There were two different, interesting tidbits about Kyle Higashioka’s career that would have seen him become semi-notorious if they kept going. However, he decided to just be a normal baseball player instead. For that, we’re all worse off.
Dating back to last season, Higashioka came into this year with zero career hits. He went 0-for-18 last year, and started 2018 0-for-4. At that point, he was one at-bat away from tying the position player record for most career at-bats without a hit. While that wouldn’t have been his ideal career, had he finished with zero major league hits, he probably would have had a more notable story than what he will end up with now.
Alas, that fun came to an end on July 1st, when he homered off David Price. However, that began a new, interesting streak. The next two hits he recorded were also home runs. He then became the first Yankee to record homers for their first three hits since Alfonso Soriano. The last person in baseball to do it was Trevor Story, whose first four hits were home runs. At that point, he became the living embodiment of a Matt Christopher novel.
That too ended when he singled on July 7th. This is why we can’t have nice things.
2018 Statistics: 29 games, 79 plate appearances, .167/.241/.319, 3 home runs, 6 RBI, 6 runs, 2 doubles, 0 triples, -0.2 WAR, 51 wRC+
2019 Contract Status: Under team control, arbitration eligible in 2021
Like last year, Higashioka’s stint in the majors this year came about because of injury. Gary Sanchez first went down with a groin injury on June 25th, allowing Higashioka to return to the majors.
After the initial 0-for-4, Higashioka went on that hot streak with the home runs and actually looked like a possible decent option while Sanchez was out. Through July 9th, he was OPSing .921. As that was happening, Austin Romine was going from “seemingly improved” back to “Austin Romine” at the plate. Some were intrigued, and wanted to see what Higashioka could do with more at-bats.
While he never really got anything close to a full-time starting gig, Higashioka did get an extended run, as Sanchez re-aggravated his injury shortly after coming back from the first injury. The little hot streak was not sustainable. From July 13th to the end of the season, he hit .146/.212/.167.
You can’t really expect much more from your third-string catcher, who had gone 0-for-18 last year, and hadn’t been great in Triple-A before getting recalled. He is what he is. Sadly, he is no longer a fun fact.