Carl Crawford recorded his 100th career triple during last night’s game. That is a serious haul for a guy that just turned 29 but, from a historical perspective, 100 triples is pretty insignificant. Crawford is currently tied for 157th on the all-time triple list, 209 triples shy of the all-time leader, Sam Crawford (presumably no relation), and 91 triples short of a spot in the top ten.
Interestingly, the most recent player in the top ten is Paul Waner, who hung up his spikes in 1945. Heck, 7 of the players in the top 10 played in the 1800s! I guess that just proves your grandmother was right when she said that kids these days are lazy.
So, CC’s 100th triple begs the question, can he crack the all-time top 10 list? What about running down Sam? Here are a few things to consider:
- CC averages .019 triples per plate appearance for his career. That number is skewed by three monster seasons (he had 19, 15, and 16 triples in 2004, 2005, and 2006 respectively). If you disregard those three seasons as aberrations, Crawford has averaged 8.4 triples per season (and already has 8 this year). It seems unlikely that CC is going to return to the 15-19 range so, being generous, let’s assume he’ll average 9 triples per season until he hangs them up. That means he’ll need at least 10 more injury-free full seasons to crack the top 10 and 23.2 more summers to catch Sam Crawford.
- The numbers above obviously don’t factor in the natural diminution in skill caused by age. A factor particularly relevant to triples in light of the particular combination of power, speed, and hustle required. So, it looks pretty unlikely that Crawford will be chasing down ghosts that reside in Kevin Costner’s corn anytime soon.
- More importantly, the numbers are based on the assumption that no other variables will change. But, there is one giant variable that we all know is in play: Crawford’s home park. It hurts to admit but, the owner signing CC’s paychecks next summer won’t be named Stu. So, thanks to the handy-dandy “Park Factors” chart on ESPN.com, we can see that CC’s rumored suitors only hurt his chances at running down triples history. Replica Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, for example, are ranked 24th and 28th in the league in triple factors while the Trop is ranked 9th. (Oddly candid admission: I have no idea what a Park Factor is or how it is calculated. It looks like the right stat based on the short explanation in the chart).
- Come to think of it, someone tell CC about that. Re-sign with us and you could be the best triple-r since the turn of the century! When you tell him, make sure not to mention that his hometown park in Houston and the park closest to his current home in Arizona are better triple parks.
In the end, old number 13 is still a gem whether or not his career triple total ever scratches historical significance. Nothing starts a rally like a triple. Home runs are too final. They clear the bases and allow a pitcher to re-focus. Triples are different. Triples don’t just fire up the crowd and dugout, the runner on third also keeps the pressure on the pitcher forcing him to bear down and, usually, give up several more hits. Rallies are just more fun than home runs and CC has given us plenty of fun.