Major League Baseball is a game filled with quirks and anomalies. This was the case with some of the statistics published by Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees during the 1987 campaign.
Mattingly’s 1987 season was in the middle of a run where he went to six consecutive All-Star Games, finished in the top seven in American League MVP voting in four consecutive seasons, and won five consecutive Gold Gloves. while maintaining first base for the New York Yankees. He was also coming off back-to-back campaigns where he led all MLB batters in total bases (with 370 in 1985 and 388 in 1986).
However, despite all the numbers Mattingly put forward during an incredible six-season run between 1984 and 1989, he did something in 1987 that he never did in any other season…and he did. six times that year.
Don Mattingly’s home run-filled 1987 season for the New York Yankees was stunning on many levels
Yes, in the 1987 season, Mattingly won six Grand Slams to set a new MLB record. The Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks hit five in the same season in 1955, but Mattingly’s upper deck explosion on September 29, 1987 against the Boston Red Sox set a new MLB record.
Mattingly hit his six Grand Slams in 19 plate appearances with the bases loaded. He would never have hit a Grand Slam in a season before or after that in his 14-year career.
Only one other player has matched Mattingly’s Grand Slam number in a season, namely Cleveland’s Travis Hafner who hit six in 2006.
But it wasn’t just Grand Slams that Mattingly was hitting that season. He was hitting home runs in spurts, especially after a slow power start to the season and only playing 10 games in June because of a back problem. Through the end of June, Mattingly had eight homers in 59 games.
However, when the schedule moved to July, Mattingly’s home run also appeared. He hit 10 homers in July alone (24 games), including an eight-game streak with at least one homer in every game. During that eight-game streak, Mattingly posted a .459 batting average, hitting 10 homers and making 21 runs. His OPS during the streak was 1.324.
Mattingly was absolutely locked in during this run, taking out only twice.
In MLB history, only Dale Long of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1956 and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners in 1993 have joined Mattingly in homers in eight straight games. Ironically, in 1993 with Griffey started his streak, he started it with a deep workout at Yankee Stadium. In that same game, Mattingly also hit a home run.
A season. Two different home run records. Quite a 1987 season for Mattingly and the Yankees.