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Back to Back Triples to Start a Game

Posted by Raphy on August 6, 2011

Earlier today, there was a discussion in the comments of another thread about  using the PI to find back to back triples to lead off a game. And while it is not possible to create a definitive list of such triples using PI, we can come really close. The key here is simply looking for triples by the #2 hitter in the first inning with a runner of third and no outs.  This search gives us a list of 40 events since 1950. From those events, we can eliminate those which started with a  non-triple and the runner advanced to third before the next batter tripled. This give us this list:

  1. Yr# Gm# Date Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) RBI WPA RE24 LI Play Description
    1 1 1954-06-15 Nellie Fox CHW PHA Marion Fricano down 2-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.21 Triple to RF; Carrasquel Scores
    2 1 1955-08-10 Enos Slaughter KCA CHW Harry Byrd tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.05 Triple to RF; Power Scores
    3 1 1957-08-03 Bob Boyd BAL KCA Ralph Terry down 1-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.11 1.00 1.25 Triple (CF-RF); Gardner Scores
    4 1 1960-09-04 Carroll Hardy BOS WSH Jack Kralick tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.05 Triple to RF; Green Scores
    5 1 1963-05-18 Jim Gilliam LAD PIT Vern Law down 1-0 b1 --3 0 1 (0-0) 1 0.12 1.00 1.30 Triple to RF (Line Drive); Oliver Scores
    6 1 1966-08-21 Russ Snyder BAL @DET Earl Wilson tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.15 Triple to RF; Aparicio Scores
    7 1 1969-05-21 Richie Hebner PIT @SDP Tommie Sisk tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.16 Triple; Alou Scores
    8 1 1969-09-08 Jesus Alou HOU SDP Mike Corkins tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.11 Triple; Morgan Scores
    9 1 1970-04-21 Glenn Beckert CHC STL Bob Gibson down 1-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.08 Triple to RF (Line Drive); Kessinger Scores
    10 1 1973-04-15 (2) Tito Fuentes SFG CIN Jim McGlothlin tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.07 Triple; Bonds Scores
    11 1 1973-05-19 Roger Metzger HOU SFG Jim Barr tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.10 Triple; Wynn Scores
    12 1 1973-08-20 Bert Campaneris OAK DET Jim Perry tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.10 Triple to RF; North Scores
    14 1 1974-09-06 Roger Metzger HOU SDP Dan Spillner tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.11 1.09 1.11 Triple to RF (Ground Ball); Gross Scores; Metzger Scores/Adv on E9/unER
    15 1 1976-05-14 Manny Sanguillen PIT LAD Tommy John tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.11 Triple to RF; Stennett Scores
    16 1 1976-07-21 Don Kessinger STL @LAD Don Sutton tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.16 Triple to LF; McBride Scores
    17 1 1977-05-14 Bill Almon SDP @PHI Jim Kaat tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.06 Triple to LF; Richards Scores
    18 1 1978-05-20 Bob Bailor TOR NYY Jim Beattie tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.08 Triple to RF; Bosetti Scores
    19 1 1978-07-27 Dave Bergman HOU NYM Tom Hausman tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.15 Triple to LF; Puhl Scores
    20 1 1979-05-21 George Brett KCR SEA Glenn Abbott tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.01 Triple to RF; Wilson Scores
    21 1 1979-07-06 Frank Taveras NYM SDP Randy Jones tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.10 Triple to LF; Youngblood Scores
    24 1 1980-06-16 Dwayne Murphy OAK @BOS Chuck Rainey tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.04 Triple to RF; Henderson Scores
    25 1 1980-08-03 (1) Ozzie Smith SDP @PIT Rick Rhoden tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.13 Triple to RF; Richards Scores
    28 1 1983-07-04 (2) Bryan Little MON @CHC Fergie Jenkins tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.11 Triple; Raines Scores
    29 1 1983-09-24 Butch Davis KCR MIN Frank Viola tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.09 1.00 1.05 Triple to RF; Wilson Scores
    31 1 1987-08-07 Tony Gwynn SDP HOU Mike Scott down 1-0 b1 --3 0 1 0.10 1.00 1.18 Triple to CF; Jefferson Scores
    32 1 1988-09-29 Mitch Webster CHC @MON Bryn Smith tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 1 (0-0) 1 0.10 1.00 1.15 Triple to RF (Ground Ball); Dunston Scores
    35 1 1999-04-11 Mark McLemore TEX ANA Tim Belcher tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 3 (1-1) 1 0.08 1.00 .91 Triple to RF (Ground Ball); Goodwin Scores
    36 1 2000-05-10 Craig Biggio HOU COL Masato Yoshii tied 0-0 b1 --3 0 3 (1-1) 1 0.08 1.00 .93 Triple (Line Drive to Deep CF-RF); Cedeno Scores
    38 1 2004-05-14 Chone Figgins ANA @BAL Kurt Ainsworth tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 4 (1-2) 1 0.09 1.00 1.02 Triple to CF (Fly Ball to Deep CF); Eckstein Scores
    39 1 2005-07-07 Julio Lugo TBD DET Sean Douglass down 3-0 b1 --3 0 3 (0-2) 1 0.09 1.00 1.12 Triple to CF (Fly Ball to Deep CF); Crawford Scores
    40 1 2011-08-05 Brennan Boesch DET @KCR Felipe Paulino tied 0-0 t1 --3 0 4 (2-1) 1 0.09 1.00 1.11 Triple to 1B (Line Drive to Deep RF Line); Jackson Scores
    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 8/6/2011.

