Ozuna One of Seven to Reach Triple Milestones

photo: Marcell Ozuna (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images)

By Bill Gilbert

Offensive production in the major leagues increased again in 2017 due to another spike in the home run rate.  Other offensive measures were also at the highest level in several years.

Year Runs/Game HR/Game BAVG OBA SLG OPS # Triple Milestones
1990 8.51 1.58 0.258 0.324 0.386 0.710 2
1991 8.62 1.61 0.255 0.323 0.384 0.707 3
1992 8.23 1.44 0.256 0.322 0.377 0.699 2
1993 9.20 1.78 0.266 0.332 0.404 0.736 5
1994 9.85 2.07 0.270 0.339 0.424 0.763 3
1995 9.69 2.02 0.267 0.338 0.417 0.755 8
1996 10.07 2.19 0.270 0.340 0.427 0.767 21
1997 9.53 2.05 0.267 0.337 0.419 0.756 7
1998 9.58 2.08 0.266 0.335 0.420 0.755 14
1999 10.17 2.28 0.271 0.345 0.434 0.779 19
2000 10.28 2.34 0.271 0.345 0.437 0.782 26
2001 9.55 2.25 0.264 0.332 0.427 0.759 21
2002 9.24 2.09 0.261 0.331 0.417 0.748 12
2003 9.46 2.14 0.264 0.332 0.422 0.754 8
2004 9.63 2.25 0.266 0.335 0.428 0.763 12
2005 9.18 2.06 0.265 0.330 0.419 0.749 10
2006 9.72 2.22 0.269 0.336 0.432 0.768 13
2007 9.59 2.04 0.268 0.336 0.423 0.759 8
2008 9.30 2.01 0.264 0.333 0.417 0.750 7
2009 9.23 2.02 0.262 0.333 0.418 0.751 6
2010 8.77 1.90 0.257 0.325 0.403 0.728 6
2011 8.57 1.87 0.255 0.321 0.399 0.720 7
2012 8.64 2.03 0.255 0.319 0.405 0.724 4
2013 8.33 1.92 0.253 0.318 0.396 0.714 3
2014 8.13 1.73 0.251 0.314 0.386 0.700 2
2015 8.50 2.02 0.254 0.317 0.405 0.721 1
2016 8.96 2.23 0.255 0.322 0.417 0.739 4
2017 9.30 2.51 0.255 0.314 0.426 0.750 7

Despite the increase in home runs, only five players hit 40 or more compared to eight in 2016 and nine in 2015. The big increase in the last two years has come in players that hit 30 or more home runs. This level was reached by 33 players in 2017, 38 in 2016 but only 11 in 2015.

A useful indicator for tracking offense is the number of players who hit for both power and average by achieving the old-school milestones of a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in.  A record 26 players reached all three Triple Crown category milestones in 2000, but that figure has dropped significantly in recent years. Only one player achieved all three in 2015. This figure increased to 4 in 2016 and 7 in 2017, the highest number since 2011, reflecting the increase in offense. Of the 33 players with 30+ home runs, only eight batted over .300.  Maintaining a .300 batting average is the most difficult of the three milestones to reach.

The only player that made the .300-30-100 club in 2015, Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, fell short in 2016 and 2017.  The four players who made it in 2016, all in the American League, failed to repeat in 2017.

2016 2017
Player Times BAVG-HR-RBI BAVG-HR-RBI Comments
Miguel Cabrera 8 .316-38-108 .248-16- 60 Worst year by far.
David Ortiz 5 .315-38-127 DNP Went out on top in 2016.
Adrian Beltre 3 .300-32-104 .312-17- 71 Slowed by injuries.
Mookie Betts 1 .318-31-113 .264-24-102 Failed to reach 2016 heights.

Here are the seven players that made it in 2017.

Player Times BAVG-HR-RBI Comments
Joey Votto 2 .320-36-100 Barely made it.
Jose Abreu 2 .304-33-102 Made it in 2014 rookie year.
Charlie Blackmon 1 .331-37-104 Breakout year.
Marcell Ozuna 1 .312-37-124 Emerging star.
Nolan Arenado 1 .309-37-130 First year hitting .300.
J.D. Martinez 1 .303-45-104 Released by Astros in 2014.
Ryan Zimmerman 1 .303-36-108 Big comeback year.

Two players came close.

Player Times BAVG-HR-RBI Comments
Paul Goldschmidt 2 .297-36-120 Late slump hurt BAVG.
Jonathan Schoop 0 .293-32-105 Orioles best hitter in 2017.

The following list contains the names of players, active in 2017, who have had multiple .300-30-100 seasons in the past but have not done it in the last three years.  Many have been limited by injuries. Some are still productive players but not at the same level as in their peak years.  Since this list was started in 2004, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre are the only players that have come back with another triple milestone season.

Last
.300-30-100 .300-30-100
Player Seasons Season 2017 Comments
Albert Pujols 10 2010 .241-23-101 Seven straight years under .300.
Ryan Braun 3 2012 .268-17- 52 Appears to be declining.
Matt Holliday 2 2007 .231-19- 64 Former star now an average player.
David Wright 2 2008 DNP Spent season on disabled list.

29 of the 30 major league teams have had at least one triple milestone hitter since the year 2001. Kansas City has not had a triple milestone hitter since Jermaine Dye in 2000.

Only one minor league player recorded a triple milestone season in 2017.

Player Team (Level) Organization Age BAVG-HR-RBI
Christian Walker Reno (AAA) Arizona D’backs 26 .309-32-114
Arizona (NL) .250- 2-  2
Total .308-34-116

No college players achieved triple milestones in 2017.

Pitchers also strive for triple milestones – 20 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00. No pitchers won 20 games in 2017.  Two pitchers came close with 18 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00.

Pitcher Wins-SO-ERA Comments
Corey Kluber 18-265-2.25 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Clayton Kershaw 18-202-2.31 Missed time with injury.

Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

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