By Aliet Arzola Lima
However, the most mediatic of the Gurriel brothers has been consistent in his production of doubles (25), to the point of leading the entire Cuban armada in this department, ahead of José Abreu (24), and ranking third in the American League, only surpassed by J.D. Martinez (30), José Ramírez (30) and Rafael Devers (28). As if that were not enough, Yulieski is the fifth player from the Island with the most extra-base hits (XBH) in the competition (32), a list headed by Yordan Álvarez (39).
And it is precisely about this last section that we are going to talk, because Yulieski became the first National Series player to reach the dazzling mark of 1000 XBH in his lifetime, adding his work at different levels in Cuba, Japan and the United States. The Sancti Spíritus native began the year with 992 extra-base hits, divided as follows:
National Series: 602 (292 doubles – 53 triples – 257 home runs).
Super League: 32 (15-4-13)
Postseasons: 38 (20-6-12)
NPB: 33 (22-0-11)
United States (287)
MLB: 257 (166-5-86)
Minor League: 10 (8-0-2)
Postseason: 20 (13-1-6)
Those 992 XBH placed Yulieski above great legends such as Orestes Kindelán, Frederich Cepeda, José Abreu, Alfredo Despaigne, Omar Linares, Antonio Muñoz, Antonio Pacheco, Lázaro Junco or Yoenis Céspedes, the top extra-base hitters who have played in the National Series. As a curious detail, of all of them, only the first four have surpassed the figure of 800 XBH.
As we had already mentioned, Yulieski has had a prolific production of doubles in 2022 (he is on pace to set a personal record), which has allowed him to go over 1,000 extra-base hits without any problem. If he started the season with 992 XBH, then it has not been very complicated to discover what exactly was the connection that marked the milestone.
The hit in question is his eighth extra-base hit of the season, the first of two doubles he delivered on April 29 in the Houston Astros’ visit to Toronto. Yulieski started that game with 999 XBH (he had seven RBIs) and as early as the second inning of the game he snagged a slider (89 mph) from Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi and hit a double to left.
The ball shot out very close to the third-base foul line and snuck like lightning into the depths of the left field, where his brother Lourdes Jr. collected and returned to the infield, with no options to avoid the Houston starter’s double. In that same game, in the third frame, Yuli repeated the damage and got another double against Kikuchi that drive in a run, his team’s lead.
Gurriel finished that game with 1,001 XBH and then he has connected another 23 extra-base hits (16 doubles and seven homers) for a total count of 1,024 XBH. This figure allows the Cuban to look in the rear-view mirror at two great Cuban hitters like Orestes Miñoso (1,013) and José Canseco (1,019), who ranked third and fourth among the Island’s players with the most extra-base hits in history.
The list is headed by Rafael Palmeiro (1,302), who divided his production into 1,192 XBH in the Majors and another 110 others between the Minors and independent competitions. Second in the the list is Tany Pérez (1,206), who hit 963 XBH in MLB and 243 in the Minors.
Palmeiro, Tany, Yulieski, Canseco and Miñoso are the only Cubans with more than a thousand extra-base hits, adding their experiences in different professional circuits. The next one who can reach that mythical figure is the stellar José Abreu, who right now sits at 911 XBH between National Series (367) and MLB (544). Will “Pito” be able to reach the thousand? I would bet on him.