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.
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.