And here you probably thought that we were going to "go JoePo" and produce our own version of "tater alphabet soup," now, didn't you? We will do so....eventually.
Face it--we all need to get our minds off HRs. They have been toxic in nature for almost a quarter of a century now, thanks to the backlash against the McGwire-Sosa extravaganza of 1998-99. And yet they've become even more inescapable: talk about "American carnage."
As we quoted from Bill James' Twitter poll taken back in November 2020 (back when "fraud" was just a legal term and not the fever dream of fascist wannabes...), folks would rather see a triple in a ball game than a home run. (As a certain man possessed of surreal syntax once said: "You could look it up.") We need more than a few good men (and women, for that matter...) in this country; but we need even more triples.
So we're sticking with the three-bagger (which is not the new size of peanuts that might not be available at ballparks until the lockout turns into Rob Manfred's one-way ticket back to law practice). Whether hit by an eighteen year old Phil Cavarretta, or a forty-two year old Honus Wagner, the triple is the most exciting event involving a batted ball that can occur on a baseball diamond.
And so we're going to shift the focus from "alpha soup" to the tossed salad of age. Who hit the most triples at age 18? Well, we just told you. Age 42? Ditto. But there are twenty-three ages of man (or, rather, ballplayer) left to anatomize...and so we will. Here. Right now:
The rise and fall of the triples leader by age would have a shape roughly reminiscent of a bell curve--though its manifestation as the primary nineteenth-century instrument of power would produce a kind of sawtooth effect in the mid-to-late 30s.
We've shown the leader and those hitters who were next in line for each age-year in question. By combining the leader with "those next in line," we can then see who appears on the triples-by-age leader list the most often. And we don't think you'll be surprised to discover that all-time triples leader Sam Crawford appears on the list in either capacity seven times--which is not too far off from the total number of times that hitters from post-expansion times show up collectively (there are eleven such instances; only one of which--age-32 Lance Johnson in 1996--was actually the leader).
Of the 28 age-leaders (the number is higher than the actual 25-year age range due to a couple of ties, one of which is a three-way tie...), eleven are from the nineteenth century, and another eleven are from the Deadball era. There are two instances where the leader repeats as leader in the next age-year: Sam Thompson (the power-hitting triples masher) in 1894/1895 at ages 34-35; and Honus Wagner, in 1915/1916 at ages 41-42. Wagner and Jake Daubert have probably the most impressive feats amongst triples hitters, with their totals of 17 and 22 triples respectively, both past the age of 35.
The takeaway: we really, really need another guy like Sam Crawford again. And we need some ballparks to be realigned in order for someone to have a chance to be Sam Crawford.
And we need it sooner than later, because it is later than you think...