Wray: The new all-time triples list

From Miles Wray at The Hardball Times on March 25, 2015:

From generation to generation, the shape, tenor, and texture of baseball inevitably transforms and evolves into something that the forefathers of bygone eras would be hard-pressed to recognize. For instance: the thought of a major league team flying commercial on road trips, as Jim Bouton’s Seattle Pilots did in the hilarious Ball Four, reads like a joke to modern minds. Even major leaguers played an event called the World Series in the opening years of the 20th century, the flimsy, finger-length gloves and the baggy wool uniforms make those games seem a lot closer, on the evolutionary scale, to baseball’s medieval origins than to what we see when we flick on Extra Innings.

We know, as fans, when and how to mentally adjust the vaunted all-time record book to account for these generational changes. We will never hold it against modern pitchers, for example, that they are   unable to break Cy Young’s record of 511 pitcher wins — or even that they are unable to approach Walter Johnson’s second-best 417 wins. Being a professional pitcher today requires total, year-round physical and emotional commitment from the nation’s — the world’s — best athletes, and the very best of those are barely able to inch up over 200 innings pitched in a season. We know this.

The modern wizard of the mound, Clayton Kershaw, has both an early start in the majors (debut at age 20), and an impeccable (so far, knock on wood) record of health — both necessities if a player is going to make a run at an all-time record. And still, at Kershaw’s current average of 16 wins a year, it would take him until his age-51 season to catch Young. It will even take him until his age-38 season to cross the currently revered 300-win threshold — and it’s entirely possible, in the coming years, that Kershaw convinces us that he is the game’s best-ever pitcher even without this particular statistical achievement.

It’s time to apply this same generational-adjustment wisdom to another corner of the record book — a forgotten corner of the record book. Forgotten, perhaps, precisely because it is so totally dominated by scowling, pre-war, pre-integration old-timers: the all-time triples list.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-new-all-time-triples-list/

Originally published: March 25, 2015. Last Updated: March 25, 2015.