Time for a quick poll. Ryan Braun went 4-for-5 with three home runs, a triple and six RBIs (the first player with three homers and triple since Fred Lynn in 1975) on Monday night, giving him 15 total bases. Certainly a great day, one of the best in major league history, especially if you factor in that it came at spacious Petco Park. But according to Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, since 1918 17 players have had at least 16 total bases.
So today's question: Which hitter had the greatest day in major league history? We can only list five in the poll, so I've narrowed the field down to five finalists. (Note: Postseason performances not included since they're a different beast.)
1. Carlos Delgado, 2003 Blue Jays: 4-for-4, 4 HR, 4 R, 6 RBIs (box score)
Several players have hit four home runs in a game, but Delgado is the only one to do it in four plate appearances. Isn't that perfection? He hit a three-run homer in the first and three solo shots, all leading off an inning.
2. Shawn Green, 2002 Dodgers: 6-for-6, 4 HR, 2B, 6 R, 7 RBIs (box score)
Green set the major league record with 19 total bases in a game the Dodgers hit eight home runs. He's also just one of eight players since 1918 to score six runs in a game. Green's homers came off Brian Mallette (two), Glendon Rusch and Jose Cabrera. I had to look up Mallette. He pitched in five games in his career and this ended up being his final major league appearance.
3. Mark Whiten, 1993 Cardinals: 4-for-5, 4 HR, 4 R, 12 RBIs (box score)
In the second game of a doubleheader, Hard-Hittin' Whiten tied major league records with his four homers and 12 RBIs. He hit a grand slam, two three-run homers and a two-run shot, fouling out with the bases empty in the fourth.
4. Fred Lynn, 1975 Red Sox: 5-for-6, 3 HR, 3B, 4 R, 10 RBIs (box score)
Lynn hit a two-run homer and three-run homer in the first two innings off Joe Coleman, a two-run triple in the third and a three-run homer in the ninth. In between, he lined out and singled.
5. Jim Bottomley, 1924 Cardinals: 6-for-6, 2 HR, 2B, 3 R, 12 RBIs (box score)
Batting cleanup for the Cardinals against the Brooklyn Robins, Bottomley hit a two-run single, an RBI double, a grand slam, a two-run homer, a two-run single and an RBI single. Not a bad day's work.
My vote goes to Green: The total bases record and six runs scored. Jose Reyes scored six all month for the Marlins.