The home run hitters of baseball have been idolized by baseball fans for years, but what about those “Punch-and-Judy” hitters that just have not been able to put one out over the fence and haven’t even been lucky enough to get an inside the park home run? These guys probably could not hit one out even if you let them stand on second base and hit. A Punch-and-Judy is said of a hitter who tends to hit well-placed but weakly-hit balls for singles. The first reference was made by former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Walter Alston when asked about a home run by Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants. “When he belts a home run, he does it with such authority it seems like an act of God. You can’t cry about it. He’s not a Punch and Judy belter.”
From what I can determine, the player with the most at bats in the big leagues without ever getting a home run is Bill Holbert. Holbert was a catcher who played a little outfield and infield in 1876 and 1878-1888 with six different teams. Holbert is credited with 2,335 official at bats without hitting a single round tripper. But that was a long time ago and if you look at more modern times, the record holder is Tom “Rebel” Oliver, an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox from 1930-1933 who had 1,931 official at bats and 534 hits but not a homer in the bunch.
So let’s see who among Twins position players going back to 1961 with 100 or more at bats were or are true “Punch-and-Judy” type hitters and who had the most official at bats without a four-bagger on their Minnesota Twins resume.
Number 1 on this list is Al Newman. Newman played 2B/SS/3B for the Twins from 1987-1991 when they played in the Metrodome and Al had 1,647 at bats in a Twins uniform and he failed to hit a single home run. Newman also played for Montreal in 1985-1986 and for Texas in 1992. Between those three teams Newman had 2,107 at bats and he had one home run. Newman’s only career home run took place on July 6, 1986 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium off Atlanta Braves starter Zane Smith.
Number 2 on the list is current Twins outfielder Ben Revere. Revere has been with the Twins off and on since 2010 and during those three season he has 809 at bats through August 12, 2012 without a home run to his credit but he has a ways to go to catch up with Al Newman.
Number 3 on the list is SS/2B Houston Jiminez. Jiminez played for Minnesota in 1983-1984 and had 384 at bats in a Twins uni without a single home run. Jiminez also played for the Pirates in 1987 and the Indians in 1988. Jiminez had 411 career at bats without a homer.
Fourth on the list is SS Luis Gomez. Gomez played for the Twins from 1974-1977 and had 362 official at bats without a long ball. Gomez went on to play for the Blue Jays in 1978-1979 and the Braves in 1980-1981 but when his career ended he had 1,251 major league at bats and a “0″ in the home run column.
In the fifth spot on this list is another current Twins player, 2B/SS/3B Jamey Carroll. Through today Carroll has 352 Twins at bats and he still has not cleared the fences. Carroll is in his 11th big league season and is playing for his sixth team and he has hit 12 home runs in his 3,326 career big league at bats.
Number six on our list is catcher Junior Ortiz. Ortiz played in the big leagues for 13 seasons with 5 organizations and he did hit 5 home runs in 1,894 at bats but as a Twins catcher in 1990-1991 he had 304 at bats and not a single home run. Maybe that is why he wore the number “0″ on his back as a Minnesota Twin?
Lucky number seven on the list is yet another current Minnesota Twins player, fan favorite (NOT) Tsuyoshi Nishioka who has played 2B and SS. Nishioka has 233 big league at bats to his credit and zero home runs.
Eighth on the list is a Liriano, no, not Francisco but 2B Nelson Liriano. Nelson Liriano has 25 home runs in his 11 seasons and 2,216 at bats in the bigs but as a Minnesota Twin in 1990 he came up empty in the home run column in 185 at bats
Ninth we have another catcher, Jose Morales. Morales was with the Twins parts of 2007, 2009-2010 and hit .297 in 158 at bats but none of the long ball variety. Morales spent 2011 in Colorado and had 60 AB’s there but again came away without a home run.
Number 10 on the Twins homerless list is SS/2B Sergio Ferrer. Ferrer had zero home runs in 138 at bats as a Twin in 1974-1975. Ferrer played for the Mets in part of 1978-1979 and had 40 more at bats there with zero long balls.
Eleventh on the Twins homerless list we have 2B/3B Dan Monzon who came up void of any home runs in his 131 career big league at bats in 1972-1973 with the Minnesota Twins.
Our twelfth and final Minnesota Twins position player with 100 or more at bats with zero home runs is catcher Bruce Look. Look spent all of his 118 big league at bats with the Twins in 1968 and he had no luck hitting one out of the park.
So between these 12 position players we have 4,821 Twins at bats and not a single home run in the group. Isn’t it strange that three players (numbers 2, 5, and 7) on this list are currently playing for the 2012 Twins? That completes a look at the position players with 100 or more at bats with zero home runs on their Twins resumes. The two Twins pitchers with the most at bats as Twins with zero home runs are Mudcat Grant who had 298 regular season at bats in a Twins uni with no homers. We all know about the Mudcat’s home run in-game 6 of the 1965 World Series against the Dodgers and Grant did hit 6 home runs in his 14 year big league career but he did not hit any for the Twins. The other pitcher is Bert Blyleven who had 451 career at bats with zero home runs and 235 of these at bats were as a Minnesota Twins pitcher.
UPDATE AS OF SEPTEMBER 4, 2012 - Jamey Carroll homered against the Chicago White Sox pitcher Hector Santiago at US Cellular Field in the fifth inning of yesterdays game to end his Twins streak of 412 consecutive at bats without a home run. This streak of 412 homer less games moves him up to number 3 on the Twins list behind Al Newman and Ben Revere.
CORRECTION as of September 5, 2012 - It was brought to my attention that I missed outfielder Jason Tyner who had 442 Twins at bats before hitting a home run off Jake Westbrooke at Jacobs Field on July 28, 2007. Todate Jason Tyner career home run count stands at 1. This would put Tyner number 3 on the Twins list.
However; the original intent of my story was to list the Twins with the most at bats that had zero home runs on their entire Twins resume and not really to list the most consective Twins at bats without a homer, thus Jamey Carroll and Jason Tyner really would not belong on this list.