Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hitting for the cycle

  1. Jul 7, 2012 #1
    In baseball there's something called "the cycle". It means hitting a single, a double, a triple and a home run in one game.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mets-hairston-hits-cycle-034749797--mlb.html [Broken]

    If I had my way, any sportswriter or announcer who talked about "the cycle" would be ostracized and sent to cover Little League on the North Slope of Alaska. It should be banned from every record book and any book that uses the word 'cycle' in a baseball related context should be burned.

    Think about it. If you hit a home run, a triple and a double and are coming to bat for probably for the last time in the game, and you could easily reach second base on a hit to the outfield, would you stop at first base just so you could hit for the "cycle'? It's absurd. Why celebrate or even recognize something that could represent less than maximal performance?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2012 #2
    But that's assuming you even hit the HR, 3b, 2b first before the 1b. Many times cycles don't happen in order. It's also not as "easy" to hit a double as you make it sound. In fact, hitting a triple is even harder than hitting a homerun for 99% of batters. Cycles take a lot of luck. Baseball players are professionals, if they come to bat after already hitting a HR, 3b, and 2b and hit a deep ball, they'll likely run out a 2b if they can and not even think about the cycle unless they're specifically coached not to run it out.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Jul 7, 2012 #3
    True, but it's still something that just happens, and IMO the player should be recognized for getting (at least) four hits and 10 total bases but not be in any way encouraged to perform less than maximally.

    Yes, but inside the park home runs are even more rare. However, they are just recorded as home runs. I don't think any records of "leg" home runs are even kept. The fact that "cycles" are rare chance events doesn't make them noteworthy as such. "Leg" home runs almost always require a maximal effort on the part of the baserunner (except for "errors" that are not scored as such).
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  5. Jul 7, 2012 #4
    It could represent that, but I doubt many, if any, professional players would stop at first just for that little meaningless stat.

    Just like I doubt a player would recklessly steal home just to get the "most stolen bases in a game" record.

    I think "the cycle" is more an incidental "yay" record. If it happens it happens. But I don't think a player would get much congratulations if he hit the ball to the left field corner and stopped at first base just to get "the cycle."
  6. Jul 7, 2012 #5
    *chuckles* I suspect none of you have ever endured the pre-football (as in soccer) match talks/statistics.
  7. Jul 7, 2012 #6
    That's my point. If you look it up online, it's discussed as a "rare feat" and an "accomplishment".


    To the extent that it represents 4 hits, 10 total bases and a certain minimum of 1 run, it's an accomplishment. But for 10 total bases, you could have 2 home runs, and a double for 3 hits and a certain minimum of 2 runs. Even if you were out for 2 other at bats, it's still a potentially more productive day than hitting for the cycle, ignoring other events that may or may not occur. Runs, or the lack of them, are what win or lose games.

    Hitting for the cycle seems to be a media invention based solely on it's rarity. Hitting 3 or 4 home runs in a game, or driving in over 10 runs in game are real accomplishments as are pitching a no-hiitter or a perfect game.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  8. Jul 7, 2012 #7

    Chi Meson

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I think the rarity of this feat indicates that no one is really trying to achieve it. It's like, when it happens, it happens, and people go "oh, hey!"
  9. Jul 7, 2012 #8
    If you think the cycle, 20k games, or perfect games are rare, see how many examples you can find of a home run cycle game.
  10. Jul 7, 2012 #9
    Can you give me one instance in the history of all baseball where a player intentionally held back getting bases he could have safely reached for the sake of "the cycle?" Or are you just getting worked up over a hypothetical situation which has never occurred?
  11. Jul 7, 2012 #10
    I would hope it never happened, but I don't know how one would know for sure. In case you misunderstood the hyperbole in my first post, I'm just saying the news item I linked to is an example of confusing a chance event with a genuine athletic feat or accomplishment. I hope the players don't care. I'm saying it's the sportswriters, announcers and other media interests that generate this hype about "the cycle" and I think it should stop because it's nonsense IMO.

