Sunday, May 25, 2014


The players who hit two triples in the same game remind us of just how marginalized an event the three-base-hit remains.

Twenty-year old Rangers rookie Rougned Odor (perhaps the Caribbean analogue to Drungo Hazewood?) slapped two triples in Texas' 12-2 pounding of the Tigers last night, making him the third player to do so in 2014. No one--and we mean no one--is going to know the names of the other two who've done it this season (without resorting to the Play Index at Forman et fils, that is).

Triples are so marginalized now that "great players" (as defined by the increasingly two-dimensional concepts that have taken hold over the past couple of decades) rarely hit them. And that means that "great players" almost never hit two triples in the same game; it's become a fluke event that arguably stems more from a defense being surprised by the ability of a lesser-light hitter to hit a baseball with something resembling gap power.

The last arguably "great hitter" to stroke two triples in the same game? The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez.

The last player to hit two triples in the same game three times in a season? Jose Reyes. Reyes' lifetime total of two-triple games is eight, which ties him with another active player (but, like Reyes, not arguably a "great hitter"): Carl Crawford.

The rest of the list of top two-or-more-triples in a game contains some past names that might stir the hearts of those who have a faint hope that all batting events in baseball have a fighting chance to be more than fluke occurrences.

Those names? Willie Mays (10 lifetime 2+-3B games). Arky Vaughan (10). Pie Traynor (9). Heinie Manush (8). Goose Goslin (8). Ty Cobb (8). Paul Waner (7). Rogers Hornsby (7). George Brett (7). Earl Averill (7).

We've left out Bobby Veach, who's the all-time leader with 12, because many of you might not know him or consider him a "great hitter." We've linked to Bobby's page at Forman et fils so you can reacquaint yourselves with him; his late-blooming career means that he's not quite a Hall of Famer, but he's probably a good match for Carlos Gonzalez. 

Now it's true that several of these hitters had the benefit of parks that favored triples (Vaughn, Traynor, Waner, and to a lesser extent Manush and Goslin). But what's wrong with a park that favors triples? Why do we have no parks that do that anymore? 

You probably know the answer to that one, so we won't get too strident here.

The chart shows us that two-triple games have been extremely rare since the 30s, which means that this unique exciting offensive event has long been an afterthought in the game of baseball. 

Which is a needless shame. That needs to be corrected. As we've told you. 

Five times as many triples a year is a consummation devoutly to be wished. A game in which Harry Heilmann--not nicknamed "Twinkletoes"--could hit 151 lifetime triples--is one that needs to return to the face of the National Pastime, too long preoccupied by gorging on the long ball.

We need that gol-darned "190-foot rule" (which, as you'll see, is slightly marked down from its earlier incarnation, but the principle is still the same....) and the frenzied half-inning of "constrained defensive alignment" to take us in a bold new direction.