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Ichiro's HR highlights 2016's one-time events

If you followed the 2016 MLB season, chances are you saw Max Scherzer register a strikeout, Kris Bryant launch a homer and Billy Hamilton swipe a base. Those were just a few of the notable events that occurred regularly throughout the year.

Then there were the sort of accomplishments that were much more difficult to catch -- because they happened only once.

If you followed the 2016 MLB season, chances are you saw Max Scherzer register a strikeout, Kris Bryant launch a homer and Billy Hamilton swipe a base. Those were just a few of the notable events that occurred regularly throughout the year.

Then there were the sort of accomplishments that were much more difficult to catch -- because they happened only once.

Here is a look at 10 prominent players (five hitters, five pitchers) who did something just one time in 2016.


Home run: Ichiro Suzuki, Marlins
There has long been a questionable theory that Ichiro could have hit a lot more home runs, only if he had wanted to. But his career has turned out just fine despite a total of 114 roundtrippers, with the future Hall of Famer crossing the 3,000-hit mark in 2016. This also was the third straight season in which he has hit exactly one homer, and of all the players with that total, only Seattle's Ketel Marte had more than Ichiro's 327 at-bats. For good measure, the two-run shot off Philadelphia's Hector Neris on Sept. 6 was his first long ball in 150 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter and broke a homerless streak of nearly 700 plate appearances dating back to April '15.

Opposite-field home run: Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays
Tulowitzki didn't lack power, belting 24 homers and slugging .443, but he didn't exactly spread that power around. He hit .413 and slugged .904 when pulling the ball, and 23 of his homers went to dead center or left field. On Aug. 16, however, Tulowitzki took advantage of the short porch at Yankee Stadium, driving Anthony Swarzak's hanging slider just over the right-field wall, not far from the line. With a projected distance of only 344 feet, it was Tulowitzki's second-shortest big fly of the Statcast™ era.

Video: TOR@NYY: Tulowitzki drives a two-run tater to right

Triple: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Of all the accomplishments Ortiz put together in his farewell season, this might have been the most amazing -- though he also stole two bases. When Big Papi stepped to the plate in a high-leverage spot against the Astros' Luke Gregerson on May 14, it had been nearly three years since his last triple. But with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and Xander Bogaerts on first as the potential tying run, Ortiz launched a fly ball to center that sliced away from a diving Jake Marisnick. Ortiz motored to third in 13.05 seconds with the game-tying RBI, setting up his walk-off double two innings later.

Video: HOU@BOS: Ortiz ties game in 9th with triple

Stolen base: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
During Beltre's six seasons with Texas, Rangers fans have been able to count on him for solid offensive production, nifty defense and lots of fun antics. Oh, and stealing exactly one base per year. Since joining the club in 2011, Beltre has swiped one -- and only one -- bag each season. No other player has more than three such qualified seasons during that span. Beltre waited until Sept. 11 to fulfill his 2016 quota, taking advantage of a napping Jered Weaver by getting out to a 43-foot secondary lead. It was one of only two attempts, out of 242 stolen base opportunities.

Video: TEX@LAA: Beltre picks up first stolen base of season

3-0 ball in play: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Harper is a dangerous and patient hitter who was walked 232 times over the past two seasons, so it's no surprise that he almost never offers on a 3-0 count. He did so only five times out of an MLB-high 70 chances in 2016, including 18 pitches within the strike zone. When a Harper plate appearance ended on a 3-0 pitch, he was 0-for-1 with 41 free passes and one unlucky line drive. Facing the Mets' Noah Syndergaard on Sept. 2, Harper hacked at a 97.9-mph fastball over the middle and connected with a 110.9 mph exit velocity (his fourth-hardest of the season) and a 13-degree launch angle. Similar balls carry an expected batting average of .862, but this one rocketed straight at right fielder Jay Bruce.

Video: WSH@NYM: Harper lines out sharply to right field


Home run allowed: Zach Britton, Orioles
It's very difficult to drive the ball in the air against Britton, a significant reason why the sinker specialist notched 47 saves with a 0.54 ERA. The lefty struck out more than a batter per inning and blew away the rest of baseball with an 80-percent ground-ball rate. Statcast™ tracked only seven balls hit off Britton with a projected distance of more than 340 feet, including one at 390-plus. That came way back on April 11, when Boston's Mookie Betts jumped on a 3-2 sinker just above the knees and roped it into the Green Monster seats during Britton's fourth appearance of the season.

Video: BAL@BOS: Betts hits a solo homer in the 9th

Stolen base allowed: David Price, Red Sox
From 2010-14, opposing basestealers went, on average, 13-for-20 against Price. But in the two seasons since, the lefty has shut down the running game almost completely (1-for-4). There were 333 plate appearances this season in which Price was on the mound and a runner was on first or second with the next base open. That put him in a tie for second in the Majors in steal opportunities faced, yet only three runners (0.9 percent) tested him. The only one to succeed did so by a narrow margin, as the Rangers' Ian Desmond just beat a strong throw from Sandy Leon on July 5.

Video: TEX@BOS: Desmond swipes second base in the 1st

Ground-ball double play: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
Jansen led the Majors with a 0.67 WHIP, which means few batters reached base against him. Even when they did, Jansen's 30-percent ground-ball rate was one of MLB's lowest, making double plays unlikely. So it follows that in the past six seasons, the Dodgers closer has induced more than one of them just once, in 2013. The only one Jansen got in '16 came at an opportune time, as he closed out a May 13 game against the Cardinals by forcing Matt Holliday into a 6-4-3 with two runners aboard.

Video: STL@LAD: Seager, Kendrick turn two to end the game

Hit by pitch: Jeff Samardzija, Giants
A lot changed for Samardzija from 2015 to '16. He switched leagues and teams (White Sox to Giants) and dropped his ERA more than a full run (4.96 to 3.81). He also inflicted much less damage on opposing hitters. Samardzija hit 12 batters in '15, one off the MLB lead, but cut that to one this year despite facing 126 more batters than any other pitcher who had one or fewer. The unlucky recipient was Arizona's Jean Segura, who took a sailing two-seamer off the left arm on July 8.

Video: ARI@SF: Segura gets hit by a pitch from Samardzija

0-2 extra-base hit: Jake Arrieta, Cubs
Arrieta is a difficult guy to face in general, posting MLB's lowest opponent slugging percentage in each of the past two seasons. The task becomes even more daunting once the batter is in an 0-2 hole. Arrieta ended 89 plate appearances with an 0-2 pitch in 2016, racked up 49 strikeouts and surrendered only seven hits (.079 average). Just one went for extra bases, and it came on Aug. 6 from the A's Yonder Alonso, who has a .178 career slugging percentage in that count. But Arrieta hung a belt-high curveball, and Alonso crushed it to the right-center-field wall for a double.

Video: CHC@OAK: Alonso doubles into the gap in the second

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.