Toast Of The Town

April 4, 2018

The incomparable Babe Ruth hit a home run every 11.76 times at-bat during his legendary career, the Bambino swatting a total of 714 home runs in all.

Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva hardly belongs in any such power-hitting discussion just yet, but the 19,000-plus on hand at Petco Park Tuesday night saw something Ruthian, nonetheless.

Pounding three home runs which soared a total of 1,189 feet against the Colorado Rockies, Villanueva helped the Padres bash their way to their first victory of the season, 8-4.

The rookie now has hit seven career homers in 39 at-bats, for a rate of one blast every 5.57 trips to the plate. It’s a small sample size, of course, but the Padres needed something electric to get this season jump-started after four straight losses – and Villanueva provided the charge.

Here’s a couple of other things he did:

Villanueva became just the seventh Padre to hit three home runs in a game (Steve Finley did it twice). He became just the second Padre rookie to hit three home runs in a game, joining Hunter Renfroe, who did it last September. He also became just the third player in baseball history to have a three-home run game in the first 15 games of his career.

The smile on his face was from ear-to-ear when he said, “It’s a great feeling. And especially it’s great because it helped us win a ballgame.”

With all the talk about the Padres’ youth this spring, and the potential greatness of this organization’s future, Villanueva largely has been overlooked. That’s because, even though he’s a rookie, Villanueva is already 26 years of age.

But if he keeps swinging anywhere close to the way he did Tuesday night, it’s pretty easy to envision an infield combination of Hosmer-Urias, Tatis, Jr.-Villanueva in the years to come.

The first homer he hit against Colorado took your breath away. A high, majestic blow down the left-field line, it landed 400-feet away on the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building. It was the kind of shot current Padres Coach Mark McGwire used to hit when he was pounding his way to an all-time record of one homer every 10.61 at-bats in his career.

The active Major League leader in that category is Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees, who’s fourth all-time with an HR every 13.37 at-bats. Though Villanueva is not in that kind of category yet, his fast start has to have opened some eyes. Wide.

Kind of the way everybody looked when watching the young slugger connect Tuesday night.