Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec’s game-winning home run put him in rare company
Bobby Dalbec hit a significant home run for the Red Sox
Bobby Dalbec powered the Boston Red Sox to their first win of the 2022 season with a home run that moved him into exclusive company in franchise history.
Dalbec led off the sixth inning of Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees with the score knotted at three. Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt left a 93 mph sinking fastball up too high in the zone and Dalbec hammered it 391 feet to right field for a solo homer, which proved to be the game-winner when Boston’s bullpen managed to lock down the final few frames.
His first home run of the season was the 34th of Dalbec’s career, a total he reached in his 159th career game. Only two hitters in franchise history have blasted more home runs through the first 162 games of their career – Tony Conigliaro (36) and Walt Dropo (35). Dalbec’s latest home run gives him one more than the legendary Ted Williams collected by his 162nd career game.
Dalbec made his major league debut about halfway through the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He took the league by storm, smashing eight home runs in only 23 games to begin his career.
He sputtered out of the gate last season as pitchers caught on to his free-swinging tendencies but Dalbec recovered to produce a strong second half and finished with 25 homers. He went without a home run in his first 58 at-bats to begin last season. It took him only 10 at-bats to collect his first homer this year.
His career has spread across three different seasons and Dalbec still hasn’t appeared in a full 162 games yet, but it’s not unusual for players to take multiple seasons to reach that many games since rookies rarely appear in every game. Some notable names on the aforementioned list also played in an era when MLB had a shorter schedule.
Conigliaro made his Red Sox debut at the age of 19 and hit 24 home runs in 111 games. He would collect his 36th career homer before reaching his 162nd game, during a 1965 campaign that saw him lead the league with 32 home runs.
Dropo went without a home run during a brief 11-game stint in 1949 to open his career. He mashed 34 homers on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award the following season. Dropo’s 35th homer came in his eighth game of the 1951 season.
Williams hit 31 home runs during his rookie season in 1949. He also led the league with 145 RBI and finished fourth on the MVP ballot. Teddy Ballgame tallied two more homers by his 13th game of the following season, which was the 162nd of his career.
Dalbec still has three more games before he reaches his 162nd career game. A big series in Detroit could lead to him challenging Tony C for the top spot on this list.
His clutch home run against the Yankees was only Dalbec’s second hit of the season and he’s struck out in five of his 10 at-bats. It remains to be seen if Dalbec can make enough consistent contact to remain a long-term fixture in the lineup but his impressive power is legitimate. If he manages to hang on to his role as the primary first baseman, Dalbec is going to produce massive home run totals.