    Regarding the home run cycle mentioned above, it has never happened in (US)MLB. Sixteen players have hit four home runs in one game since 1876. This is a genuine athletic accomplishment. However, players have no control over how many men are on base when the they come to bat. Therefore the idea of a cycle of 0,1,2 and 3 men on base for each of 4 home runs in a game is more nonsense. It would be just a chance event that would not add to the player's accomplishment IMO.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  12. Jul 7, 2012 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Question: So if a batter hit a triple, a home run and two doubles, that would not be lauded as one for the books?
  13. Jul 8, 2012 #12
    What would you call it? It doesn't have a catchy name like "the cycle".
  14. Jul 8, 2012 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    No, I mean, is that considered in baseball circles as an impressive accomplishment?
  15. Jul 8, 2012 #14
    You're making my point. It's 11 total bases which is a very good one game performance, but it would not get the attention from the media that hitting for the cycle does. Over the course of a few months during the regular season, it probably happens at least once in MLB.There are a number of ways to get 11 or 12 total bases in one game. The record is held by Shawn Green of the LA Dodgers. He had 19 total bases when he hit 4 home runs plus other hits in a game in 2002.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  16. Jul 8, 2012 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    No I'm not. I'm trying to understand.
    OK, so a cycle is lauded as an accomplishment, but doing one better than that is not given the same amount of attention. That's what I wanted to know.

    I think that, if a player is more interested in getting a "cycle" than in doing the best in the game then that is a serious problem.

    Baseball is a game of statistics. The media have to do what they do.
  17. Jul 8, 2012 #16
    No they don't. There are a number of ways to get 10 total bases in a game, The cycle is just one of them. Another way is to hit five doubles. I don't know if that's ever been done in a 9 inning game and I don't care. I'm not going to bother looking it up, but it's the sort of thing that would intrigue the "cycle mentality". They might give it a name like the "2 by 5". If someone finally hit for a 2 by 5 the sports editors might splash headlines across the sports pages and interview the player. The player might say "I was trying to get the ball up for a dinger (home run) but it kept on hitting the wall. By my last at bat, I was kind of hoping it would hit the wall, and sure enough, it did."
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  18. Jul 8, 2012 #17
    I think the problem is that the term "cycle" even exists. If it didn't exist, that player may be mentioned simply as having had a "good game." If that single he got was instead a double, his game would have been better, but he wouldn't have hit a cycle, so he would have been recognized as just having had a "good game", just like if the term "cycle" didn't exist.

    Compare it to a "triple double" in basketball. If a player gets double digit points in three different categories, it's a triple double.
    For example 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists.
    If a player gets that, he'll be mentioned as having received a "triple double", and it would be noteworthy, although not as rare as a "cycle."
    But if that player gets 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists, it's not a triple double, but a much better game, yet not as noteworthy as a "triple double."
  19. Jul 8, 2012 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hitting for cycle isn't even all that rare. It's occurred 293 times - about the same amount of times as a pitcher throwing a no-hitter.

    Rarer is running for the cycle - getting thrown out at every base in the same game. Lou Piniella is the only player I ever heard of accomplishing that feat.

    (Strangely, I can't find anyone that actually lists every player to do that, but surely it can't be just one player.)

    Rarer still are sacrifice steals (probably because that isn't even an official statistic). The only player I know of to accomplish that was Frank Robinson. The play was set up when the Orioles had runners on second and third with one out (with Robinson being on second). The batter hit a sacrifice fly, with the runner on third scoring and Robinson advancing to third on the throw home - except the runner on third left early, before the outfielder actually caught the ball. Since time had been called before the third baseman got his team mates' attention, the team had to wait until play resumed (by the pitcher stepping on the rubber with the ball) to throw to third for the out. Except as soon as the pitcher stepped on the rubber, Robinson broke for home and the pitcher reacted to the attempted "steal" by throwing home. Robinson was out by about 10 feet, ending the inning and ending the opportunity for the other team to protest the runner leaving third early, since another play had already occurred (in fact, the other team didn't even realize what had happened until midway through the next inning, when their manager realized the run from the sac fly was still on the scoreboard).
  20. Jul 8, 2012 #19


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are quirky statistics all over the baseball media, I don't think the "cycle" is so bad. It's extremely rare, anyway. You ask me, the "save" is the most annoying statistic in baseball. It's a very poor measure of a closer's ability and sometimes it actually does impact coaching decisions for the last inning.
  21. Jul 8, 2012 #20


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Quirky? Most no-hitters thrown by a one-armed pitcher is a quirky statistic? (Jim Abbott)

    (Or how about most pathetic attempt to prevent a one-armed pitcher from throwing a no-hitter? Kenny Lofton tried to break up the no-hitter by bunting towards a one-armed pitcher - but wound up being thrown out!)

    (Baserunning statitistics are always so much more interesting than hitting/pitching statistics - except I guess bunting technically is hitting, but... )
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook