I came upon this video on YouTube at random. It was a grand day for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1993.
I remember the day pretty well, as I was still living in St. Louis at the time. Whiten went 4-5 with 4 home runs and 12 RBIs. The Cardinals won the game 15-2.
At the time of this game, there were a lot of hopes that the Cardinals had absolutely stolen Mark Whiten from the Cleveland Indians and he was going to become a power hitting centerpiece for the Cardinals in the future. He finished the year with 25 home runs and 99 RBIs, both career highs from his previous of 9 and 43.
Alas, that didn't quite become true, as Whiten hit only 14 home runs the next year (albeit it was the strike shortened 1994 season) and was traded to the Red Sox a year later. He hit only 60 more home runs in this career after 1993.
It got me thinking. Is Mark Whiten the most unexpected person in major league history to hit 4 home runs in a game? He hit only 105 home runs in his career, hitting over 20 home runs in a year only twice, topping out at 25 in 1993. He never made an All Star team and never showed up on an MVP ballot.
In the modern era, the following players have hit four home runs in a game.
Lou Gehrig, Chuck Klein, Pat Seerey, Gil Hodges, Joe Adcock, Rocky Colavito, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Bob Horner, Mark Whiten, Mike Cameron, Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado, Josh Hamilton
Lou Gehrig, Chuck Klein, Willie Mays, and Mike Schmidt are Hall of Famers and great power hitters from their time. So lets concentrate on the rest.
Seerey never made an All Star team and hit a total of 86 home runs in his career. He topped 20 home runs only once, topping at 26 home runs in 1946. Looks like we have a challenger to Whiten.
A star player during his era, Hodges hit 370 home runs, made 8 All Star teams, and topped 30 home runs 6 times, 40 home runs 2 times.
Adcock was a 1 time All Star who hit 336 career home runs. He topped 30 home runs only twice, hitting a max of 38 in 1956.
Known more for the well known curse, Colavito hit 374 career home runs and was a six time All Star. He topped 30 home runs 7 times and 40 home runs 3 times.
Horner was a one time All Star who hit 218 career home runs, topping 30 home runs three times and 20 home runs seven times. His retired somewhat early at the age of 30, so his home run total should really be higher.
Cameron is an interesting entry on this list, as he was more known as a defensive player. However, he did make one All Star team and hit 278 career home runs. He topped 30 home runs only once but hit more than 20 home runs 8 times.
A two time All Star, Shawn Green hit 328 career home runs, topping 30 home runs four times and 40 home runs three times.
Delgado is a border line Hall of Fame candidate who hit 473 home runs in his career, hitting over 30 home runs 11 times. He made two All Star teams.
The only active player on this list, he currently has 192 career home runs. He has topped 30 home runs three times and 40 home runs once. At the time of this writing he's a five time All Star and 1 time MVP.
Well, it really comes down to Pat Seerey and Mark Whiten.
Pat Seerey probably takes the crown of most unexpected individual to hit 4 home runs in a game. While Whiten was able to hold down a nice 10 year career in the majors with over 3500 plate appearances, Seerey wasn't quite able to muster that. He was in the majors for only 7 years and barely topped 2000 plate appearances. He had a very meager 4.3 career WAR.
Lets add Scooter Gennett to the list as well after hitting 4 home runs on June 6th this year. He's still young and has a career ahead of him, so it's hard to grade him at the moment. But he's definitely in the running with Mark Whiten and Pat Seerey for
the most unexpected individual to hit 4 home runs. Before 2017 he had 35 career home runs scattered over 4 years, maxing out with 14 in
2016. He had a career .420 slugging percentage before this year as well and never hit double digits in home runs even in the minors.