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Finishing "a triple short of the cycle" is really not a big deal

Aug 19, 2010, 11:17 AM EST

Joe Mauer remained red hot last night, going 4-for-5 with a homer and a double as the Twins extended their AL Central lead to five games, and afterward various reports about the game noted how the reigning MVP finished “a triple short of the cycle.”

That phrase appears constantly in game stories throughout every season and I’m guilty of using it plenty myself, so I’m certainly not picking on the writers who do the same. However, for some reason it finally occurred to me last night that perhaps “a triple short of the cycle” isn’t all that noteworthy.

Thanks to the amazing “Play Index” on Baseball-Reference.com, I looked up how many times this season a hitter has been “a triple short of the cycle” and the answer is … 172. Seriously. Mauer has done it three times all by himself, and he’s not even the leader. Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez have done it four times apiece. Hitting for the cycle is almost as rare as throwing a no-hitter, but coming up “a triple short of the cycle” happens almost 10 times a week.

Or, put another way: This season a hitter has finished “a triple short of the cycle” 172 times and there have been a grand total of 644 triples hit by all 30 teams. Given that, maybe we’ll start to see some game stories about how someone was “a single, double, and homer” short of the cycle when they hit a triple.

  1. BC - Aug 19, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    I was a single, double, triple and homer short of the cycle last night. Impressive, huh?

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Jimmy Rollins was a double short of the cycle and it didn’t make big news even though it probably happens alot less than being a triple short.

  3. Keith K. - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Is hitting for the cycle really rarer than a no-hitter?
    MLB.com lists 50 cycles and 19 no-hitters in the 2000s

  4. tjwilliams - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    According to the Play Index, 16 players have finished a game “a double short of the cycle”. And, for the record, no player has finished “a single short of the cycle” this season.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    I believe there have been 235 cycles and 266 no hitters in MLB history. So the cycle is a little more rare I guess, right?

  6. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    So I should not have included “probably” in my statement then ;)

  7. David - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    I’d still rather have a homer, triple and 2 doubles. I think everyone would agree that that is better, but it gets a lot less press. Which means that “The Cycle” is a mildly interesting statistical anomaly, but not really an accomplishment in and of itself. I’m sure you could pick any 4specific possible outcomes, and track the number of times an individual player collected all 4 in one game, and the rate would be similar to The Cycle. How many times has a batter grounded out to all 4 infielders in a game? Or had a single, F8, 4-6-3 and a walk? Go ahead…look it up.
    Comparing a cycle to a no-hitter is like comparing the Pirates to the Yankees. Sure, there are some similarities, but you are really talking about 2 completely different things.

  8. tjwilliams - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    That’s actually an old stat that hasn’t yet died. According to Wikipedia, there have been 268 regulation no-hitters and 291 cycles. Eric Byrnes’s cycle in 2003 put the cycles ahead for good since there was only one no-hitter between June 2003 and September of 2006 while there were 14 cycles.

  9. Joe - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Thanks, Craig. This is a pet peeve of mine.

  10. BC - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    The rarest thing has to be hitting 4 homers in a game. Only, what, like 10 guys have ever done it? I only remember Cameron, Whiten, Schmidt, Horner and Shawn Green doing so. Some other guy did it for Milwaukee in the 50′s but I can’t remember his name.

  11. gmc173 - Aug 19, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    What about a homerun cycle? Werth was a solo homer away from that 2 years ago I beleive

  12. Largebill - Aug 19, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Since we are talking cycles, I’ll admit I start thinking cycle anytime a player hits a triple in his first at bat. Especially if the hitter is a lumbering guy not known for legging out triples. A few years back I remember Hafner getting a triple in Minnesota and then completing the cycle. Means more when a slow guy does it.

  13. JasonC23 - Aug 19, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Ironically, being called “Craig” is a pet peeve of Aaron’s.

  14. Minnesota Matt - Aug 19, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    LOL

  15. RichardInBigD - Aug 19, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    Given that the hitters have, at least temporarily, lost the advantage they enjoyed via PED’s, I suspect that no-hitters will, in due time, overtake cycles in the all time count.

  16. BCTF - Aug 19, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Cano is a triple away from the cycle right now

  17. Joe - Aug 19, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    My bad, Aaron.

  18. Joe - Aug 19, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    Pitchers never gained an advantage with PEDs? Huh.

  19. David - Aug 19, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    If he hits one out he should just stop at 3rd, you know, because that would be a greater accomplishment

  20. fungo - Aug 19, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    4 players have gone a single short of the cycle this season.
    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/UBnyU

  21. dprat - Aug 19, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Joe Adcock, July 31, 1954: Milwaukee vs Brooklyn (those ’50s Braves teams are my earliest baseball memories)
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/event_hr.cgi?n1=adcocjo01&t=b

  22. Omega - Aug 19, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    And six or seven hits shy of a No-No….

  23. quint - Aug 19, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Given how rare tripples are to the other factors, I don’t even think about the prospect of a cycle until the tripple has been hit.
    and the cycle itself is basically useless, and of no value, its just a fun thing, it has no value, as David said, a HR, tripple and 2 doubles is of more value to you and your team.

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