Joe Mauer remained red hot last night, going 4-for-5 with a homer and a double as the Twins extended their AL Central lead to five games, and afterward various reports about the game noted how the reigning MVP finished “a triple short of the cycle.”
That phrase appears constantly in game stories throughout every season and I’m guilty of using it plenty myself, so I’m certainly not picking on the writers who do the same. However, for some reason it finally occurred to me last night that perhaps “a triple short of the cycle” isn’t all that noteworthy.
Thanks to the amazing “Play Index” on Baseball-Reference.com, I looked up how many times this season a hitter has been “a triple short of the cycle” and the answer is … 172. Seriously. Mauer has done it three times all by himself, and he’s not even the leader. Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez have done it four times apiece. Hitting for the cycle is almost as rare as throwing a no-hitter, but coming up “a triple short of the cycle” happens almost 10 times a week.
Or, put another way: This season a hitter has finished “a triple short of the cycle” 172 times and there have been a grand total of 644 triples hit by all 30 teams. Given that, maybe we’ll start to see some game stories about how someone was “a single, double, and homer” short of the cycle when they hit a triple.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.