Hitting for the cycle

In baseball, hitting for the cycle is the accomplishment of one batter hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game. Collecting the hits in that order is known as a "natural cycle".[1] Cycles are rare in Major League Baseball (MLB), and have occurred only 321 times, starting with Curry Foley in 1882.[2][3] The most recent example was accomplished by Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers on August 29, 2018, against the Cincinnati Reds.[4] The Miami Marlins are the only current MLB franchise who have never had a player perform the feat.[5]

The cycle is about as uncommon as a no-hitter;[6][7] it has been called "one of the rarest"[8] and "most difficult feats"[9] in baseball. Based on 2009 offensive levels, the probability of an average MLB player hitting for a cycle against an average team in a game is approximately 0.00590%; this corresponds to about 212 cycles in a 162-game season with 30 teams.[10] The most cycles hit in a single major league season is eight, which occurred in both 1933 and 2009.[3]

In other baseball leagues, the cycle is achieved less frequently. Through July 2016, there have been 70 cycles hit in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB),[11] the top-level baseball organization in Japan, the most recent being by Yuki Yanagita on April 21, 2018.[12] One NPB player, Atsuya Furuta, has also hit for the cycle in an NPB All-Star game. No player has ever hit for the cycle in the MLB All-Star Game or the postseason.[13] Two players have hit for the cycle on the same day once in NPB history; this has occurred twice in MLB history. There have never been multiple cycles completed in a single MLB or NPB game; this is known to have occurred twice in Minor League Baseball — on April 11, 2018, by Gio Brusa and Jalen Miller of the Class A-Advanced San Jose Giants,[14] and on August 7, 2018, by Kevin Newman and Jacob Stallings of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.[15]

Components

Single

Pursuant to Major League Baseball (MLB) Rule 6.09(a), "[the] batter becomes a runner when he hits a fair ball".[16] The single—in which the batter reaches first base without being put out, and without the benefit of a fielding error—is the most common type of hit in baseball: for example, there were 25,838 singles hit during the 1988 MLB season, compared to 6,386 doubles, 840 triples, or 3,180 home runs.[17] The MLB leader in singles is Pete Rose, who is also the league's all-time hit leader.[18] The single-season leader in singles is Ichiro Suzuki, who broke Willie Keeler's 106-year-old record in 2004 by notching 225, 19 more than the previous record.[19] None of the top five players in singles (Rose, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, and Keeler) in MLB history have hit for the cycle;[3] of those five, only Rose had more than 150 home runs,[20] and two (Collins and Keeler), who both played during the dead-ball era, had fewer than 50,[21][22] lessening the probability of their completing the cycle.

Double

A double is a hit in which the batter reaches second base without being put out, and without the benefit of a fielding error. This scenario often occurs when a ball is hit into the gaps between the outfielders, or down the foul line on either side of the playing field.[23] Tris Speaker is the all-time leader in doubles in MLB history, with 792,[24] one of which was part of a cycle; Speaker accomplished the feat for the Boston Red Sox on June 9, 1912, against the St. Louis Browns.[3] Two of the other top five players in MLB history in doubles have hit for the cycle: Stan Musial (725 doubles; third all-time) completed the cycle on July 24, 1949; and Craig Biggio (668; fifth all-time) accomplished the feat on April 8, 2002.[3] The single-season MLB leader is Earl Webb, the left-handed outfielder who hit 67 in 1931.[25]

Triple

The triple, in which the batter reaches third base without being put out, and without the benefit of a fielding error, is often called the "hardest part of the cycle" to complete.[26] Hitting a triple often comes under similar hit placement as a double, but may require impressive speed on the part of the runner.[27] Because of this, it is rare to see a player with slower-than-average running speed complete the cycle, but it has happened, such as when catcher Bengie Molina hit for the cycle on July 16, 2010; Molina described himself as "the [slowest] guy in baseball" earlier that season.[28] The MLB all-time leader in triples is Sam Crawford, who completed the three-base hit 309 times in his career;[29] however, none of those triples was ever part of a cycle. Of the top five players in MLB history in triples, two – Honus Wagner and Roger Connorhave hit for the cycle: Connor in 1890 and Wagner in 1912.[3] The MLB single-season record holder for triples, Chief Wilson, hit for the cycle in 1910,[3] two years before his record-setting season in which he hit 36 triples.[30]

Home run

A home run is a hit in which the batter reaches home plate, scoring a run on the same play without being put out, and without the benefit of a fielding error. Most often in modern baseball, this occurs when the batter hits the ball over the outfield wall in fair territory. Home-run hitters are often likely to be larger, slower players due to their strength, and may not be fast enough to complete the triple.[27] The MLB single-season and all-time leader in home runs is Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs in the 2001 season and notched 762 in his 22-season career.[31][32] Bonds never hit for the cycle.[33] Of MLB leaders in career home runs, the highest ranking player with a cycle is Alex Rodriguez (fourth all-time; retired in 2016 with 696 home runs),[34] who hit for the cycle on June 5, 1997.[3] Home runs can also occur on a batted ball that does not leave the field of play; this is called an inside-the-park home run.[27] Inside-the-park home runs are rare, and no player has hit one as part of a cycle since 1943.[35]

