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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Monday, August 05, 2002
Where have the Triples Gone, Part II?
A triple inspection double header.
As we continue to examine the causes of the decline in triples, one possible explanation that keeps resurfacing is the change in ballparks over time. This is certainly a logical concept to look into, and fortunately, it’s one that we can attempt to control for.
To do that, this study will look at those ballparks that haven’t changed significantly over a certain period of time (which are hard to find, I might add). It also will require game-by-game data to determine how many triples were hit in these parks. It’s extremely important to acknowledge the amazing work of those who provide this data for free so we can do studies like this, and I’d like to do that here.
The triple data I had available ran from 1974-2001, so it was necessary to find stadiums whose dimensioned remained relatively unchanged over that time period. Restricting the data to years from 1975-2000, I was able to find six suitable parks: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Milwaukee County Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium, and Cinergy Field.
The following are the changes that have occurred at those parks:
None of the above parks have had dimensional changes during the time period in question, to my knowledge.
Here is the triple rate at those six parks only, from 1975-2000:
3B/AB 3B/(AB-HR-SO) 3B/(H-HR) 3B/H Years .0078 .0094 .0319 .0290 1975-1979 .0076 .0092 .0313 .0286 1980-1984 .0067 .0083 .0282 .0255 1985-1989 .0064 .0079 .0268 .0244 1990-1994 .0060 .0078 .0254 .0226 1995-2000
Clearly, there has been a large decline even in a relatively unchanging setting. Here is the rate of the league as a whole:
3B/AB 3B/(AB-HR-SO) 3B/(H-HR) 3B/H Years .0074 .0089 .0310 .0284 1975-1979 .0070 .0085 .0295 .0270 1980-1984 .0062 .0077 .0267 .0240 1985-1989 .0061 .0075 .0259 .0235 1990-1994 .0056 .0072 .0237 .0209 1995-2000
While the overall decline is very similar, it has been a little greater. Here is the percent change between the beginning and ending periods for the two datasets:
3B/AB 3B/(AB-HR-SO) 3B/(H-HR) 3B/H Parks -23.1% -17.0% -20.4% -22.1% Six parks only -24.3% -19.1% -23.5% -26.4% All parks
I can’t say with any certainty that the difference between the two numbers is the effect that changing ballparks have had, but I think it is clear that the majority of change over this time period has been from other factors. Two other causes that have been suggested are improved outfield defense and taking the extra base being less worth the risk.
While I think the latter has had an effect, I think the first has been much more important. The reason is that not only would I expect that outfield defense has improved, and that that would reduce the triple rate, but that it would also follow the pattern that it has followed—decrease at a diminishing rate.
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