Monday, April 27, 2009

We're going to cycle like it's 1885 or maybe 2008

I think hitting for the cycle is a cool thing. So much so that I actually track them and stuff. I hope to do more with this in the future (you know, with all my free time) but we shall see.

Hitting for the cycle in baseball, for those of you who don't know, is when a player hits for a single, double, triple and home run all in the same game. Part of the appeal of the cycle to me is the triple. Next to the stolen base, the triple is probably my favorite play in baseball. I like speed.

The cycle is actually about as rare in occurrence as a no-hitter. While I have yet to witness a no-hitter in person, I did get to see Matt Luke hit for the cycle when he played for Greensboro.

I'm writing about the cycle today because it's been happening quite a bit lately and there was some misreporting in the media outlets about the history of the event. Thought I'd try and clear some things up.

We've had three players hit for the cycle this season already: Orlando Hudson of the Dodgers, Ian Kinsler of the Rangers and Jason Kubel of the Twins. Kinsler's was the most covered because 1. He's Ian Kinsler and a bit of a star already and 2. He had six hits in the game for which he hit for the cycle.

For your edification, ten facts about the cycles so far:

1. Kinsler was far from being the first player to get six hits in a game in which he hit for the cycle although he was initially reported as being a rarity by many media outlets. Rondell White was the most recent player to get six hits in a cycle game (1995). Then we had Bobby Veach (1920), Sam Thompson (1894), Farmer Weaver (1890), John Reilly (1890, six days before Weaver), Larry Twitchell (1889), Dave Orr (1887) and Henry Larkin (1885). People seem to forget that there was professional baseball in the 1800's. Don't you make the same mistake kids. It's a bad habit to get into.

2. Kinsler was the first native of Arizona to hit for the cycle. Kubel was actually the second player born in South Dakota to hit for the cycle. Mark Ellis (2007) was the first.

3. Having the third cycle of a season happen in April is a first. Previously, the earliest a third cycle had been achieved in a season was May 7 in 1887. These are the only two seasons where the cycle had been achieved three times before June 1.

4. Three cycles in a five day span is not unique either. The above mentioned Dave Orr hit for the cycle twice. In addition to his six hit game in 1887, he hit for the cycle on June 12, 1885. George Wood hit for the cycle the next day and three days later Henry Larkin had his six hit cycle. You don't even have to go that far back. Last season Cristian Guzman cycled on August 28. Four days later Stephen Drew and Adrian Beltre both hit for the cycle.

5. Hudson's cycle was the first ever by a Dodger at Dodger Stadium.

6. Even though we're off to a good start this season, we're still a long way away from the record for most cycles in a season. In 1933, eight players hit for the cycle.

All for now. Hopefully I'll have some news on cycle research in the future.

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