We also need to figure out if there are any games in which the lead-off hitter tripled and then scored before the #2 hitter tripled. This is as easy as the first step.  We can search for triples by the #2 hitter with no outs and no one on in the first inning and then manually check the results for games with lead-off triples. You can find the list here, but every game listed involves triples preceded by home runs.
The last thing we would  need to figure out is if there are any games in which the lead-off hitter tripled and then was out on the bases before the #2 hitter  tripled. I can't think of any way of doing this with the PI, but if such a game exists it is probably unique.
Please note that this post utilizes the PI event finder which is complete since 1973, but only mostly complete from 1950-1972.

24 Responses to “Back to Back Triples to Start a Game”

  1. John Autin Says:

    Raphy, good post. Two points:

    1. It appears you have not filtered for this being done specifically by the visiting team. I guess one could say that "to start a game" applies to either half of the 1st inning, but to me it means the first 2 batters in the top of the 1st.

    2. Do I understand you correctly, that one still has to eyeball each play-by-play of each search?

  2. Fitz Says:

    Astros with 5, amazing. Is that mostly due to the slick turf and big dimensions of the Astrodome?

  3. Neil L. Says:

    Raphy, absolutely with JA on this one.

    Forgive my thick skull, but how does this eliminate a baserunner who walked or singled and then stole two bases during the second at-bat, before the second batter tripled?

  4. Raphy Says:

    @1 @3 JA - PI defines leading-off a game like you - the first batter of the game.
    However, I grew up in the Rickey Henderson era and baseball clearly used the term to refer to either teams first PA. When I look for starting a game, thats what I'm looking for.

    If you don't want the home team, then only include visiting teams. (Of course you'll eliminate home teams that bat first, but that's a headache for a different day.)

  5. Raphy Says:

    @1 @3
    I'm sorry I was not clear, to eliminate the non-back to back triple games, I manually checked each game from the ones in the link and deleted the ones that didn't start with a triple.

    Whenever, I am presented with a PI question that is not readily solvable with the PI tools, my goal is to use the tools to create a set small enough to manually find the answer. That is what I have done here. It doesn't take long to quickly check the first 2 plays of 40 games, if you use the links to open separate tabs.

  6. Tristram Says:

    Seems that the 70's were the time to get this done. In the 20 years before 1973, it was done 9 times (.45/yr). In the 31 years since 1980, it's been done 9 times (.29/yr). But from 1973-1980, it was done 13 times in 8 years (1.6/yr). Is that within "random fluctuation", or was there something about the parks or players in the 70s that caused it?

  7. John Autin Says:

    @5, Raphy -- How can I make the links open separate tabs?

  8. John Autin Says:

    @6, Tristram -- The '70s was the first decade with lots of artificial turf parks, which I think has some correlation to more triples. Also the first decade with 24 MLB teams.

