baltimoresun.com

« Which facet of the Orioles' 2009 performance bothers you the most? | Main | Who is baseball's best manager? »

The baseball cycle: Cool feat or meaningless stat?

Hey all,

I just saw Felix Pie hit for the cycle Friday night.

Pretty cool accomplishment, no matter how random it may be.

It really is one of those strange statistical things that baseball fans like. Or at least we writers think you do.

How rare is a cycle?

Pretty rare. Pie’s was just the fourth in Orioles’ history and the 290th of all time. In comparison there have been 282 no-hitters

Although not super rare.

Pie’s is the seventh this season, and second at an Orioles’ game – Texas Rangers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler did it against the Orioles in Texas earlier this year.

And it’s the second by an Oriole in little more than two years (Aubrey Huff did it on June 29, 2007) after happening just twice (Cal Ripken Jr. on May 6, 1984) and Brooks Robinson (June 15, 1960) in the franchise’s first 53 seasons.

Weird.

Anyway, I want to know if you think the cycle is a cool bit of baseball history or just some bizarre baseball statistical anomaly that helps sportswriters get through the dog days of August.

Daily Think Special: The cycle: Cool feat or meaningless stat?


Comments

HURAHH!!
One brief shining monent!
The zeros will score 16 runs and strand 100 base runners over the next 10 games!

I hit for the cycle in a game once. Yes, it was slow-pitch softball, but it still counts. Especially if it gets me a free draft on Pie Cycle Night.

It's cool, way cool. Ummm..... how old does it make me to say that? The numbers you gave illustrate that. Sure, a journeyman player can hit for the cycle, same as a pedestrian pitcher can catch lightning in a bottle for one game and pitch a no-hitter. But it gets everyone on the team energized. And when a team is in the midst of their umpteenth losing season in a row, you take the cool moments where you can find them.

Granted, it helps that it comes in a win rather than a loss. I'd say most of them do, but it's still possible to have a pitching staff give up more runs than the cycle-hitter's team scores. So yeah, it's fun. Would have been even more wild if Izzy had gotten a HR in his final AB. Now THAT would have been up in the perfect game category of rare, two players completing the cycle in consecutive at bats.

The thing I've always wondered about the cycle --- that makes me think it's ultimately just an arbitrary stat, however cool --- is how everyone would react if a player "missed" out on the cycle because he actually had a better day at the plate than if he'd "only" hit for the cycle.

For example, supposed a guy has already got the home run, double, and triple, and he comes to the plate needing the single to complete the cycle. If he gets the cycle, everyone will remember his accomplishment forever, and sportswriters will dutifully trot it out every time someone else hits for the cycle.

But suppose the batter drives the ball down the line and hustles to second for a double? Or suppose he blasts another home run? He's had a better day at the plate, but nobody will ever talk about it because nobody's come up with a cool name for it.

and how about this --- has a batter ever STOPPED at first to complete the cycle on a ball hit into the gap?

It is a cool stat more than anything. If Felix had ripped that seventh inning fastball into the seats, his line would have been 4-5, a single, double and two homeruns. Better statistically but in this instant gratification world, not memorable. How many times throughout a season does a guy come up to the plate needing a triple for the cycle? Or a single or like Izturis, a homer?
What makes it so memorable is that it is so rare, 290 times in a hundred years. Just to get four hits is hard enough, but to get one of each....It is a great night for anyone.

What do they call it when a batter hits a solo, a two run, a three run, and a grand slam in the same game??? What should it be called??? Has it ever happened??? I think not.

Would have been nice if he did this in a close game rather than a blowout.Most of the baseball media is ho humming this,I guess because it's a 4th OF on the last place O's.For Pie huggers it's a big shot in the arm.

I am very happy for Pie. I'm not saying he has turned the corner or anything like that, but clearly the guy is improving from earlier in the year. I've been saying/hoping all along that O's wouldn't give up on him. He is young, fast, is improving in multiple areas, and I think/hope will add tremendous OF depth for the years to come. Best thing I've noticed about Pie is that he really plays with a lot of enthusiasm and seems to liven things up around the clubhouse. Guys like this- especially in recent years of O's teams- are special to have around.

"Cool feat," but for us O's fans, well I can only speak for me, it brought a big smile to my face. The kid plays with a lot of enthusiasm and hustle and I hope it rubs off on some of the other players and he can keep it going.

Cool.

Also, you can really see that Pie has settled in a lot. He is hitting something like .315 or so since the end of May if I am not mistaken.

I think the combination of not having to play everyday with the pressure of competition has gotten Pie in the right place.

It will be great if this continues and we have 4 good/great outfields for a long time. Or, can you say trade bait for a good pitcher when we are in contention?

It's both entertainingly cool and ultimately meaningless. Am I indecisive? Well, yes and no....

In the early 20th century, home runs were rare. In the early 21st century, triples are rare. For one player to put on a display of running with speed plus hitting for power and average in one game is fun to watch. Sure, a lot of luck is involved. But some hustle and a flare for the dramatic are involved too. Theoretically, anybody could do it -- but few ever do. Hitting for the cycle won't get you into the hall or fame or win the pennant for your team, but for one night it's a reason to celebrate. It's like the birth of an albino tiger or hitting the lottery -- a statistcial rarity totally due to chance, but something everyone hopes for.

As much as this statistical accomplishment is contingent on a number of factors which are beyond the batter's control, it still constitutes a player getting at least 4 hits and producing at least 1 run in a single game. A player can accomplish the same without hitting for the cycle but no manager will ever complain about a player giving him at least 4 hits and at least 1 run in any game.

Cool feat. Witnessed two cycles in person 1) Cal's cycle against the Rangers at the old Arlington Stadium
2) Bob Watson against the O's at Memorial Stadium.

The cycle is surely rare, but a meaningless anomoly. Can't you see a batter who hits a second homerun in a game heading for the dugout after touching third base, credited only with a triple, just so he can complete a cycle? Or failing to pass first base on a bonafide double, because he needs a single? Real performance credit goes to a batter with three homers and a double.


just to cThat's how

Jeff Frye hit for cycle for Blue Jays and needed a single for his last at bat. He hit one in the gap and stopped at 1st. His coach actually stopped him too.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

ADVERTISEMENT

Most Recent Comments
The Burning Question
ADVERTISEMENT

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Baltimore Sun blog updates

 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected