for good measure.) And that was just the most torrid part of a near month-long stretch -- in 27 games from May 9 through June 6, Mays hit .478/.516/.983, with a 1.498 OPS. Mays would go on to be the runner-up for the NL MVP Award that year.

MONTHS FOR THE AGES
September 2004: Ichiro Suzuki sets the single-season hits record

Many of baseball's longstanding single-season records have been challenged over the years, only to see the contenders fall off the necessary pace as the season goes on. Not so with Ichiro in 2004, when he shattered George Sisler's 84-year-old hits record with 262. Ichiro entered September with 212 hits -- 45 shy of Sisler's 257 -- and earned his place in the record books with 50 base knocks over the final month of the season. Ichiro was actually just as incredible in August -- he had 56 hits -- but in September, there was history on the line.

Video: MLB Tonight: A look back on Ichiro's storied career

September 2001: Barry Bonds sets the single-season home run record
During his four straight MVP seasons from 2001-04, Bonds obliterated many of baseball's statistical benchmarks. But his crowning achievement was, of course, his 73 home run season in '01. Bonds' final month of the season wasn't just the one where he set the single-season record; it was also simply his best of the year. The Giants slugger hit 16 home runs down the stretch to pass Mark McGwire's mark of 70 in the season's final days. In his 27 games from Sept. 1 through the end of the season, Bonds hit .403/.607/1.078 with a 1.685 OPS.

Video: LAD@SF: Barry Bonds hits his 73rd homer of the season

May 2000: Todd Helton bats .512
Helton was at the peak of his powers in the first year of the new millennium, and never more so than in May. The Rockies first baseman hit .512, notching 42 hits (including 11 home runs) in 82 at-bats, and he had a 1.588 OPS over 102 total plate appearances. Helton's batting average that May was the highest by any player with 100-plus plate appearances in a calendar month since 1920 (when Sisler hit .526 in June). And his OPS is the third-highest all-time in any such month, behind only Bonds' September 2001 and August '04.

June 1998: Sammy Sosa goes off in the heat of the home run race
McGwire ended up the winner of the great home run race of 1998, but it was Sosa who won the MVP Award, nearly unanimously over Big Mac. Sosa, who had the most historic individual stretch within the season, belted 20 of his 66 home runs in June, the most home runs ever in a single month of a Major League season. Sosa's June included a three-home run game on June 15, as well as three other multi-homer games.

Video: ARI@CHC: Sosa blasts his 20th homer of June

September 1980: Rickey Henderson steals 34 bases to reach 100
The Man of Steal had his breakout season in 1980. It was Henderson's first of three 100-plus-steal seasons in his Hall of Fame career, and he got to the century mark in dramatic fashion. When September began, Henderson had 66 steals. He proceeded to swipe 34 bags over the final month -- the most ever in one month of a season -- including two on the penultimate day of the season to end the year at 100 on the dot.

August 1930: Hack Wilson drives in 53 runs
Wilson's 191 RBIs in 1930 has stood as the single-season record for close to 90 years now, and it might well never be broken. The Cubs center fielder reached that mark on the strength of a monster August, in which he drove in 53 runs while also batting .398 and hitting 13 home runs. No one has ever notched more RBIs in a month, with fellow Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio the only other player to equal Wilson's 53, in August 1939.

July 1912: Ty Cobb gets 67 hits while batting over .500
Major League Baseball's longtime hit king until Pete Rose finally surpassed him, Cobb had the best single month of his career in that category in July 1912. The Georgia Peach recorded 67 hits in 30 games, batting an incredible .528 for the full month. His 67 hits are tied for the most all-time in a month with his own July 1922 and Tris Speaker's July '23, but Cobb's 67 in '12 came in the fewest games and plate appearances, as well as with the highest batting average.

THE STREAKS
Hitting streaks

Joe DiMaggio, Yankees -- 56 games, 1941
Pete Rose, Reds -- 44 games, 1978

No list of the best stretches of all-time would be complete without mentioning baseball's historic hitting streaks. DiMaggio and Rose have the two longest of the modern era, and DiMaggio's 56 might stand forever. No one's even come within 10 games of The Yankee Clipper since he set the mark, not even Rose, MLB's all-time hits leader. In this millennium, the longest hitting streak is Jimmy Rollins' 38 games with the Phillies from 2005-06.

Eight straight games with a home run
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners -- July 20-28, 1993
Don Mattingly, Yankees -- July 8-18, 1987
Dale Long, Pirates -- May 19-28, 1956

Video: MIN@SEA: Griffey Jr. homers in eighth-straight game

Griffey, Mattingly and Long are the only players in Major League history to homer in eight straight games. Griffey's streak actually started against Mattingly's Yankees, and Mattingly even homered in the same game. The Kid and Mattingly are both iconic players for their franchises, home run streaks aside, but Long's is his claim to fame. "Someday somebody will break it, and they'll forget me," he told the Chicago Tribune in 1986 -- but no one has yet.

