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What is a Grand Slam in Baseball? (Bases Loaded)

arod grand slam

When it comes to baseball, there are certain exploits that a rarity in a game.

If you happen to witness any of them first-hand, you’d be wondering how often they happen.

I’m talking about accomplishments such as no-hitters, immaculate innings, triple plays, and grand slams.

If you don’t know, a no-hitter is when a pitcher keeps the opposing team hitless for the entire game.

An immaculate inning is when the pitcher throws nine strikes and retires all three batters to end the inning. In other words, a flawless inning. 

Triple plays involve several players, typically in the in-field. It is the act of making three outs in a single play.

The most impressive triple plays are those where each base is tagged for the out – from third, to second, to first.

For the triple play to be carried out successfully, the fielding players must act extremely quick and with pinpoint accuracy.

But there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing a grand slam. The best thing is, it’s one of those plays that you can anticipate ahead of time.

Before I build it up any further, let me define the term for you.

What is a Grand Slam in Baseball?

A grand slam is a home run hit when the bases are loaded. As a result, the player at-bat earns his team four runs in a single play. Alex Rodriguez is the Major League Baseball all-time leader in grand slams with 25. 

Furthermore, the batter himself is credited with four RBIs for the effort.

As a pitcher, the last player you want to see stepping to the plate is the cleanup hitter.

The cleanup hitter is the most powerful batter on the team. His role is to clear out the bases by driving all the baserunners across home plate.

What an opportune time when the bases are loaded.

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The Threat of a Grand Slam

In fact, don’t think that the coaching staff is not aware of a grand slam threat.

Despite the average hitting percentage being around 0.250 AVG, you cannot ignore the pressure already placed on the pitcher.

To clarify, the average batter hits 2.5 out of every 10 at-bats successfully. And the percentage of those hits resulting in home runs is far less.

I recall a scenario in which the pitcher intentionally walked the batter rather than potentially give up a grand slam. 

The pitcher was Gregg Olson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who was instructed to do so by his manager, Buck Showalter. 

The batter he faced was none other than Barry Bonds.

What made it even more peculiar is that the Diamondbacks were only up by two runs, and they willingly gave up one. 

The only upside was that there were two outs in the inning. 

In the end, the very next batter lined out to end the game. The Diamondbacks emerged victorious – but that remains one of the gutsiest calls in MLB history.

How many points is a Grand Slam in Baseball?

To reiterate, a grand slam will earn your team 4 points (or runs) on the scoreboard.

There is no other way to accumulate as many points in one play without errors on the play. 

That is, you can always hit a triple and the fielding team throws an errant ball, allowing you to proceed home.

Even more unlikely, the batter hits a base clearing double and forces the fielding team to cause an error. As a result, the batter (now baserunner) can reach home safely. 

What is a Walk Off Grand Slam in Baseball?

It is a bases-loaded home run that ends of the game. The walk off grand slam can only occur at the bottom of the ninth or extra innings.

To be clear, the batting team must earn enough runs to overtake the lead on the scoreboard. 

The term “walk off” implies that once the baserunning for the home run is completed, players can walk off the field.

Even though the grand slam earns the batting team four runs, they did not necessarily have to trail their opponents by three for it to be considered a walk off.

At worst, the opposing team would have a three-run lead. However, it would also be referred to as a walk off grand slam had the score been tied.

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All-Time Leader in Grand Slams 

For the longest time the lead for career grand slams was held by Lou Gherig with 23 (source). 

The record was finally broken by Alex Rodriguez in 2013. A-Rod would end his career with 25 total grand slams.  

Grand Slam Top 10 Leaderboard

Player NameGrand Slams
1Alex Rodriguez25
2Lou Gehrig23
3Manny Ramirez21
4Eddie Murray19
5Willi McCovey18
6Robin Ventura18
7Jimmie Foxx17
8Carlos Lee17
9Ted Williams17
10Hank Aaron16
TiedDavid Kingman
Babe Ruth
Albert Pujols
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Final Thoughts

To me, the best part of the grand slam home run is the lead up. 

Once you see those bases fully loaded, you can’t help but think what could happen next.

The first thing that comes to mind is which player is next to hit. 

Ideally, it’s your cleanup, designated hitter (American League) or any batter who can muster 20 homers in a season

But even if it’s the pitcher (National League), you’re rooting for him. 

Sometimes the pitcher will be pulled from the game just to bring a pinch hitter, in this scenario.

As a manager, you must do your best to capitalize in such a situation.

The bases don’t get loaded very often in a game.

Even if the offensive team can squeeze out just one run in this situation, you’d deem the inning successful.

But make no mistake - there is nothing more satisfying than a grand slam home run.