Danny Valencia hits them far and often

Danny Valencia had a pretty good night on Friday. On Sunday, he went one better.

The history

Valencia’s first career three-homer game gave him five home runs in the three-game series and helped offset another rough performance from Sonny Gray. He’s the second player with a three-homer game for the Oakland Athletics in the past 12 seasons, joining Josh Reddick, who had one against the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013.

Valencia is the fourth player to have a three-homer game this season, joining Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Hill and Lorenzo Cain. Valencia and Hill both hit three in a game including a game-winning homer in the ninth inning or later.

He’s the sixth player to hit three home runs in a game at Tropicana Field, but only the second Tampa Bay Rays opponent, joining Carlos Delgado, who hit three for the Blue Jays in 2001.

Valencia came within one of the AL record for most home runs in a three-game span. Five American Leaguers have had six home runs in three games, most recently Jeff DaVanon for the Angels in 2003. The major league record is seven, set by Shawn Green with the 2002 Dodgers (which included a four-homer game).

Valencia now has two multi-homer games in his past three games. He had two multi-homer games in his first 543 career games, before Friday.

Valencia hit no home runs in his first 17 games (61 at-bats) this season, but now has five home runs in his past 12 at-bats.

How he did it

Valencia has 60 home runs in his career, half of which have come on pitches on the inner half of the plate, half of which came on outer-half pitches. On Sunday, he hit his first on a high, hanging, outer-half changeup. The other two came on inside fastballs.

All three of Valencia’s home runs were no doubters. His first was calculated at 425 feet, his second 429 feet, and his third 434 feet. He’s the first player to hit three 425-foot home runs in a game since 2009, when ESPN Stats & Information first started tracking home run distances.

Worth of at-bats?

Should Valencia play regularly? His bat makes a good case for it. His .881 OPS since the start of last season ranked 18th among those with at least 400 at-bats. However his glove is an issue. He has -11 Defensive Runs Saved in that span.

Quirky stat of the day

Valencia is the first Athletics third baseman to hit three home runs in a game since 1935, when Pinky Higgins hit three against the Boston Red Sox.