How many triple plays in mlb history? There are many ways a triple play can be performed; most of them are done with runners on first and second base. Typically, a ball hit to the shortstop or third baseman is fielded, the runner heading to third is forced out or tagged out, the ball is thrown to second base for a force play, and then finally to first to throw out the batter. Another common sequence (to the extent such plays can be called common) is a line drive to the shortstop or second baseman that is caught without the runners noticing or after they have taken large leads (as in the case of a hit and run), the runners then being forced or tagged out when they fail to tag up.
Triple plays are relatively rare, since a triple play requires at least two runners already on base, no outs, a batted ball hit in a way that allows it to be fielded cleanly so that three baserunners can be put out or unusual incompetence in baserunning, and quick action from the fielders to perform.
The unassisted triple play, a triple play in which only one fielder handles the ball, is the least common type of triple play, and is arguably the rarest occurrence in baseball: it has happened only 15 times since 1900 at the major league level. Triple plays, even of the unassisted variety, are not extraordinarily difficult for major league fielders to achieve; their rarity is due to their dependence on specific circumstances arising in a game.
The chart below includes every triple play in Major League Baseball history, research by Baseball Almanac. The date of the game, the inning (Inn), the league (LG), what team actually turned the triple play (Fielding Team), whether they were at home or away (HA), what team was at the plate (Batting Team), which bases had runners (Men On) and how did the official scorer denote the play (Scored).
How many unassisted triple plays have been recorded in MLB history?
The triple play is an event very rarely seen in the MLB. Every pitcher’s dream, the conditions and execution have to be perfectly right for this unicorn event to even have a chance at happening.
A triple play is when three outs are recorded in a single play. It can be the difference between a jam and a massive sigh of relief for all the defending players and their respective fans.
For a triple play to even be possible, there needs to be two preconditions. The first is that there must be at least two baserunners. In addition to the batter, these represent the possible outs that can be obtained from the play. Secondly, an activity must happen during the play that allows the three outs to even be obtained.
The most frequent triple plays occur from groundballs. However, with the MLB being speedier than ever, there are very few runners who cannot outrun a ball that has to go to third and second base before being thrown to first.
Line-drives are another way we see triple plays transpire in the MLB. Sometimes, a line-drive is hit to a fielder, causing the runners to break. If the fielder steps on one base and then tags the third runner out, this is an unassisted triple play. This means that all three outs were made by one player.
As rare as triple play is, unassisted triple plays are even rarer. There have only been 15 unassisted triple plays observed in history, making the event even rarer than a perfect game.
The most recent unassisted triple play in the MLB occurred in 2009, and was made by Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Eric Bruntlett. A ball was hit to Bruntlett by New York Mets hitter Jeff Francoeur. Bruntlett caught the drive and proceeded to field the play described above.
MLB triple plays are not something you expect to see
Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play was the first to happen since 1927. This gives a glimpse of how exceedingly rare it is. Although the Boston Red Sox and a few other teams registered fielding double plays in 2022, fans do not show up at a ballpark expecting to see one.
Braves turn first 8-3-5 triple play since 1884 … and lose to Red Sox
The Atlanta Braves achieved a piece of history on Tuesday night, turning an 8-3-5 triple play for only the second time ever in the major leagues.
Center fielder Michael Harris caught a shallow fly by the Boston Red Sox’ Triston Casas and threw to first base after Adam Duvall had strayed too far towards second base.
The throw easily got Duvall, then first baseman Matt Olson smartly fired the ball across the diamond to get Masataka Yoshida out at third after he tagged up and attempted to advance on Duvall’s running gaffe. Harris held up his arms and leaped as Austin Riley tagged out Yoshida, who was several steps away from the bag when Olson’s throw arrived.
After the game, Duvall was happy to poke fun at his running error, perhaps because the Red Sox ended up winning the game 7-1.
“My instincts told me right off the bat that it was off the end,” Duvall said. “I’m reading the outfielder. My goal is to get to second if it drops in front of him. I got out a little too far, and he made a good throw back. It’s one of those things; it’s risk/reward, and it didn’t go my way tonight.”
A Boston team were involved in the last 8-3-5 triple play in the majors. The Beaneaters turned one against the Providence Grays in 1884.
Triple plays are rare in baseball, partly because the conditions that allow them (for example, two baserunners and no outs) do not occur on most plays. On average, there are five triple plays every MLB season. The Braves’ last triple play came in 2004.
MLB Records That Have Only Happened Once
While the New York Yankees pulled off a triple play earlier in the 2013 season, the Minnesota Twins hold the record of recording two triple plays in a single game. This came against the Red Sox on July 17, 1990.
While Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb lost no hitters during the ninth inning in consecutive starts in 1988, Cincinnati Reds starter Johnny Vander Meer completed back-to-back no-hitters on June 11 and June 15, 1938. Vander Meer is still the only player to ever throw consecutive no-hitters.
On May 1, 1920, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves played one of the longest games in MLB history. During the 26-inning game, Charlie Pick went 0-for-11 at the plate for the Braves, marking a record no one has yet surpassed (and many are probably thankful for that too!).
On April 23, the Upton brothers became the second set of brothers to hit back-to-back home runs (video above). Seattle Mariners Mike Cameron and Bret Boone, however, are the only duo to hit back-to-back home runs TWICE in the same inning. They did so on May 2, 2002.
On August 27, 1977 Texas Rangers Toby Harrah and Bump Wills became the first and only players to ever to hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs.
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