Most TB in a Team Loss

Baseball is a team sport. And that means that great individual performances sometimes get unceremoniously tossed aside solely because the team didn’t win. This is especially true on the offensive side of the ball, where a batter is surrounded by 8 other guys in the lineup to help mitigate his production.

Since so many things go into a team’s win or loss, there must be some pretty impressive batting days by guys on the wrong side of the scoreboard, right? Using total bases as the sorting criteria, here are the three best games by a hitter on a losing team:

  • Les Bell (1928 Braves): On this day, Les Bell went 4-for-5 with 3 home runs, a triple, and 6 RBIs. That’s 15 total bases from the 5th spot in the order, when the 4th spot was almost-as-well-manned: “The Rajah” Rogers Hornsby went 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, and 4 RBIs. That’s quite a tandem, but the 12 runs the Braves put up today were not enough to match as 6 of their pitchers combined to give up 20 runs to the Reds.
  • Ellis Burks (2001 Indians): Tied for Les Bell with 15 total bases, Ellis went 5-for-7 in this 12-inning affair with Minnesota Twins. He singled, doubled, and blasted 3 homers… 3 solo homers. His 15 total bases amounted to just 3 RBIs and 3 runs, all stemming from his own home runs. Bob

    An incredibly underrated masher, Ellis Burks.

    Wickman blew the lead in the 9th, allowing Burks to add 6 more bases in extra-innings.

  • Bob Horner (1986 Braves): The all-time leader in this category is also a Brave. Horner amassed 16 total bases against the Montreal Expos by going 4-for-6 with 4 round-trippers and 6 RBIs. He hit homers in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 9th innings, but the Braves only managed 8 runs. The Braves’ pitcher, Zane Smith, gave up 8 runs in just 4 innings of work, and the Expos topped them 11 to 8.
Horner, owner of a very impressive career 127 OPS+, was the first overall selection in the 1978 draft and went straight to the majors without a single minor league game. He averaged 35 home runs per 162 games in his 9-season career, which sadly ended at age 28. He battled various injuries and was the victim of owners’ collusion in 1987. He went to the Japanese league and continued hammering the ball until attempting an unsuccessful comeback a few years later for the Cardinals.
Les Bell, Ellis Burks, and Bob Horner did almost everything they could do to help their team win, but it just wasn’t enough. There are days when a player feels “right” and the pitch seems slower, the bat seems lighter, and the fences seem closer. These three men can attest to the fact to this, though: that’s why we play the game. No one batter can single-handedly win a game for his team. Next up on SittingCurveball: showing that not even a pitcher can bring home a victory completely on his own.

Bob Horner, a promising slugger whose career was cut short by injury.

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