Triple play

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JiggsDonahue.jpg
Billy Gilbert (baseball).jpeg
Bill Friel.jpg
Jiggs Donahue, Billy Gilbert, and Bill Friel (left to right) of the Milwaukee Brewers recorded the first triple play in American League history on July 14, 1901, against the Chicago White Stockings. [1]

In baseball, a triple play (denoted as TP in baseball statistics) is the act of making three outs during the same play. There have only been 728 triple plays in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1876, [1] an average of just over five per season.

Contents

They depend on a combination of two factors, which are themselves uncommon:

In baseball scorekeeping, the abbreviation GITP can be used if the batter grounded into a triple play. [3]

Examples

The most likely scenario for a triple play is no outs with runners on first base and second base, which has been the case for the majority of MLB triple plays. [1] In that context, two examples of triple plays are:

Most recent MLB triple play

The most recent triple play in MLB was turned by the Washington Nationals on May 20, 2022, against the Milwaukee Brewers, at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with runners on first and second base, Brewers batter Luis Urías hit a line drive to third base. The Nationals' Maikel Franco stepped on third base (first out) before throwing to César Hernández at second base (second out), and Hernández then threw to Josh Bell at first base (third out). [10]

Unassisted triple plays

Bill Wambsganss executed an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series. Bill Wambsganss.jpg
Bill Wambsganss executed an unassisted triple play in the 1920 World Series.

The rarest type of triple play, and one of the rarest events of any kind in baseball, is for a single fielder to complete all three outs. There have only been 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history, [11] making this feat rarer than a perfect game. [12]

Typically, an unassisted triple play is achieved when a middle infielder catches a line drive near second base (first out), steps on the base before the runner who started there can tag up (second out), and then tags the runner advancing from first before he can return there (third out). Of the 15 unassisted triple plays in MLB history, 12 have been completed in this manner by a middle infielder.

Most recent MLB unassisted triple play

The most recent MLB unassisted triple play is consistent with the above – it occurred on August 23, 2009, by second baseman Eric Bruntlett of the Philadelphia Phillies, in a game against the New York Mets. In the bottom of the ninth inning with men on first and second, the base runners were both running when Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive very close to second base, which Bruntlett was covering. Bruntlett caught the ball (first out), stepped on second before Luis Castillo could tag up (second out), and then tagged Daniel Murphy who was approaching from first (third out). [13] [14] This was only the second game-ending unassisted triple play in MLB history, the first one having occurred in 1927. [15]

Unfielded triple play

Political columnist and baseball enthusiast George Will posed one hypothetical way that a triple play could occur with no fielder touching the ball. With runners on first and second and no outs, the batter hits an infield fly, and is automatically out: one out. The runner from first passes the runner from second and is called out for that infraction: two outs. Just after that, the falling ball hits the runner from second, who is called out for interference: three outs. [16]

Whenever a batter or runner is out without a fielder touching the ball, MLB rule book section 10.09 provides for automatic putouts to be assigned by the official scorer. In this case, the first out would be credited to whoever the official scorer believes would have had the best chance of catching the infield fly. The second and third outs would be credited to the fielder(s) closest to the points the runners were, when their respective outs occurred. Under the scenario described above, the same fielder (the shortstop, for example) could be credited with all three putouts, thus attaining an unassisted triple play without having touched the ball.

While this has never occurred in a Major League game, Texas League Hall of Famer Keith Bodie tells Sporting News that this event occurred in a 1986 spring training game. [17]

Odd and notable triple plays

Joe Pignatano hit into a triple play in the final at bat of his career. Joe Pignatano 1969.jpg
Joe Pignatano hit into a triple play in the final at bat of his career.
Neil Walker was the second baseman in MLB's first 4-5-4 triple play. IMG 6787 Neil Walker.jpg
Neil Walker was the second baseman in MLB's first 4-5-4 triple play.

Historical totals

The statistics below reflect historical totals through June 20, 2021.

Baserunners

Position of baserunners when the triple play started.

Men on baseOccurrences [1] PercentageMost recent
1 2 -48920-Jun-2021
1 2 313029-Jul-2020
1 - 37017-Apr-2021
- 2 33717-Jun-2021
1 2 Dagger-14-plain.png1see note
Total727100 

Dagger-14-plain.png June 11, 1885, by the New York Giants against the Providence Grays, scored as 4*-4*-3*, [1] with a newspaper account the next day naming the fielders, batter, and runners at first and second; [35] however, it is unknown if there was a runner at third base.

Outs

Baseball positions.svg

Asterisks (*) denote which players recorded outs, per standard baseball positions.
Combinations that have occurred at least 10 times are listed.

FieldersOccurrencesPercentageMost recent
5*-4*-3*10320-Jun-2021
6*-4*-3*5701-Sep-2015
4*-6*-3*4406-Jun-2014
3*-3*-6*3923-Sep-2016
6*-6*-3*2808-Jul-2016
4*-4*-3*2202-May-2017
4*-3*-6*1803-May-1985
1*-6*-3*1619-May-1997
6-4*-3*-2*1328-Apr-1971
5*-5*-3*1129-Jul-2020
5-4*-3*-2*1024-Aug-2014
Total361 

Source: [1]

Cultural references

On June 27, 1967, the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates staged a triple play before their game at Shea Stadium for the film The Odd Couple. [36] The scene depicts Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates grounding into a game-ending 5-4-3 triple play. [37] [38] Mazeroski, who played 17 major league seasons, was only involved in one actual MLB triple play; he was the runner on second base when the Chicago Cubs turned a 3-3-6 triple play on October 3, 1965. [1] [39]

Related Research Articles

In baseball, an earned run is any run that was fully enabled by the offensive team's production in the face of competent play from the defensive team. Conversely, an unearned run is a run that would not have been scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball committed by the defense.

