David Peralta wears uniform #6 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Six is twice as many as three. Three is how many bases you get when you hit a triple, which Peralta has done more than any other batter in baseball in 2021.
The triple has been called the most exciting play in baseball. But it’s getting more rare every year. This season only 616 triples have been hit in MLB, or about one every 7 games played. Or put another way: you’ll see nine home runs for every one triple in baseball.
The History Of The Triple
When a batter hits a triple today, it’s sort of like seeing a rainbow: you know they are possible, but it’s a noteworthy event. But it hasn’t always been that way.
In 1921, 1,364 triples were hit in the AL and NL, or about twice as many as we see 100 years later. In fact, in 1921, there were more triples than home runs by a wide margin (1,364 to 933).
More triples were hit in the old days because batters employed a different strategy: most of them did not swing hard to try to put the baseball over the fence. They focused on making hard contact. Also, many ballparks in 1921 were much larger in the outfield than we see today. The large “pastures” combined with more flyballs and line drives in play led to many more triples.
A man named Sam Crawford is still the king of triples hitters, and he played his final MLB game in 1917. “Wahoo Sam” belted 309 triples in his career, leading the league six times. Four times he hit more than 20 triples, and he last led the league in the category when he was 35 years old. If Peralta leads the league this season, he will be the second-oldest man to do so (he’s 34).
Some players have been famous for triples, like 1960 Dodgers’ outfielder Willie Davis, who wore #3 and hit triples so much that people called him “3-Dog.” Or Lance Johnson of the White Sox who led the league in triples five out of six seasons from 1991-1996. Jose Reyes used his aggressive baserunning to lead the NL in three-baggers four times, the last time in 2011. But he’s the last true triples threat we’ve seen in baseball, seeing as hitters are swinging for the fences and less inclined to want to extend a double into a triple.
Prop Bets And The Triple
How rare are triples today? Peralta’s eight triples would be the lowest figure to ever lead the league (in a full season). One team, the Mariners, only has two more triples than Peralta has on his own. The triple really is an unusual play in baseball today.
That’s why sportsbooks probably feel comfortable with their prop bet odds on a batter hitting a triple. For example. in the game scheduled between the Braves and Diamondbacks for Thursday, September 23, BetMGM has Peralta at +750 to hit a home run. He’s listed at +1450 to hit a triple. Peralta has hit the same number of homers as he has triples (8).
All sportsbooks will offer a triples player prop, usually for every batter who regularly sees action. But some games only offer 6-8 batters for triples props bets when sports betting.
The action for prop bets on a batter hitting a triple is understandably low, but it underscores the rarity of the play. Since 2011, triples have fallen by 46 percent in the National League, and by 44 percent overall in MLB. In 1968, the NL had 359 triples when they had just 10 teams in the league. In ’21, with 15 teams they will finish with fewer triples than that.
Most Triples in MLB, 2017-2021