You know how we like to fixate on the triple...that's never going to stop. We're not quite ready to repurpose Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now," but we're thinking about it.
There's a good chance that we'll wind up with less than 800 triples across MLB when the 2013 season comes to a close.
With the three-bagger now something that happens less than once in every six games, we are more than ever in need of our "190-foot line" defensive alignment.
We mentioned 1980 above. Why? Because that was the last year in a five-year upswing for 3Bs that's never even come close to being repeated.
And one of the reasons for that increase was the presence of triples-friendly ballparks. There were five parks that were seriously helpful in terms of producing extra triples in the mid-70s/early 80s:
• Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia), introduced in 1971;
• Busch Stadium (St. Louis), opened in 1966;
• Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City), opened in 1973;
• Exhibition Stadium (Toronto), the Blue Jays' first home, opened in 1977;
• And, last but not least, the Metrodome (Minnesota), opened in 1982.
Four of these five stadiums are no longer serving the major league teams they once represented.
And these stadia once supported a more prolific hope for extra triples, but each fell by the wayside as three-baggers begin their march to the sea.
A sixth ballpark, Yankee Stadium, had long been a triples haven. It remained so until 1976, when the park reopened with smaller distances and cozier power alleys. It took a few years for that to kick in, but when it did, it did so with a vengeance.
(It turns out that the New Yankee Stadium is every stingier when it comes to three-base hits.)
You can see the ongoing issue in the home/road comparisons of triples by team for these six parks.
Those green lines tell us everything we need to know about the pervasive, persistent and pernicious decline in triples that came about in 1981.
All of these teams saw a significant downturn in triples, and (with the exception of Kauffman Stadium in KC) all of these parks were replaced by parks that continued the downward trend of triples hitting in these parks. (Kaufmann, once a proflic source of triples in the 1976-80 timeframe, has seen its gross triples totals at home fall by 37%.)
When all of your triples parks dry up and blow away--or is that blow up and dry away...whatever it is, it (mercifully) ain't a line from "Rust Never Sleeps"--it's no wonder we need the 190-foot line.
Implement it, and without making any changes to existing parks, you will be able at least double the number of triples per game.
This will be an across-the-board increase that will happen at every single major league ballpark, regardless of size, shape or dimension. (And it might make the right hitter, playing in Coors Field, into the next Owen "Chief" Wilson.)