Triple play: Wikis


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In baseball, a triple play (denoted by TP) is the rare act of making three outs during the same continuous play.

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 so that three baserunners (usually including the batter) 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 in the Modern Era. 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.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, there have been 672 triple plays in Major League Baseball from 1876 to September 9, 2007. The most recent triple play was recorded September 6, 2009 by the Milwaukee Brewers against the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park. The triple play was a 5–4–3 triple play hit by Aaron Rowand of the Giants.

In 1973, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson started two 5–4–3 triple plays: one on July 7 against the Oakland Athletics' Gene Tenace, and one on September 20 against the Detroit Tigers' Frank Howard. In both cases, Bobby Grich was the second baseman.[1]

While playing with the New York Yankees in 1982, Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, and Roy Smalley got caught in a bizarre 2-5-3-1 triple play. Malley had struck out (Out #1), and meanwhile the runners from 1st and 2nd had taken off. The ball was thrown to 3rd (occupied by Gary Gaetti). Gaetti chased Murcer back to 2nd base and tagged him but he was called safe. Gaetti then threw the ball to 1st baseman Kent Hrbek to tag Nettles who was caught between 1st and 2nd (Out #2). During this, Murcer had attempted to take off from 2nd again. The ball was thrown from Hrbek to 3rd base to pitcher Terry Felton, who was now covering 3rd base and tagged Murcer (Out #3).[1][2]

Playing against the Boston Red Sox on July 17, 1990, the Minnesota Twins became the first (and to date the only) team in baseball history to turn two triple plays in the same game. Despite their defensive heroics, the Twins lost the game 1–0.[3][4]


2006–2009 Major-League triple plays

On May 14, 2006, during a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota's Luis Castillo popped up a bunt attempt with two runners on in the bottom of the sixth inning. The ball was caught by Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko for the first out. Konerko then threw to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi covering first to double up Shannon Stewart who was on the move. Iguchi then threw to shortstop Juan Uribe covering second to triple off Nick Punto, also on the move. The play was the White Sox's first since July 7, 2004 against the Angels and the first against the Twins since September 18, 1996.

Thirteen days later at the Metrodome, during a game between the Minnesota Twins and the Seattle Mariners on May 27, 2006, Seattle's Kenji Johjima hit a ground ball to Luis Castillo with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning. Castillo ran down Seattle's Adrián Beltré who was coming from first base, and tagged him out before throwing the ball to first baseman Justin Morneau to get Johjima out. Morneau quickly threw to third baseman Tony Batista who tagged Seattle's Carl Everett for the third out. Everett had come from second and overran third before deciding to stay at third, but by that time Batista was able to make the tag. Minnesota had not turned a triple play since its 1990 game against Boston.

On June 11, 2006 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, in a game between the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Kansas City Royals, the Royals turned an unconventional triple play with the help of an umpire appeal. Tampa Bay led Kansas City, 1–0, in the top of the second inning with men on first and third when Rays right fielder Russell Branyan lofted a fly ball to shallow center field. Royals outfielder David DeJesus caught the ball, then threw home trying to get the runner attempting to score, but it went over catcher Paul Bako's head, and pitcher Scott Elarton, who was backing up the play, caught the ball. Rocco Baldelli tagged up at first and tried to make it to second base, where he was thrown out. The Royals appealed to third-base umpire Bob Davidson that Aubrey Huff had tagged up before DeJesus caught the ball. Shortstop Angel Berroa threw to third baseman Mark Teahen, which nullified the apparent run, and completed the 8–1–6–5 triple play.

Some observers questioned whether this was a valid triple play, due to baseball rule 2.00 which provides: "A triple play is a play by the defense in which three offensive players are put out as a result of continuous action, providing there is no error between putouts." That argument was based on the assumption that DeJesus' wild throw would be an error between the first and second outs. However, the scoring rules also state that "A fielder is charged with an error when he fails to catch a ball hit or thrown to him, or he inaccurately throws a ball to another fielder, allowing a runner to reach safely or to advance a base or allowing a batter to prolong his time at bat, if the official scorer concludes that the fielder should have successfully made the play."

On September 2, 2006, the Rays produced a triple play comprising a strikeout and two baserunners caught off base, against the Seattle Mariners. Tampa pitcher J.P. Howell struck out Raúl Ibáñez. Catcher Dioner Navarro fired the ball to shortstop Ben Zobrist, who tagged Adrián Beltré out. During that throw, Jose Lopez tried to go home from third, but Zobrist returned the ball to Navarro in time to put Lopez out at the plate, completing the first 2–6–2 triple play in MLB history.

The White Sox turned a triple play yet again on September 18, 2006, against the Detroit Tigers. With runners on first and second, Carlos Guillen lined out to third baseman Joe Crede. Crede then threw the ball to second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, who stepped on second and tagged the runner coming from first base to complete the play.

During 2007 spring training in Arizona, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim completed triple plays on three separate occasions; because these did not occur during the regular season, they do not count in the statistics.

On April 21, 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies turned a triple play against the Cincinnati Reds. After a walk by Josh Hamilton and a single by Edwin Encarnacion, catcher David Ross grounded a ball that went from third to second to first (Abraham Núñez, Chase Utley, and Wes Helms, respectively) for the triple play. It was the first triple play for the Phillies since 1999 and the first against the Reds since 1997.

