Saturday, December 22, 2007

Most Triples in a Season with Zero Home Runs

The triple is, in my opinion, one of the more exciting plays in baseball. It doesn't happen very often and usually combines a maximum of hectic movement by the defense on the field with a runner going all out. Of course, so does a Prince Fielder inside-the-park home run, but what is that besides a lethal aberration?

This sort of brings up a good point, however. Players that hit a lot of triples might luck out into making one an inside-the-park home run regardless of their actual power. Players today also might hit the sweet spot of the bat and combine it with a quirky ballpark to knock one over the wall. Coupling smaller ballparks and less triples (I suppose they're likely linked already) means that it's harder for someone to rack up triples without at least one home run.

On the other extreme, back in the deadball era, triples were much more prevalent. Anyone who has read about the 1903 World Series knows that overflow crowds on the field led to a bizarre ground rule triple rule, leading to seventeen triples in that series alone. This was the exception, not the norm, but consider that from 1876 to 1919 hitters in the National League rapped out 25,974 triples in 50,342 games. By contrast, you have to go all the way back to 1949 to equal that number for hitters in the NL: since then there have been 25,855 triples in 109,694 games. In the same periods, 10,387 home runs were hit in the first era versus 93,524 in the second. Put another way, the "break-even point" (roughly equal for all seasons before and after) for triples in NL history was 1930; for home runs, the break-even point was 1975. For games played, it's 1958 so that's kind of quirky, right between the triples and home runs seasons, but I digress.

In any case, it'd presumably be a lot easier for a hitter in the deadball era to get a bunch of triples without any home runs. That's why I've broken down this record into two lists: pre-1920 and post-1920.

Most Triples in a Season with Zero Home Runs from 1876-1919

1"Wee" Willie Keeler189719

Bill Kuehne188519
3Eddie Collins191617

John Coleman188617
5Kitty Bransfield190116
6Edd Roush191615

Dan McGann190215

Bill Phillips188615
9Frank Shugart189214

Sadie Houck188414
11Lee Magee191813

Doug Baird191713

Sam Crawford191613

Matty McIntyre190813

Joe Kelley190413

Jack Crooks189113

Pop Smith188513
1817 tied with

Most Triples in a Season with Zero Home Runs, 1920-2007

1Rabbit Maranville192215
2Lance Johnson199314

Lloyd Waner193514
4Lance Johnson199113

Rodney Scott198013

Luke Appling194013

Willie Kamm192713

Charlie Grimm192213
9Earl McNeely192612

Heinie Groh192012
11Marvell Wynne198411

Larry Bowa197911

Roger Metzger197111

Doc Cramer193711

Billy Rogell193311

Jackie Tavener192511
17Greg Gross197510

Don Kessinger197510

Roger Metzger197410

Nellie Fox195210

Rabbit Maranville192910

Willie Kamm192610

Stuffy McInnis192110

A lot of players on the second list played in the 1920's, but I'm kind of surprised by the number of hitters in the years after that. I guess the 1970's were a short-lived revival of the homer-less triples hitter.

No comments: