Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Triple-Triple (1990-present)

The above is one of my favourite ways to measure player performance. It’s not so much an analytical tool as a quick and easy way to learn who has had an awesome year without looking at BA/OBP/SLG, home runs, OPS or OPS+. The ‘triple-triple’ means the player hit triple digits in three counting stat categories: runs, RBI and BB. Generally, you have to have a good batting eye and be a good hitter with a bit of power.

Its analytical shortcomings are obvious in that it penalizes leadoff hitters and guys who hit at the bottom of the lineup as well as poor offensive clubs. It is designed more for the “run producers” however as we know, runs and RBI are very team dependent. Interestingly, in 1990 no player landed the triple-triple where I decided to start looking. Why 1990? Just because, I had to start somewhere and I will likely work backwards through the decades eventually to see what eras were most conductive to the triple-triple.

Although the players strike of 1994-95 skewers the data a bit, I founding it interesting how the number of players rises from one and two in 1991-92, peaking in 2000 and 2001 when 13 and nine players reached it, then a drop to where from 2003-to-present saw three, five, three, five and two players attain the triple-triple. Of note, it seems to follow the introduction of the ‘steroid era’ in earnest to when it was at its peak only to drop after stronger testing and penalties were introduced. Of course a lot of other factors are in play as well such as a bunch of hitter-friendly ballparks came online, harder bats, weight training, tighter would baseballs, a shrinking strike zone etc. Further, we still don’t know the extent of steroid usage in MLB.

Anyway, here are the notables of the triple-triple club (1990-2007):

Barry Bonds (10 times with a four year run from 1995-1998).
Frank Thomas (9 times including 8 in a row including both strike-shortened years).
Jim Thome (8 times with five straight years from 1999-2003).
Jeff Bagwell (6 times with five straight years from 1996-2000).
Carlos Delgado (four times--consecutively from 2000-03).
Jason Giambi (four times--consecutively from 1999-02).
Edgar Martinez (three times--consecutively from 1995-97).
David Ortiz (three times consecutively).
Gary Sheffield (three times).
Mark McGwire (three times).
Bobby Abreu (three times).
Adam Dunn (three times).
Todd Helton (twice).
Lance Berkman (twice).
Jim Edmonds (twice).
Troy Glaus (twice).
Sammy Sosa (twice).

…and finally John Olerud, Chipper Jones, Albert Belle, Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Brian Giles, Rafael Palmeiro, Luis Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Jason Bay and Travis Hafner once. Here is the breakdown by year:

1991: F. Thomas
1992: F. Thomas, B. Bonds
1993: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, J. Olerud
1994: F. Thomas
1995: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, E. Martinez
1996: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, G. Sheffield, J. Bagwell, E. Martinez, J. Thome, M.            McGwire
1997: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, E. Martinez, J. Bagwell, J. Thome
1998: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, J. Bagwell, M. McGwire
1999: G. Sheffield, J. Bagwell, J. Thome, M. McGwire, C. Jones, J. Giambi, A. Belle,            B.Williams
2000: F. Thomas, B. Bonds, G. Sheffield, J. Bagwell, J. Thome, A. Rodriguez, J.             Giambi, C. Delgado, B. Giles, T. Glaus, T. Helton, R. Palmeiro, J. Edmonds
2001: B. Bonds, J. Bagwell, J. Thome, J. Giambi, C. Delgado, T. Glaus, B. Abreu, S.             Sosa, L. Gonzalez
2002: B. Bonds, J. Thome, J. Giambi, C. Delgado, Sammy Sosa, L. Berkman
2003: J. Thome, C. Delgado, T. Helton
2004: B. Bonds, J. Edmonds, B. Abreu, A. Dunn, L. Berkman
2005: D. Ortiz, B. Abreu A. Dunn
2006: D. Ortiz, J. Thome, Ryan Howard, J. Bay, T. Hafner
2007: D. Ortiz, A. Dunn

Finally, the career OPS+ of the 1991-2007 members of the triple-triple club:

Player OPS+
Barry Bonds 182
Frank Thomas 157
Jim Thome 150
Jeff Bagwell 149
Carlos Delgado 139
Jason Giambi 147
Edgar Martinez 147
David Ortiz 139
Gary Sheffield 143
Mark McGwire 162
Bobby Abreu 134
Adam Dunn 130
Todd Helton 143
Lance Berkman 146
Jim Edmonds 133
Troy Glaus 121
Sammy Sosa 128
John Olerud 128
Chipper Jones 143
Albert Belle 143
Bernie Williams 125
Alex Rodriguez 147
Brian Giles 139
Rafael Palmeiro 132
Luis Gonzalez 119
Ryan Howard 151
Jason Bay 130
Travis Hafner 148

The lowest total for three triple-triples is Dunn’s 130, the lowest for four is Delgado’s 139 and for those with six triple-triples is Bagwell’s 149.

Best Regards


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