What is a Triple in Baseball? (Explained, Facts, and Other Information)


What is a triple?

A triple is a play where the hitter successfully hits the ball into fair play and reaches third base without the defense committing an error or attempting to put out another player (generally a runner from first base attempting to cross home plate).

Triples are abbreviated 3B, and may called by different names by announcers: three-bagger or three-base hit.

How many triples are there in a typical season?

The number of triples varies by season. In the most recent decade (2011-2019, omitting 2020 due to pandemic shortened season), teams combined for an average of 759 triples per season. That number is a bit misleading, though, since there were only 437 triples total in 2018 and 2019.

Table Showing Total Triples by Decade
Decade Average Per Season
1901-1910 1078
1911-1920 1175
1921-1930 1199
1931-1940 973
1941-1950 786
1951-1960 693
1961-1970 803
1971-1980 938
1981-1990 893
1991-2000 873
2001-2010 916
2011-2019 759

You can see the declining trend across 20th and 21st century, particularly in the 2018 and 2019 season:

Graph Showing All Triples by Season

Are triples rare?

Triples are the rarest hit type (single, double, triple, home run). For example, Major League Baseball hitters were almost eight times more likely to hit a home run than a triple during the 2018-2020 seasons.

Hit Type Number of Occurrences Percent (of Total Hit Types)
Single 61,340 22.25%
Double 19,618 4.48%
Triple 1,873 0.43%
Home Run 14,665 3.35%

This is why a triple is sometimes called the most exciting play in baseball.

Why were there more triples in the late 19th and early 20th century?

Over at Hardball Times, Miles WrayOpens in a new tab. provided some excellent reasons for why there may have been more triples in the early days of baseball:

  1. Outfield Dimensions: outfields could be over 450 feet deep, whereas the deepest dimension of any baseball stadium in 2021 is 420 feet
  2. Scouting Reports: teams better know where to position outfielders, and teams know which outfielders have good (and bad) arms
  3. Groundskeeping: baseball outfields look pristine in modern times, and that was not so much the case in the early days of baseball

Who are the leaders for triples (single-season, team, career)

Career Triples Leaders

Sam Crawford has the most triples ever in baseball. Check out the top 10 triples leaders:

Player # of Triples # of Plate Appearances
Sam Crawford 309 10594
Ty Cobb 295 13072
Honus Wagner 252 11739
Jake Beckley 243 10470
Roger Connor 233 8837
Tris Speaker 222 11988
Fred Clarke 220 9819
Dan Brouthers 205 7658
Joe Kelley 194 8120
Paul Waner 191 10762
Career Triples Leaders (1980-2020)

In more recent years, Willie Wilson has the most career triples, though he has just 43% (132 vs. 309) the number of triples as career leader Sam Crawford.

Player # of Triples # of Plate Appearances
Willie Wilson 132 7411
Brett Butler 131 9545
Jose Reyes 131 8240
Steve Finley 124 10460
Carl Crawford 123 7178
Lance Johnson 117 5800
Kenny Lofton 116 9235
Jimmy Rollins 115 10240
Tim Raines 113 10359
Johnny Damon 109 10917
Single-Season Triples Leaders (All-Time)

Owen Wilson owns the record for most triples in a season with 36. The next closer are Dave Orr and Heine Reitz. All players with at least 26 triples in a single season are listed below:

Player # of Triples Year
Owen Wilson 36 1912
Dave Orr 31 1886
Heinie Reitz 31 1894
Perry Werden 29 1893
Harry Davis 28 1897
Sam Thompson 28 1894
George Davis 27 1893
Jimmy Williams 27 1899
Sam Crawford 26 1914
Kiki Cuyler 26 1925
Shoeless Joe Jackson 26 1912
John Reilley 26 1890
George Treadway 26 1894
Single-Season Triples Leaders (1980-2020)

In more recent years (1980-2020), only five players have had at least 20 triples in a season. Curtis Granderson leads the way with 23.