Accomplishments

Major League Baseball

Multiple cycles

The most career cycles hit by an MLB player is three, accomplished by four players:[35]

MLB players with three cycles in their career
YearsPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
18831883 John ReillyCincinnati Red StockingsAmerican Association[36][37][38]
  1890Cincinnati RedsNational League
192119221928Bob MeuselNew York YankeesAmerican League[39][40][41]
19311931 Babe HermanBrooklyn RobinsNational League[42][43][44]
  1933Chicago Cubs
2008  Adrián BeltréSeattle MarinersAmerican League[45][46][47]
 20122015Texas Rangers

All of Beltré's cycles occurred in the same ballpark, Globe Life Park in Arlington. His third cycle on August 3, 2015, only took 5 innings; at the time, it was the fastest cycle since 1974.

Four players have hit for the cycle twice in one season:[35]

MLB players with two cycles in a season
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1883John ReillyCincinnati RedsAmerican Association[36][37]
1887Tip O'NeillSt. Louis Brown StockingsAmerican Association[48][49]
1931Babe HermanBrooklyn RobinsNational League[42][43]
2012Aaron HillArizona DiamondbacksNational League[50][51]

Cycles have occurred on the same day twice in MLB history; on September 17, 1920, hit by Bobby Veach of the Detroit Tigers and George Burns of the New York Giants, and again on September 1, 2008, when the Arizona Diamondbacks' Stephen Drew and the Seattle Mariners' Adrián Beltré each completed the four-hit group.[52] Conversely, the longest period of time between two players hitting for the cycle was 5 years, 1 month, and 10 days, a drought lasting from Bill Joyce's cycle in 1896 to Harry Davis' in 1901.[3]

Bobby Veach (left) and George Burns (right) hit for the cycle on the same day, September 17, 1920.

Natural cycles

The natural cycle, in which the hits come in order from fewest to most total bases (single, double, triple, home run), has been accomplished 14 times in MLB history:[35]

MLB players who have hit natural cycles
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1910Bill CollinsBoston DovesNational League[53]
1926Bob FothergillDetroit TigersAmerican League[54]
1932Tony LazzeriNew York YankeesAmerican League[55]
1939Charlie GehringerDetroit TigersAmerican League[56]
1943Leon CulbersonBoston Red SoxAmerican League[57]
1963Jim HickmanNew York MetsNational League[58]
1964Ken BoyerSt. Louis CardinalsNational League[59]
1966Billy WilliamsChicago CubsNational League[60]
1976Tim FoliMontreal ExposNational League[61]
1979Bob WatsonHouston AstrosNational League[62]
1996John MabrySt. Louis CardinalsNational League[63]
2000José ValentínChicago White SoxAmerican League[64]
2003Brad WilkersonMontreal ExposNational League[65]
2006Gary Matthews Jr.Texas RangersAmerican League[66]

Reverse cycles

The natural cycle has been accomplished in reverse (home run, triple, double, single)—also known as an "unnatural" cycle—ten times:[2]

MLB players who have hit reverse cycles
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1882Curry FoleyBuffalo BisonsNational League[67]
1887Bid McPheeCincinnati Red StockingsAmerican Association[68]
1904Sam MertesNew York GiantsNational League[69]
1937Gee WalkerDetroit TigersAmerican League[70][71]
1939Arky VaughanPittsburgh PiratesNational League[72]
1948Jackie RobinsonBrooklyn DodgersNational League[73][74]
1968Jim FregosiLos Angeles AngelsAmerican League[75][76]
2006Luke ScottHouston AstrosNational League[77][78]
2008Carlos GómezMinnesota TwinsAmerican League[79]
2016Rajai DavisCleveland IndiansAmerican League[80]

Nine players have hit a grand slam as part of their cycle:[35]

MLB players hitting a grand slam in their cycle
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1882Curry FoleyBuffalo BisonsNational League[81]
1901Nap LajoiePhiladelphia AthleticsAmerican League[82]
1928Bill TerryNew York GiantsNational League[83]
1932Tony LazzeriNew York YankeesAmerican League[84]
1933Jimmie FoxxPhiladelphia AthleticsAmerican League[85]
1993Jay BuhnerSeattle MarinersAmerican League[86]
2001Miguel TejadaOakland AthleticsAmerican League[87]
2009Jason KubelMinnesota TwinsAmerican League[88]
2010Bengie MolinaTexas RangersAmerican League[89]

Six players have had a walk-off home run as the final hit of their cycles:[35]

MLB players hitting a walk-off home run to complete their cycle
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1961Ken BoyerSt. Louis CardinalsNational League[90]
1972César TovarMinnesota TwinsAmerican League[91]
1979George BrettKansas City RoyalsAmerican League[92]
1984Dwight EvansBoston Red SoxAmerican League[93]
2010Carlos GonzálezColorado RockiesNational League[94]
2017Nolan ArenadoColorado RockiesNational League[95]

Ten players have collected six hits in the game in which they hit their cycle. Only three of these—by Larry Twitchell, Sam Thompson, and Ian Kinsler—were accomplished in a nine-inning game in the American League or National League.[96]

MLB players with six hits in their cycle game
YearPlayerTeamLeagueRef.
1883John ReillyCincinnati Red StockingsAmerican Association[36]
1885Dave OrrNew York MetropolitansAmerican Association[97]
1885Henry LarkinPhiladelphia AthleticsAmerican Association[98]
1889Larry TwitchellCleveland SpidersNational League[99]
1890Farmer WeaverLouisville ColonelsAmerican Association[100]
1894Sam ThompsonPhiladelphia PhilliesNational League[101]
1920Bobby VeachDetroit TigersAmerican League[102]
1995Rondell WhiteMontreal ExposNational League[103]
2009Ian KinslerTexas RangersAmerican League[104]
2018Christian YelichMilwaukee BrewersNational League[105]

indicates an extra-innings game (Yelich collected his six hits in the first nine innings of a 10-inning game.)

Kinsler's six-hit cycle came on Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the African-American pioneer who had hit for the cycle in 1948.[106]

The most recent player to hit for the cycle with an inside-the-park home run was Leon Culberson in 1943.[35][57]

Four batters hit for the cycle in the same season in which they won the Triple Crown; Nap Lajoie (AL, 1901), Jimmie Foxx (AL, 1933), Chuck Klein (NL, 1933), and Lou Gehrig (AL, 1934).[3][107] Gehrig is the only player to complete the MLB Triple Crown in his cycle-hitting season, leading both leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.

Three players have hit for the cycle in the same season in which they won a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award; Jimmie Foxx in 1933, Ted Williams in 1946, and Mickey Mantle in 1957.

Three players — John Olerud, Michael Cuddyer, and Bob Watson — have hit for the cycle in both the National League and American League.

Two family pairs have hit for the cycle; father and son Gary Ward (1980) and Daryle Ward (2004), and grandfather and grandson Gus Bell (1951) and David Bell (2004).[3]

Two players have hit cycles both for and against the same team; Joe Cronin against the Red Sox (1929) and for the Red Sox (1940), and Adrián Beltré against the Rangers (2008) and for the Rangers (2012, 2015).

Nippon Professional Baseball

Multiple cycles

During his eight seasons playing for the Yokohama BayStars, Bobby Rose hit for three cycles, the most of any Nippon Professional Baseball player. Each spaced two seasons apart, his first cycle occurred on May 2, 1995, the next on April 29, 1997, and his final cycle on June 30, 1999. Three NPB players have hit for the cycle twice; Fumio Fujimura (both with the Osaka Tigers), Hiromi Matsunaga (both with the Hankyu/Orix Braves), and Kosuke Fukudome (one with the Chunichi Dragons, and one with the Hanshin Tigers). Fujimura is also the only player to have hit a cycle during both the single league era and the current dual league era.[11]

The 2003 NPB season saw the most cycles hit in a single season—five.[11] That season also saw the only instance of cycles occurring on the same day: on July 1, hit by Atsunori Inaba of the Yakult Swallows and Arihito Muramatsu of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.[108] The next day, Shinjiro Hiyama became the third player to hit for the cycle in two days.[109] Conversely, the longest period of time between two players hitting for the cycle was 5 years, 11 months, and 30 days, a drought lasting from Michihiro Ogasawara's cycle in 2008 to Rainel Rosario's in 2014.[11]

Natural cycles

The natural cycle has been accomplished five times in NPB history. Fumio Fujimura's second cycle on May 25, 1950, was the first time a player collected the hits in order. On average, the natural cycle occurs approximately every 13 years. Other than Fujimura, the four players to hit for the natural cycle are Kazuhiko Kondo in 1961, Takahiro Tokutsu in 1976, Takanori Okamura in 1985, and Muramatsu in 2003. The natural cycle has been accomplished in reverse by Alex Ochoa (2004) and Rosario (2014).[11]

When Ochoa hit his cycle with the Chunichi Dragons on April 13, 2004, he became the only player to hit a cycle in both Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. Eight years earlier, Ochoa had accomplished the same feat on July 3, 1996, while playing for MLB's New York Mets.[110] Yakult Swallows catcher Atsuya Furuta is the only player to hit for the cycle in an NPB All-Star game, doing so in game 2 of the 1992 series.[111] Inaba is the only player to hit for the cycle in a rain-shortened game. After hitting a triple in the first inning and hitting a home run in the fourth, Inaba collected the other two necessary hits in a seven-run fifth inning when the order batted around.[108] Kosuke Fukudome is the only player to have hit a grand slam as the home run of the cycle.[112] Hiroshi Ohshita and Kazuhiko Kondo are the only two players to have hit a walk-off home run to win the game as the final hit of their cycles.

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