Video: NYY@TEX: Mattingly homers in eighth straight game

14 straight games with an extra-base hit
Chipper Jones, Braves -- June 26 to July 16, 2006
Paul Waner, Pirates -- June 3-19, 1927

A pair of Hall of Famers, nearly eight decades apart, share this streak. Jones' was the more remarkable of the two, as it was only a part of a much longer run. The Braves third baseman's streak came in the middle of a 24-game stretch between June 24 and August 14 in which he batted .500 with 11 home runs, 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs and a 1.538 OPS.

ROOKIE RECORD-BREAKERS
2017: Judge, Bellinger smash rookie home run marks

Last year featured two of the greatest rookie seasons in MLB history. Cody Bellinger's 39 home runs for the Dodgers set a new NL rookie record, and Aaron Judge's 52 for the Yankees smashed Mark McGwire's 30-year-old AL (and MLB) record of 49. You don't get those kinds of record-setting seasons without some exceptional hot streaks. For Judge, the most impressive was how he passed McGwire -- by crushing 15 homers over his final 25 games in September. Bellinger's hottest stretch came when he launched 10 home runs in 10 games from June 10-20. During that stretch, on June 19, Bellinger first tied Gary Sanchez (2016) and Wally Berger (1930) as the fastest players ever to 20 career homers, then became the single fastest to 21 with his second home run of the game.

Video: Judge goes yard, Bellinger sets NL rookie record

2016: Trevor Story hits seven home runs in his first six career games
Story burst onto the scene in 2016 with two home runs in his MLB debut on Opening Day and didn't slow down at all. The Rockies shortstop homered at least once in each of his first four big league games, and hit his seventh home run in his sixth game -- the most homers by any player in Major League history through six career games, and the most by any player through his team's first six games of a season, surpassing the six hit by Larry Walker in 1997, Mike Schmidt in '76 and Mays in '64.

Video: Story makes history with seven homers in six games

UNBELIEVABLE POSTSEASONS
2017: George Springer's World Series

It's hard to believe that Springer started the Astros' historic seven-game World Series win over the Dodgers with a Golden Sombrero in Game 1, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Because in the six games after that, the eventual MVP of the Fall Classic was absolutely insane. Springer homered five times to tie the World Series record, with a .440/.533/1.160 slash line and 1.693 OPS from Game 2 through Game 7.

Video: Springer's five Series HRs earn him '17 WS MVP honors

2015: Daniel Murphy homers in six straight games
The Mets made it to their first World Series since the 2000 Subway Series on the strength of Murphy's historic playoff run. Murph homered in a postseason-record six straight games from Game 4 of the Division Series against the Dodgers through the clinching Game 4 of the Championship Series against the Cubs, and he hit seven home runs overall in the playoffs. Not only that, they came against a collection of the Majors' best pitchers -- two off Clayton Kershaw and one each off Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Fernando Rodney.

Video: Murphy homers in six straight, sets postseason mark

2004: Beltran, Pujols and Papi
Three of the greatest postseason performances in Major League history all came in the same year. For the Astros, Carlos Beltran tied the single-postseason record with eight home runs, including homering in five straight games, which was also a record until Murphy broke it. But Houston was eliminated by the Cardinals in a thrilling seven-game NLCS -- thanks in large part to Pujols' incredible series. Pujols batted .500 (14-for-28) with a 1.563 OPS in the series, homering four times and driving in nine runs.

But it was David Ortiz who truly stole the spotlight as he led the Red Sox to their curse-burying World Series win. Big Papi's postseason legacy was born in the ALCS against the Yankees, when he drove Boston's historic comeback from down three games to none with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning of Game 4, a walk-off single in the 14th inning of Game 5 and a home run to put the Sox in front in the first inning of Game 7. Ortiz drove in 11 runs in the series, which was then an LCS record.

Video: Papi 10 List: '04 ALCS walk-off fuels historic rally

1977: Reggie Jackson becomes Mr. October
The 1977 World Series is what earned Jackson his iconic nickname. The Yankees slugger set a record with five home runs in the Fall Classic against the Dodgers en route to World Series MVP honors, batting .450/.542/1.250 with a 1.792 OPS in New York's six-game win. The clinching Game 6 is what made him a postseason legend, as Jackson belted three home runs on three total pitches against three different Dodgers to lead the Yankees to the championship.

Video: 1977 WS Gm6: Reggie becomes Mr. October

1928: Ruth and Gehrig demolish the Cardinals
Two of the greatest hitters of all time, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were both at their pinnacle for the Yankees' 1928 World Series sweep of the Cardinals. Gehrig homered four times in the series and Ruth notched multiple hits in every game, capped by a three-homer performance in the clinching Game 4.

Gehrig's slash line in the Fall Classic: .545/.706/1.727 with a 2.433 OPS.

Ruth's: .625/.647/1.375 with a 2.022 OPS.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.