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Royce Lewis Is The Grand Slam Man

Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis (23) hits a grand slam during the second inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians on September 4, 2023, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH.
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Twins rookie third baseman Royce Lewis only has 207 big-league at-bats to his name, but he's already figured out the secret to becoming a modern MLB star. No, simply playing great and racking up a lot of impressive stats is not enough. In this era, where everything happens in the shadow of world-historic freak Shohei Ohtani, you have to go O'Doyle Mode if you really want to stand out. You have to do something so crazy and unprecedented that it surfaces both Rudy York and Lou Gehrig as points of comparison. That's what Lewis did on Monday night when he socked a second-inning grand slam off Lucas Giolito:

That was Lewis's third grand slam of the season, which is an impressive tally for any player to achieve in a full season's worth of at-bats, but the difference here is that Lewis has hit all three of those grand slams in the last eight games. He hit his first on Aug. 28 against the Guardians, and his second on Sunday against the Rangers. He also managed to cram two additional homers into this stretch, making him the first player since Gehrig in 1931 to hit five homers and three grand slams in an eight-game stretch. Lewis only needed 56 career games to hit three grand slams, which makes him the fastest player to reach that mark in MLB history. York did it in 132 games in 1938.

Lewis now has a .908 OPS and 11 homers in 179 plate appearances this year, and his emergence is cool for reasons beyond an unexpected spate of grand slams. Lewis was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, but his rise to the majors was delayed when he tore the same ACL in consecutive years. He finally got his permanent spot on the big-league roster at the beginning of this season, before once again being sidelined by an oblique strain in July. He returned to the lineup in on Aug. 15, and has hit eight home runs since then.

No sport is better than baseball at pulling arbitrarily defined records and achievements out of the ether whenever a player has a wild burst of production. It's easy to roll your eyes at this stuff, but there is value in allowing yourself to stop and briefly contextualize what someone like Royce Lewis is doing when he goes on a run like this. The value is in knowing that only a handful of people— those who were around to watch Lou Gehrig get hot over an eight-game stretch in 1931—have seen a player do exactly what Lewis is doing now.

Lewis may go on to become a Hall of Famer, or a journeyman, or a flameout, and in any of those timelines these last eight games will get shuffled in with the longer story of his career and largely forgotten. But the Twins fans who are seeing him right now, the ones who are glued to their TV every night watching their team try to hold off the Guardians in the race for the AL Central, will always remember Lewis's three grand slams. They'll remember how he tortured Cleveland's pitching, and the 20-6 win, and what it felt like to see a prospect finally come good. They are lucky to have seen the Grand Slam Man in action, and maybe in 90 years when someone else hits three grand slams and six homers in seven games, another set of fans will understand exactly what that kind of luck feels like.

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