Eight days later, on April 29, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies turned an unassisted triple play vs. the Atlanta Braves. In the seventh inning, Tulowitzki caught Chipper Jones' line drive with the runners moving, stepped on second to retire Kelly Johnson and tagged Edgar Rentería before he could return to first. Even Tulowitzki seemed confused as to what he had done. After tagging Renteria, he went back and tagged second base again (even though Johnson had already been put out); he then threw the ball to first baseman Todd Helton.

On August 27, 2007, the Cleveland Indians turned a triple play against the Minnesota Twins. Mike Redmond grounded to Casey Blake, who stepped on third base, threw to Asdrubal Cabrera at second, who then threw to Víctor Martínez at first to complete the play. It was the first triple play that the Indians had turned since August 7, 1992, and the first triple play turned at Progressive Field.[5]

On September 12, 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies completed a triple play against the Colorado Rockies. Runners were at first and second with no outs in the top of the first inning. Matt Holliday hit a line drive to third baseman Greg Dobbs who caught it for the first out. Then he threw to Chase Utley who put out Cory Sullivan by stepping on second base. Utley then tagged Troy Tulowitzki, running from first base, to complete the third out.

On May 30, 2008, the San Francisco Giants completed a triple play versus the San Diego Padres, at AT&T Park. In the top of the eighth inning, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit the first pitch, a grounder to third baseman Jose Castillo. Castillo stepped on third base to force the runner from second, Brian Giles. He then relayed the ball to the second baseman, Ray Durham, to force the runner from first, Adrian Gonzalez. Durham then fired the ball to the first baseman, John Bowker, in time to put out the batter, Kouzmanoff, by half of a step.

On April 12, 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a triple play versus the Cincinnati Reds, at Great American Ballpark. In the bottom of the eighth inning with runners on first and second. Reds batter Edwin Encarnacion lined out to Pirates' shortstop Jack Wilson. Wilson relayed the ball to second baseman Freddy Sanchez, doubling Brandon Phillips at second. Sanchez fired the ball to Pirates' first baseman Adam LaRoche retiring Jay Bruce, the runner on first. This was the Pirates first triple play since 1993.[6]

On May 4, 2009, the Arizona Diamondbacks completed a triple play at Dodger Stadium versus Los Angeles. In the bottom of the second with catcher Russell Martin at second and center fielder Matt Kemp at first, Dodgers third basemen Casey Blake hit a line drive that was caught by D-Back shortstop Josh Wilson. Both runners were running on the pitch and were thus caught out on the relay from short to second to first.

On May 20, 2009, the Texas Rangers completed a triple play at Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers. In the bottom of the fourth, Brandon Inge on second & Ryan Raburn on first, they attempted a double steal, but catcher Gerald Laird hit a line drive that was caught by second baseman Ian Kinsler. He tossed the ball to Elvis Andrus, who touched second & then tagged Raburn for the third out.

The most recent "unassisted" triple play occurred on August 23, 2009 when Eric Bruntlett of the Philadelphia Phillies turned the first ever game-ending unassisted triple play in the National League. Playing against the New York Mets, in the bottom of the ninth inning with men on first and second, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive up the middle, where Bruntlett (substituting for Chase Utley) was covering with both men moving. Bruntlett caught the ball, tagged second to double up Luis Castillo and then tagged Daniel Murphy from first, thereby completing the triple play.[7] This was only the second game-ending unassisted triple play in MLB history and the first since 1927.

The most recent triple play occurred on September 6, 2009 in a game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants at Miller Park. Aaron Rowand of the Giants hit a ground ball to Casey McGehee of the Brewers. McGehee stepped on third, threw the ball to Felipe Lopez at second who turned and threw to Prince Fielder at first completing the 5–4–3 triple play.[8]

Unassisted triple plays

On May 12, 2008, in game 2 of a doubleheader, Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians turned an unassisted triple play against the Toronto Blue Jays. With Lyle Overbay batting, Kevin Mench on second, and Marco Scutaro on first, the Blue Jays attempted a hit and run. Overbay lined out to Cabrera, who tagged second base and then tagged Scutaro, who had already run to second. It was only the 14th unassisted triple play in history. The Blue Jays won the game in 10 innings.[9]

The most recent unassisted triple play is Eric Bruntlett's, described above. Bruntlett's is the second game-ending unassisted triple play, and the National League's first.

Unfielded triple play

Political columnist and baseball enthusiast George Will, in a baseball quiz in Newsweek for April 6, 2009, p. 60, 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 rules infraction. Two outs. Just after that, the falling ball hits the runner from second, who is called out for interference: Three outs.

Whenever a batter or runner is out without a fielder touching the ball, rules 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. It can be imagined that 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Nash, Bruce; Zullo, Allan. The Baseball Hall of Shame 4. Pocket Books. pp. s 35–36. ISBN 0-671-74609-X. 
  3. ^ "Baseball's Triple Plays – Trivia & Miscellanea". 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2008-04-07. "Minnesota Twins turned TWO triple plays in the same game against the Boston Red Sox on 7/17/1990, 4th & 8th innings. Only time that two TP's occurred in a game." 
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: Multimedia: Latest Videos
  6. ^ [1]Pirates turn first triple play since 1993 | News
  7. ^ [2]Bruntlett joins rare company |
  8. ^ Associated Press staff (2009-09-06). "Brewers turn triple play against Giants". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  9. ^ Cabrera turns unassisted triple play | News

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