Player # of Triples Year
Curtis Granderson 23 2007
Lance Johnson 21 1996
Willie Wilson 21 1985
Cristian Guzman 20 2000
Jimmy Rollins 20 2007
Carl Crawford 19 2004
Jose Reyes 19 2008
Juan Samuel 19 1984
Ryne Sandberg 19 1984
Willie McGree 18 1985
Career Leaders for Each Team
Team Player # of Triples
Arizona

All Players
Stephen Drew
David Peralta
Tony Womack
Steve Finley
Gerardo Parra
52
41
37
34
31
Braves

All Players
Rabbit Maranville
Henry Aaron
Bill Bruton
Eddie Mathews
Ray Powell
103
96
79
70
67
Orioles

All Players
George Sisler
Baby Doll Jacobson
Jack Tobin
Del Pratt
Ken Williams
103
96
79
70
67
Red Sox

All Players
Harry Hooper
Tris Speaker
Buck Freeman
Bobby Doerr
Larry Gardner
130
106
90
89
87
Cubs

All Players
Frank Schulte
Phil Cavarretta
Joe Tinker
Ernie Banks
Billy Williams
117
99
93
90
87
White Sox

All Players
Nellie Fox
Shano Collins
Luke Appling
Eddie Collins
Johnny Mostil
104
104
102
102
82
Reds

All Players
Edd Roush
Pete Rose
Vada Pinson
Curt Walker
Mike Mitchell
152
115
96
94
88
Indians

All Players
Earl Averill
Tris Speaker
Elmer Flick
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Jeff Heath
121
108
106
89
83
Rockies

All Players
Dexter Fowler
Neifi Perez
Charlie Blackmon
Larry Walker
Carlos Gonzalez
53
49
48
44
39
Tigers

All Players
Ty Cobb
Sam Crawford
Charlie Gehringer
Harry Heilmann
Bobby Veach
284
249
146
145
136
Astros

All Players
Jose Cruz
Joe Morgan
Roger Metzger
Terry Puhl
Craig Biggio
80
63
62
56
55
Royals

All Players
George Brett
Willie Wilson
Amos Otis
Hal McRae
Frank White
137
133
65
63
58
Angels

All Players
Jim Fregosi
Chone Figgins
Mike Trout
Erick Aybar
Garret Anderson
70
53
49
43
35
Dodgers

All Players
Zack Wheat
Willie Davis
Hi Myers
Jake Daubert
Duke Snider
171
110
97
87
82
Marlins

All Players
Luis Castillo
Juan Pierre
Adeiny Hechavarria
Hanley Ramirez
Dee Strange-Gordon
42
34
31
26
23
Brewers

All Players
Robin Yount
Paul Molitor
Ryan Braun
Charlie Moore
Jim Gantner
126
86
49
42
38
Twins

All Players
Sam Rice
Joe Judge
Goose Goslin
Buddy Myer
Mickey Vernon
183
157
125
113
108
Mets

All Players
Jose Reyes
Mookie Wilson
Bud Harrelson
Cleon Jones
Steve Henderson
113
62
45
33
31
Yankees

All Players
Lou Gehrig
Earle Combs
Joe DiMaggio
Wally Pipp
Tony Lazzeri
163
154
131
121
115
Athletics

All Players
Danny Murphy
Al Simmons
Home Run Baker
Eddie Collins
Harry Davis
102
98
88
85
82
Phillies

All Players
Sherry Magee
Jimmy Rollins
Richie Ashburn
Johnny Callison
Larry Bowa
127
111
97
84
81
Pirates

All Players
Honus Wagner
Paul Waner
Roberto Clemente
Pie Traynor
Max Carey
210
187
166
164
148
Padres

All Players
Tony Gwynn
Gene Richards
Will Venable
Dave Winfield
Garry Templeton
85
63
39
39
36
Giants

All Players
Willie Mays
Larry Doyle
Bill Terry
Ross Youngs
Travis Jackson
139
117
112
93
86
Mariners

All Players
Ichiro Suzuki
Harold Reynolds
Ken Griffey Jr.
Phil Bradley
Spike Owen
79
48
30
26
23
Cardinals

All Players
Stan Musial
Rogers Hornsby
Enos Slaughter
Lou Brock
Jim Bottomley
177
143
135
121
119
Rays

All Players
Carl Crawford
Kevin Kiermaier
Ben Zobrist
Randy Winn
Desmond Jennings
105
45
32
28
22
Rangers

All Players
Michael Young
Elvis Andrus
Ruben Sierra
Chuck Hinton
Ivan Rodriguez
55
48
44
30
28
Blue Jays

All Players
Tony Fernandez
Lloyd Moseby
Alfredo Griffin
Willie Upshaw
Alex Rios
72
60
50
42
36
Nationals

All Players
Tim Raines
Andre Dawson
Vladimir Guerrero
Tim Wallach
Warren Cromartie
82
67
34
31
30

Wesley Lyles

Wesley is a jack of all trades hobbyist. Though much of his spare time is spent playing board games (especially solo card games like Legendary), Hearthstone, Rocket League, and MLB The Show.e He also enjoys most sports, but pays way too much attention to baseball and football.

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