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54 Things That Never Happened in Baseball Until 2021

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

At both the plate and on the mound, Shohei Ohtani was responsible for a lot of the "firsts" from the 2021 MLB season

Few sports love to keep track of history and statistics as much as baseball. With that in mind, it's easy to keep track of record-breaking and trendsetting moments throughout the years. In a feature from the Athlon Sports 2022 Baseball Annual, Sarah Langs breaks down all the firsts and records from the historic 2021 MLB season, one of which was highlighted by the exploits of a two-way player, a group of young sluggers, and a bevy of no-hitters.

2021 was the first time that...

A batter...

  • In the modern era began a season with eight consecutive hits (Yermín Mercedes).
  • Hit multiple home runs, including a grand slam, and also recorded a walk-off hit within his first three career games in the modern era (Akil Baddoo).
  • Recorded a multi-homer game at the same venue on the same calendar date as his father did (Fernando Tatís Jr., April 23 at Dodger Stadium; Sr. hit two grand slams in an inning there on April 23, 1999).
  • Recorded multiple walk-off RBIs within his first four career games, since RBIs became an official stat in 1920 (Patrick Mazeika, May 7 and 9).
  • Pitched in a game in which he recorded his first career hit, among position players in the expansion era (Andy Burns, June 12).
  • Hit a home run for each of his first five career hits in the modern era (Rodolfo Castro, July 9-28).
  • Hit multiple home runs in his first game after the All-Star break after winning that year’s All-Star Game MVP (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., July 16).
  • Hit his first three career home runs in the same game (Seby Zavala, July 31).
  • Hit multiple home runs and racked up at least five RBIs in his first career MLB start, since RBIs became official in 1920 (José Siri, Sept. 13).
  • Under the age of 23 led (or tied for the lead in) both leagues in home runs in a single season (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. AL, Fernando Tatís Jr. NL).
  • Who hit leadoff for their respective teams in a postseason game were teammates in the previous season on another team (the Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo and Boston’s Kyle Schwarber, 2015-20 teammates on CHC).
  • Hit multiple pinch-hit home runs off the same pitcher in a postseason career, let alone one series (Joc Pederson off Adrian Houser, NLDS).
  • Totaled 13 hits in his first five career postseason games (Tim Anderson, 2020-21).
  • Hit multiple homers, at least one triple and at least one single in a postseason game (Eddie Rosario, NLCS Game 4).
  • Hit three home runs in a game when facing postseason elimination (Chris Taylor, NLCS Game 5).
  • Hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning in Game 1 of the World Series (Jorge Soler, World Series Game 1).
  • Hit both a pinch-hit home run and a leadoff home run in a World Series career, let alone within a single series (Soler, World Series Games 4 and 1).
2022 Athlon Sports Baseball Annual/MLB Preview Magazine

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A pitcher...

  • Threw a no-hitter in a Padres uniform (Joe Musgrove, April 9 at Texas).
  • Struck out at least 10 batters in each of his first four starts of a season since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 (Shane Bieber, April 18).
  • Struck out as many as 61 batters between walks issued in a single season since 1893 (Gerrit Cole).
  • Faced different pitchers, both with the same last name as him, in back-to-back starts in the modern era (Ian Anderson: Brett Anderson May 15, Tyler Anderson May 21).
  • And his opposing starter each had 10 or more strikeouts, no walks and did not allow a run, since at least 1901 (Carlos Rodón vs Jordan Montgomery, May 21).
  • Had more RBIs than earned runs allowed in his first 10 pitching starts of a season, since RBIs became official in 1920 (Jacob deGrom: 5 RBIs, 4 ER).
  • Reached 1,500 career strikeouts in fewer than 200 games (Yu Darvish, 197 games, June 21).
  • Finished an outing with at least five perfect innings in his MLB debut as a starter since 1893 (Max Kranick, June 27).
  • Pitched in three different no-hitters within a single season, including starters and relievers and considering both the team pitching the no-hitter and the opponent (Zach Plesac, Sept. 11).
  • Made his first career MLB start in the World Series (Dylan Lee, World Series Game 4).

A player...

  • Hit a 110-plus mph batted ball and threw a 100-plus mph pitch in the same game tracked by Statcast, since 2015 (Shohei Ohtani, April 4).
  • Caught consecutive no-hitters for different teams (Victor Caratini: April 9, Joe Musgrove SD; Sept. 13, 2020, Alec Mills CHC).
  • In the modern era caught five straight shutouts in his starts, from five different starting pitchers (Curt Casali, April 22).
  • And his father both stole a base off Yadier Molina in their careers (Daz Cameron, joining father Mike, June 23).
  • Finished top 10 in both the AL and NL in stolen bases, or any counting stat other than complete games, in a single season (Starling Marte: 5th in NL, T-6th in AL).
  • Had at least 20 homers, steals and pitching appearances in a season (Shohei Ohtani).
  • Had at least 30 homers and 30 strikeouts on the mound in a season (Ohtani).
  • Won MVP unanimously playing on a team that had a losing record (Ohtani).
  • Joined his father as a father/son duo to both finish top 2 in their careers for any BBWAA player award (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. & Sr.).
  • Drafted in the top 2 faced the other player drafted in the top 2 in the same draft year, in a World Series (Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman, 2015 Draft).

A team...

  • In the modern era had at least a share of the best record in MLB while having a negative run differential, at least 25 games into their season (Royals, thru May 2).
  • Was no-hit three times in a season (Cleveland).
  • Scored 27 runs in a four-inning span (Blue Jays, Sept. 11-12).
  • With at least 105 regular-season wins was in a division with another team with at least 105 regular-season wins (NL West: Giants and Dodgers).
  • With at least 105 wins faced another team with at least 105 wins, in any game (Giants/Dodgers NLDS).
  • And its postseason series opponent had as many as 213 combined regular-season wins (Giants/Dodgers NLDS).
  • Hit a first-inning grand slam in a postseason game and lost (Rays’ Jordan Luplow, ALDS Game 2). Happened for the second time when the Braves did it in World Series Game 5.
  • Had its leadoff batter in the inning get a hit in each of the first six innings of a game (Red Sox, ALDS Game 3).
  • Got as many as 20 straight non-extra-base hits to start either a single series or a postseason run (White Sox, ALDS).
  • Hit multiple grand slams in a postseason game (Red Sox, ALCS Game 2).
  • Used three different rookie starting pitchers at any point in a World Series, let alone consecutively (Braves, World Series Games 3-5).
  • Came back from multiple deficits to win a World Series game when facing elimination on the road (Astros, World Series Game 5).
  • Had an LCS and World Series MVP in the same year who were both acquired midseason (Braves: Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler).

A season...

  • Featured nine no-hitters, breaking the previous mark of eight, which had been set in 1884, before the mound was moved to its current distance.
  • Featured multiple players age 22 or younger both with at least 40 home runs (Fernando Tatís Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.).
  • Had three players, all under the age of 23 at the end of the regular season, finish top 3 in MVP voting in the same year across leagues (Juan Soto, Fernando Tatís Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr.).
  • Had each of the top three players in MVP voting in both leagues on non-playoff teams (Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Fernando Tatís Jr.).

(Source for some of this material: Elias Sports Bureau;
pending the inclusion of Negro Leagues stats)

— Compiled by Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) for the Athlon Sports 2022 MLB Annual. At 224 pages, it's the largest on the newsstand and the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.