All of Anthony Rendon’s previous 3,406 plate appearances since reaching the MLB level have come as a right-handed hitter.
That was, until Tuesday. In a blowout, eventual no-hit victory against the Rays, Rendon stepped up to the plate to bat left-handed in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ordinarily, this would be a certain automatic out, but the pitcher he was facing was no pitcher at all. Rather, it was Tampa Bay outfielder Brett Phillips. Phillips was making his second pitching appearance of the season, and threw only sliders that averaged 53.2 miles per hour, according to Baseball Savant.
One 54.2 mph pitch dipped just below the zone, but right into the left-handed bat of Rendon, who launched the ball 101 mph and 411 feet to right field for a home run.
While that home run proved that the Angels’ third baseman is no slouch from the left-handed batter’s box, don’t expect to see the 31-year-old take up switch-hitting any time soon.
But that home run did put Rendon in exclusive company among hitters that have launched a ball over the fence batting from the wrong side of the plate.
Opposite-handed home runs
Switch-hit home runs are not terribly uncommon. But Rendon’s homer was opposite-handed, not a switch-hit.
Prior to Rendon’s home run as a lefty, only two other non-switch-hitters had tallied a home run from the “wrong” side of the plate.
The first to do it, according to Stathead, was Hal Trosky. Baseball Reference lists Trosky as hitting a home run right-handed facing a left-handed pitcher in 1935. However, according to a report from The Gazette, Trosky hit right-handed with his hands crossed before becoming a left-handed hitter.
Trosky’s grandson, Mike Trosky, told The Gazette that during the 1933 season, Trosky flipped around to hit right-handed after seeing the Green Monster in left field.
“He hit a couple homers and a couple doubles that series,” Trosky told The Gazette. “But when they got on the train, the manager called grandpa over and said, ‘I’m paying you to hit left-handed and you’ll never hit right-handed again.'”
The next occasion would not happen until 2020, when Rays’ first baseman and designated hitter Ji-Man Choi batted from the right-handed batter’s box launched a solo home run off left-hander Anthony Kay on July 26, 2020.
Choi, who came to the majors as a left-handed hitter, took a few other swings as a switch-hitter in 2020, but gave it up during the season and went back to being strictly a left-handed batter.
Stathead listed both Tucker Barnhart and Cedric Mullins as other left-handed hitters to hit home runs right-handed, but that came when both were switch-hitters. They have both since given up switch-hitting and bat exclusively left-handed.
The same can be said of Shane Victorino, who was a switch-hitter before making the switch to batting exclusively right-handed in 2013. Stathead said he hit 49 home runs as a left-handed hitter from 2003 to 2012.