Where Triples Go To Die

From SABR member John Thorn at MLBlogs.com on May 16:

Mark Gauvreau Judge, grandson of longtime Washington Senator first baseman Joe Judge, wrote ruefully about the man who invented the Big Bam game: “Ruth was the catalyst for baseball as we know it today — a Las Vegas slumber party, with epochs of lifelessness punctuated by the occasional blast from a slugger. What the game needs is what Joe Judge offered: hits, stolen bases, fielding, movement.” Pride of bloodline aside — Gramps was a solid but unspectacular player from 1915 to 1934 — this sentiment strikes a chord with me.

From its earliest epoch, when a runner could be retired by a thrown ball, baseball was a game defined by its adventurous circuit around the bases. The ancient field games — before bats and balls and other implements came into play — involved chaotic chasing, eluding, and capture. When baseball began it was primarily a game for runners and fielders rather than the batsman or the pitcher. The new game of ball took its name from its hallmark feature: the base, a safe haven symbolizing a bay or harbor amid the perilous homeward course.


Looking at Joe Judge’s record, this is what popped out at me: in 15 years as an everyday player, he hit 154 triples, yet his average of 10 per season was unremarkable. He never led his league in that category, and even the three seasons in which he hit 15 triples left him no better than third best. Doing a quick study embracing three major-league seasons, representing the high point of Lardner’s interest (1911), the first year of league expansion (1961), and the 2006 season (which provided a recent high-water mark for home runs) I calculated these results, for both teams in an average major league game:

Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/05/16/where-triples-go-to-die/

Originally published: May 16, 2011. Last Updated: May 16, 2011.