Stolen base In baseball, when a runner advances one or more bases before the ball has been batted

In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a runner advances to a base to which he is not entitled and the official scorer rules that the advance should be credited to the action of the runner. The umpires determine whether the runner is safe or out at the next base, but the official scorer rules on the question of credit or blame for the advance under Rule 10 of the MLB's Official Rules.

In baseball, fielder's choice refers to a variety of plays involving an offensive player reaching a base due to the defense's attempt to put out another baserunner, or the defensive team's indifference to his advance. Fielder's choice is not called by the umpires on the field of play; rather, it is recorded by the official scorer to account for the offensive player's advance without crediting him with an offensive statistic such as a hit or stolen base.

Double play Making two outs during the same play in baseball

In baseball and softball, a double play is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. Double plays can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and fewer than two outs.

Unassisted triple play Unusual baseball play

In baseball, an unassisted triple play occurs when a defensive player makes all three outs by himself in one continuous play, without his teammates making any assists. Neal Ball was the first to achieve this in Major League Baseball (MLB) under modern rules, doing so on July 19, 1909. For this rare play to be possible there must be no outs in the inning and at least two runners on base, normally with the runners going on the pitch. An unassisted triple play usually consists of a hard line drive hit directly at an infielder for the first out, with that same fielder then able to double off one of the base runners and tag a second for the second and third outs.

Infield fly rule Rule of baseball

The infield fly rule is a rule of baseball and softball that treats certain fly balls as though caught, before the ball is caught, even if the infielder fails to catch it or drops it on purpose. The umpire's declaration of an infield fly means that the batter is out regardless of whether the ball is caught. The rule exists solely to prevent the defense from executing a double play or triple play by deliberately failing to catch a ball that an infielder could catch with ordinary effort.

First baseman Infield defensive position in baseball and softball

A first baseman, abbreviated 1B, is the player on a baseball or softball team who fields the area nearest first base, the first of four bases a baserunner must touch in succession to score a run. The first baseman is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.

Out (baseball)

In baseball, an out occurs when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out. When a batter or runner is out, they lose their ability to score a run and must return to the dugout until their next turn at bat. When three outs are recorded in a half-inning, the batting team's turn expires.

Baseball rules Overview of the rules of baseball at different levels and in different countries

The rules of baseball differ slightly from league to league, but in general share the same basic game play.

In baseball, a force is a situation when a baserunner is compelled to vacate their starting base and try to advance to the next base. In this situation, the batter became a runner and the baserunner must advance from their starting base to avoid being overrun by the batter-runner. When a runner is forced to advance to a base, they are forced out if an opponent with possession of the ball reaches that base before they do. A runner at first base is always forced to attempt to advance to second base when the batter becomes a runner, because the batter-runner is always forced to advance to first base. Runners at second or third base are forced only when all bases preceding their time-of-pitch base are occupied by other baserunners and the batter becomes a runner. Runners are no longer forced to advance if any runner behind them on the basepaths is put out.

In baseball, interference occurs in situations in which a person illegally changes the course of play from what is expected. Interference might be committed by players on the offense, players not currently in the game, catchers, umpires, or spectators. Each type of interference is covered differently by the rules.

In baseball, obstruction is when a fielder illegally hinders a baserunner running within the basepath. Baserunners are generally permitted to run from base to base without being physically blocked or hindered by a fielder. The only time that a fielder is not obligated to "get out of the way" of a baserunner is when the fielder is fielding a hit ball or in possession of the ball.

Pickoff

In baseball, a pickoff is an act by a pitcher or catcher, throwing a live ball to a fielder so that the fielder can tag out a baserunner who is either leading off or about to begin stealing the next base.

Baseball scorekeeping

Baseball scorekeeping is the practice of recording the details of a baseball game as it unfolds. Professional baseball leagues hire official scorers to keep an official record of each game, but many fans keep score as well for their own enjoyment. Scorekeeping is usually done on a printed scorecard and, while official scorers must adhere precisely to one of the few different scorekeeping notations, most fans exercise some amount of creativity and adopt their own symbols and styles.

Eric Bruntlett American baseball player

Eric Kevin Bruntlett, is an American former professional baseball utility player, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Bruntlett is perhaps best remembered for executing an unassisted triple play, in 2009.

In baseball, the fourth out is a legal out made by the defense after three outs in a half-inning already have been made. According to the rules, the third out does not cause the ball to become dead; if the fielders make a subsequent out that prevents a run from scoring, this out will supersede the apparent third out, thus becoming the recorded third out. For statistical purposes, the apparent third out is "undone" and the fourth out's result is recorded instead. With the advent of video replay appeals, a new rationale for making extra out(s) has emerged - insurance against a prior out being undone on appeal. These fourth out situations are not the same as four strikeouts in an inning.

The wheel play is a defensive strategy in baseball designed to defend against a sacrifice bunt. The play's name derives from the wheel-like rotation of the infielders.

References

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