Triple plays: Brooks Robinson hit into plenty and Eric Bruntlett, well he’s awesome

The 2008 and 2009 Phillies seemed to be an unstoppable force. The combination up the middle of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley created a powerful 1-2 punch on offense and could turn double plays with ease.

Utley’s backup though? How about the Stanford-alum-turned-Astros-pinch-hitting-wizard-turned-2008-World-Series-Star Eric Bruntlett.

Yeah, the guy in the video. Bruntlett was released a couple months after this rare feat that will leave him as a trivia footnote.

Triple plays are an incredibly rare instance in baseball. There have been fewer than 700 of them and Bruntlett’s unassisted number was only the 15th in the modern era. There are 2,430 total games in each 162-game scheduled season, so that gives an idea of the rarity of these plays.

Thankfully, the good folks at sabr.org have helped log many of these triple plays from the 1800s until the mid 2012 season. So while these stats might need an asterisk, some fun trends emerge.

The Most Common?

The 5-4-3 around the horn is by far the front runner with 79 of them dating the April 2012. It is an absolute rally killer and essentially, an infield just needs a third baseman guarding the line and a strong turn at second.

NOTABLE 5-4-3: Longoria-Zobrist-Rodriguez. This was the one that shifted the momentum in Game 2 of the must win series in the final week of the 2011 series for the Tampa Bay Rays. The unfortunate batter? Russell Martin.

The Most Unlucky?

Brooks Robinson. The Hall of Famer hit into 4. Or then there’s George Sisler, one of the best hitters to ever play the game. He has hit into 3. The rest of the guys can just be seen as unlucky.

Dah fuh?

In 1913, this gem happened: 6-2-5-1-5*-4*-5-6-7* … The third baseman on this play has just put to shame every basketball player who uses the backboard to assist himself, he assisted two putouts, one of which was his own while getting his mitts on the ball three times.

Just for fun, it also happened in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, we don’t have video of that one, so we have to settle for a play where the ball was handled only seven times instead of nine.

 

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Triple Crown Fun: Mo Vaughn would have beaten Yaz in 1967

The Triple Crown managed to fill story lines in 2012 when Miguel Cabrera was having to beat out a floundering Josh Hamilton for the home run lead in the final weeks of the season.

cobb

In the Dead-Ball Era, Ty Cobb was a God among men, needing 9 HR, 107 RBI, .377 average to take the Triple Crown in 1909.

Cabrera won the coveted title with this line – 44 HR/139 RBI/.330 AVG. A good friend of mine and fellow baseball stats nerd Daniel Houston likes to point out the lack of direct correlation between HR and batting average, and particularly RBI and average.

Today’s analytics show Miggy was an incredible asset at the plate, but really, RBI and batting average are not indicative of a player’s true ability. Need to question that? Bill Mueller and Carney Lansford have batting titles. If you don’t know the latter, he was the guy in Angels in the Outfield that lined out to Tony Danza to end the final game in the movie and it was heartwarming. RBI depends on the players surrounding you in a  lineup. Huge RBI seasons are still incredible though.

See how Mo Vaughn actually was more productive than Carl Yastrzemski after the jump.

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Triples, Triple Plays and Triple Crowns – Baseball’s exciting anomalies

PART I – THE TRIPLE

Throughout the season, I’ll keep update with little nuggets that are just kind of fun ways to prove that even conventional baseball knowledge, cliches and knowhow are – well – wrong.

I’ll start with a part of baseball that is always entertaining, albeit, slightly uncommon – anything with the word “Triple” in the title. Triples, Triple Plays and Triple Crowns.

The triple itself is the most common of these anomalies, but because it is not an everyday occurrence, it becomes a strange event in the course of a career, especially for guys who are notoriously running with lead feet – Benji Molina and Prince Fielder – we are looking at you.

ALL TRIPLES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Prince Fielder hit a triple in an All-Star Game.
Michael Young hit a triple in an All-Star Game.
Therefore Prince Fielder = Michael Young since both have tripled and won an ASG MVP award, right?
This is the type of fan logic that makes call-in radio shows fun.

ALL TIME TRIPLES: PLAY MORE, HIT MORE
Rank the following players in terms of Career Triples: Wade Boggs, Craig Biggio, Rickey Henderson, Ozzie Guillen, George Brett, Larry Walker, Steve Finley, Lou Boudreau, Kenny Lofton, Otis Nixon.

[List after the jump]

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Baseball is nearly here, so a blog seems fitting

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge baseball fan, but also very guilty of nostalgia in nearly every way, shape or form. This blog will try and touch on the more laughable parts of sports, journalism, life and sports journalism.

Cheers,
Marcus

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