  9. Raphy Says:

    @7 Right click on the date and select "open link in a new tab"

  10. Tristram Says:

    @8 JA, I'm sure you're right about the parks. although I'm surprised it didn't last throughout the 80's. Reminds me that the rise in offense during the 90s was partly driven by the new parks being built. It wasn't all steroids.

  11. John Autin Says:

    @9, Raphy -- Thanks for answering ... and for not making fun of such a stupid question! My technical inaptitude knows no bounds.

  12. jim Says:

    apparently brennan boesch can actually play baseball - who knew?

  13. Charles Says:

    I looked at Houston to try to figure out if they hit an unusual number of triples from 1973-1980. From 1971 to 1984, they had 8 years of 50 or more triples, the only years they have done so. They were 1,2,3 in the league 9 times. 1997 was the only other year they were in the top 3. From 1975 to 1984, the only year they were below 45 was 1981, the strike shortened year, when they finished 2nd in the league. From 1975 to 1983, they never finshed better than 9th in homers, never finished better than 5th in hits, but were in the top 4 in 3B every year. Between 1971 and 1984, 14 different players were in the top 10 in triples, with 4 different players leading the league. From 1980 to 1984, they placed 3 players in the top 10 four times.

  14. Neil L. Says:

    Thank you, Raphy.

    I believe we call that eyeballing in here. 🙂

  15. Neil L. Says:

    Charles. trying to sort out the meaning of your post. Thank you for doing the work.

    Are you saying, based on what you looked up, that triples are primarily a park-effect, a function of the line up, the type of surface, team "aggressiveness", or something else?

  16. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Primarily a park effect? I'm not sure. But parks are certainly a major factor.

  17. Charles Says:

    I looked at the team leaders for Houston in triples from 1971 to 1984. All but one, Omar Moreno, had his career high as a member of the Asros. Moreno only played 97 games for Houston in his only season there, but hit 11 triples. In those seasons, 59% of the triples by the team leaders were hit at home. From 1977 to 1980, the Asros hit 140 triples at home, 84 in away games. Visiting teams hit 74, versus opponents hitting 79 in away games. So, a park effect did not translate to the visiting team. Houston was 3rd total 1977 to 1980 in triples hit in the park by visiting and home teams behind Philadelphia and St. Louis, all with artificial turf. From 1977 to 1980, the 3B/AB percentage was higher on artificial turf vs grass in National League. Parks with low 3B frequencies were the Mets, Dodgers, and Braves with grass surfaces. The Dodgers and Braves were low in 3B and SB, but high in HR totals for those 4 years. Houston was the exact opposite. This goes back to a line-up effect as well as a park/surface effect. Did artificial turf favor quicker, less powerful, even smaller players?

    Houston had back-to back triples to start games in 1969 and 1973. Houston only hit 1 game lead off triple in each year. In 1973 there were 13 lead off triples in the NL. Three of those were followed by triples.

  18. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Jesús Alou was the first major-league batter that Mike Corkins ever faced (9/8/69), Joe Morgan the second. Corkins wild-pitched Morgan home before the Astros' #3 hitter completed his plate appearance. I think I remember Jim Bouton remarking in Ball Four that the two triples and the wild pitch occurred on Corkins' first three pitches, and that an Astros player yelled out from the bench, "Welcome to the big leagues, kid."

  19. John Autin Says:

    Kahuna rocks!

    P.S. Naturally, it was to be the only time in 157 career games that Corkins allowed 2 triples.

  20. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    And one of only two times that Jesús Alou tripled leading off the first inning. Here's the other time.

  21. Neil L. Says:

    @18 @20
    Kahuna, you are like a cruise missile homing in on its target when you go after a baseball event or statistic. 🙂 Well done.

  22. Charles Says:

    @20 So I see McCovey in the lineup as a pinch hitter batting .218 in late May. He bats .409 in June and to get up to .294, goes to September at .289 and finishes at .276

  23. nesnhab Says:


    Later in the year, Corkins gave up Willie Mays's 600th homer. Welcome to the big leagues...

  24. nesnhab Says:


    Whatver effects artificial turf had on old statistics, it is at the present time, almost a moot point. Yay