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Carlos Beltran hit 3 home runs last night, which is a rare feat. What is much rarer, however, is to do so without actually helping your team. Beltran (and most other 3-HR hitters) had a high WPA, but 3 players have  hit 3 HRs with a negative WPA.

Let’s delve a bit more into these three games. Here’s the (very short) list of 3-homer games with negative WPAs:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI BB WPA
Jeff Bagwell
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1999-06-09
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HOU
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CHW
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W 13-4 6 6 3 3 3 6 0 -0.020
Dave Kingman
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1979-05-17
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CHC
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PHI
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L 22-23 7 6 4 3 3 6 1 -0.123
Johnny Callison
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1964-09-27
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PHI
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MLN
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L 8-14 5 5 3 3 3 4 0 -0.061
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/13/2011.

Click the dates of each game to learn more about them. How did these 3 players manage to hit 3 homers with a negative WPA? Well, you can see that none of them had any non-homer hits, and only Kingman drew a walk. Of course, Kingman was the only one to hit into a double play, too. Here’s some more detail on each game.

Jeff Bagwell on June 9, 1999

Results by Plate Appearance:

  1. 1st inning, 0 outs, no score. Flyout with runners on 1st and 2nd, -5% WPA
  2. 2nd inning, 2 outs, Astros up 2-0. Strikeout with a runner on 1st, -2% WPA (-7% total)
  3. 4th inning, 2 outs, Astros up 4-0. Foulout, -1% WPA (-8% total)
  4. 6th inning, 1 out, Astros up 5-1. Home run with runners on 1st and 3rd, +5% WPA (-3% total)
  5. 8th inning, 0 outs, Astros up 9-2. Solo home run, +0% WPA (-3% total)
  6. 9th inning, 1 out, Astros up 11-4. Home run with a runner on 2nd, +0% WPA (-2% total)

Bagwell didn’t really have any WPA-crushing at-bats, but his home runs came after the Astros already had a large lead, so they did not improve his WPA much. In fact, the second two homers barely nudged his WPA at all.

Dave Kingman on May 17, 1979

Results by Plate Appearance:

  1. 1st inning, Cubs down 7-1, no outs. Home run with runners on 1st and 2nd, +12% WPA
  2. 2nd inning, Cubs down 7-6, no outs. Ground into double play with runners on 1st and 3rd (no advance), -15% WPA (-3% total)
  3. 4th inning, Cubs down 17-6, 2 outs. Home run with runner on 1st, +0% WPA (-3% total)
  4. 5th inning, Cubs down 21-14, 1 out. Walk with bases empty, +1% WPA (-2% total)
  5. 6th inning, Cubs down 21-18, 2 outs. Home run with bases empty, +8% WPA (+6% total)
  6. 8th inning, Cubs down 22-20, 0 outs. Fly out with runners on 1st and 2nd (no advance), -11% WPA (-5% total)
  7. 10th inning, Cubs down 23-22, 1 out. Strikeout with bases empty, -7% WPA (-12% total)

First off: what a crazy game! The Cubs trailed 7-0 after the first, came back to 7-6, then went down 17-6 and 21-9, then came back to 21-19 and eventually tied it at 22 before losing in extra innings. Kingman was a big part of the craziness. He had 3 plays with a WPA change of at least 10%, and 5 with a WPA change greater than anything in Bagwell’s 3-homer game.

Two of Kingman’s 3 homers were very important to his team, adding 20% to their Win Probability. However, he also had several bad outs, most notably the double play in the second inning in a situation where a fly ball can tie the game. And of course he made the second-to-last out of the game, too.

Johnny Callison on September 27, 1964

Results by Plate Appearance:

  1. 1st inning, Phillies down 2-1, no outs. Strikeout with a runner on 1st, -4% WPA
  2. 3rd inning, Phillies down 3-2, no outs. Lineout with a runner on 1st, -3% WPA (-7% total)
  3. 6th inning, Phillies down 12-3, no outs. Home run with bases empty, +0% WPA (-7% total)
  4. 8th inning, Phillies down 14-4, no outs. Home run with bases empty, +0% WPA (-7% total)
  5. 9th inning, Phillies down 14-6, 2 outs. Home run with a runner on 2nd, +0% WPA (-6% total)

Callison followed a similar route to Bagwell, although his home runs were even less meaningful than Bagwell’s were. They combined to be worth less than 1% in WPA. Callison’s outs weren’t crippling, but when your homers all come with your team down by at least 8 runs, you’re not going to have a very good WPA.

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