The Phillies Pulled Off a Rare Feat on Wednesday

Author’s Note: This website is home to a lot of in-depth baseball analysis. This piece is no such thing. In the words below, you will find little else but pure, useless trivia.

Today’s game is the halfway point in the Phillies’ spring training schedule and Opening Day can’t come soon enough. Spring training is an awful tease that tricks me each year into rejoicing that “Baseball is back!” before realizing that the only baseball things that actually happen in March are utterly meaningless games, depressing reports of catastrophic injuries, and needlessly alarming reports of ultimately non-catastrophic injuries. In desperate need of relief from a bad case of the March baseball doldrums, I was thrilled when a statistical oddity in Wednesday’s exhibition game gave me an excuse dive head first into a baseball-reference dot com binge.

During the Phillies 6-5 defeat of the Baltimore Orioles, the Phils managed to hit four triples, one each by Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Freddy Galvis, and, believe it or not, 40-year old Bobby Abreu. This naturally raised the question of how often does that happen? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not very.

In the divisional era (since 1969) there have only been 29 regular season occurrences of a major league team hitting 4+ triples during a nine inning game and as triples have declined over time this quirky feat has become increasingly rare. The last time it happened was in a 2001 game between the Rangers and Indians during which Alex Rodriguez was a Texas shortstop, John Rocker pitched for Cleveland and Bryce Harper was an 8-year-old kid using his mom’s makeup to practice his eye black stylings, or so I assume.

As for the Phillies specifically, since 1914 they have hit 4+ triples in a regular season game only 6 times:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP
1 1986-08-02 PHI CHC W 12-2 44 40 12 18 7 5 0 11 4 0 6 0
2 1984-09-19 PHI NYM W 13-5 50 40 13 15 0 4 0 12 8 1 7 0
3 1936-05-13 PHI CIN W 9-7 42 36 9 14 1 4 1 9 4 0 4 1
4 1934-07-07 (2) PHI BSN W 11-10 40 37 11 12 1 4 0 11 3 0 0 0
5 1919-07-31 PHI STL W 11-4 45 40 11 16 2 4 0 0 5 0 4 0
6 1917-08-02 PHI STL W 6-0 40 33 6 11 1 4 0 0 5 0 5 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/12/2014.

The most recent game on the list, a 1986 showdown with the Cubs, stands out because the Phillies hit not just four, but five triples in the game, a feat which has been accomplished just five times in the Major Leagues since World War II and not once since that game. For a bit of bonus trivia, there’s one other unusual achievement you might notice in the stat line from that game. Somehow, the Phillies managed to record 12 extra base hits (7 doubles and 5 triples), but zero home runs. The only other MLB game since 1914 to feature such a stat line was a July 12, 1931 game in which the St. Louis Cardinals recorded 13(!) doubles but no homers or triples against the Chicago Cubs.

Here’s one final bit of useless trivia about games overflowing with triples. There have only been two postseason games in which a team hit four or more triples and both of them were in 1903 at the very first World Series. The Boston Americans hit five triples in Game 5, including one by a pitcher named Cy Young, and followed that up with five more in Game 7. Notably, both of those games were played at the former home the Pittsburgh Pirates, Exposition Park III, which sported the following cavernous dimensions: 400′ to left, 400′ to right, and 450′ to center.

Wednesday’s triples extravaganza was an exhibition game and, as such, won’t go down in any history books, but it was a fun reminder that baseball really will be here soon and with it will come all of the exclamations of “…first time that’s happened since…”, “You don’t see that every day!”, and “Every time you come to the ballpark you may see something you’ve never seen before” that are so deeply ingrained in baseball’s culture.

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1 comment

  1. adam

    March 13, 2014 12:22 PM

    when did Jayson Stark start writing for crashburn?

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