Hitting for the cycle

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Curry Foley was the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit 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.[1] Collecting the hits in that order is known as a "natural cycle".[2] Cycles are rare in Major League Baseball (MLB), and have occurred only 304 times since the first by Curry Foley in 1882.[3] The cycle is about as uncommon as a no-hitter (282 occurrences in MLB history);[4][5] it has been called "one of the rarest"[6] and "most difficult feats"[7] 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 2.5 cycles in a 162-game season with 30 teams.[8]

In other baseball leagues, the cycle is achieved less frequently. Through September 4, 2008, 62 players in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the top-level baseball organization in Japan, have hit for the cycle,[9][10] the most recent being Michihiro Ogasawara.[11] Two players have hit for the cycle on the same day once in NPB history; this has occurred twice in MLB history. One NPB player 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.[12]

Components[edit]

Michihiro Ogasawara is the most recent player in Nippon Professional Baseball history to hit for the cycle.

Single[edit]

Pursuant to Major League Baseball (MLB) Rule 6.09(a), "[the] batter becomes a runner when he hits a fair ball".[13] The single 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 or 3,180 home runs.[14] The MLB leader in singles is Pete Rose, who is also the league's all-time hit leader.[15] 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.[16] 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,[17] and two (Collins and Keeler) had fewer than 50,[18][19] lessening the probability of their completing the cycle.

Double[edit]

A double is a safe hit in which the batter reaches second base without being called out. 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.[20] Tris Speaker is the all-time leader in doubles in MLB history, with 792,[21] 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.[22]

Triple[edit]

Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb, the top two players in MLB history in triples

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.[23] Hitting a triple often comes under similar hit placement as a double, but may require impressive speed on the part of the runner.[24] 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.[25] The MLB all-time leader in triples is Sam Crawford, who completed the three-base hit 309 times in his career;[26] 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 Connor—have 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.[27]

Home run[edit]

A home run is a hit in which the player reaches home plate, and scores a run on the same play without being called out. Most often in modern baseball, this occurs when a player hits the ball over the outfield wall in fair territory. However, it can occur on a ball hit to the outfield with a fast runner when the ball does not leave the field of play; this is called an inside-the-park home run.[24] 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.[24] 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.[28][29] Bonds never hit for the cycle, nor have any of the top four players in home runs in MLB history;[30] the highest on the list to do so is Alex Rodriguez (fifth all-time; 647 home runs as of the end of the 2012 season),[31] who hit for the cycle on June 5, 1997.[3]

Accomplishments[edit]

Bobby Veach with arms akimbo
George Burns looking to the left of the image
Bobby Veach (left) and George Burns (right) hit for the cycle on the same day: September 17, 1920.

Major League Baseball[edit]

Multiple MLB cycles[edit]

The most cycles hit by a single player in Major League Baseball is three, accomplished by three players. John Reilly was the first to hit a third when he completed the cycle on August 6, 1890, after hitting his first two in a week (September 12 and 19, 1883) for the Cincinnati Reds. Bob Meusel became the second man to complete three cycles, playing for the New York Yankees; his first occurred on May 7, 1921, the next on July 3, 1922, and his final cycle on July 26, 1928. The third, Babe Herman, is the only three-cycle player to accomplish the feat for two different teams—the Brooklyn Robins (May 18 and July 24, 1931) and the Chicago Cubs (September 30, 1933).[3] Reilly (1884), Tip O'Neill (1887), Herman (1931), and Aaron Hill (2012) are the only players in MLB history who have hit for the cycle twice in one season.

The most cycles hit in a single major league season is eight.[3] Cycles have occurred on the same day twice in Major League Baseball 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.[32] 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]

Natural cycles in MLB[edit]

The natural cycle, in which the hits come in order from least total bases to most (single, double, triple, and home run), has been accomplished 13 times in MLB history. Bill Collins was the first to collect the hits in order on October 6, 1910. The natural cycle happened most commonly in the 1960s, occurring three times in a four-year span (Jim Hickman in 1963, Ken Boyer in 1964, and Billy Williams in 1966).[33] It also occurred three times in a seven-season timeframe from 2000 to 2006: José Valentín in 2000; Brad Wilkerson in 2003;[33] and Gary Matthews, Jr. in 2006.[34] The natural cycle has also been accomplished in reverse (home run, triple, double, single) by four players: Gee Walker (1937);[35] Jim Fregosi (1968; his second cycle);[36] Luke Scott (2006);[37] and Carlos Gómez (2008).[38]

Other related accomplishments[edit]

Ian Kinsler went 6-for-6 on the day of his cycle.

Eight players have hit a grand slam as the home run of their cycle; in the 21st century, that list has included Miguel Tejada, Jason Kubel, and Bengie Molina.[39] Five players have hit a walk-off home run to win the game as the final hit of their cycles: Boyer,[40] César Tovar,[41] George Brett,[42] Dwight Evans,[43] and Carlos González.[44] In 2009, Ian Kinsler had six hits in the game when he hit his cycle;[45] the accomplishment came on Jackie Robinson Day, honoring the African-American pioneer who had himself hit for the cycle on August 29, 1948.[3]

Four batters hit for the cycle in the same season in which they won the Triple Crown: Nap Lajoie (American League) in 1901; Jimmie Foxx (American League) and Chuck Klein (National League) in 1933; and Lou Gehrig (American League) in 1934.[3][46] Gehrig is the only player to complete the MLB Triple Crown in his cycle-hitting season, leading both the National and American Leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. When Foxx and Klein won in the same season, each was playing for a team in Philadelphia: Klein for the Phillies and Foxx for the Athletics.[46] Two players—John Olerud and Bob Watson—have hit for the cycle in both the National and American Leagues. Family pairs to hit for the cycle include father and son Gary and Daryle Ward, who accomplished the feat in 1980 and 2004, respectively; and grandfather and grandson Gus and David Bell, the elder of whom hit for the cycle in 1951, and the younger in 2004.[3]

Two players – Joe Cronin and Adrian Beltre – have hit for the cycle as a member of a club and as a member of that club's opponent (Cronin with the Washington Senators against the Boston Red Sox and later with the Red Sox; Beltre with the Seattle Mariners against the Texas Rangers and later with the Rangers). Both of Beltre's cycles came at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the only player to have two cycles at the same ballpark with different teams.

Nippon Professional Baseball[edit]

Multiple NPB cycles[edit]

Arihito Muramatsu is one of five players to hit a natural cycle in NPB.

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. Other than Rose, only two NPB players have hit multiple cycles: Fumio Fujimura with the Osaka Tigers and Hiromi Matsunaga with the Hankyu/Orix Braves, both with two. Fujimura is also the only player to have hit a cycle during both the single league era and the current dual league era.[47]

The 2003 NPB season saw the most cycles hit in a single season—five.[47] 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.[48] The next day, Shinjiro Hiyama became the third player to hit for the cycle in two days.[49] Conversely, the longest period of time between two players hitting for the cycle was 3 years, 5 months, and 9 days, a drought lasting from Alex Ochoa's cycle in 2004 to Julio Zuleta's in 2007.[47]

Natural cycles in NPB[edit]

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 only been accomplished in reverse by Ochoa (2004).[47]

Other related accomplishments[edit]

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.[50] 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.[51] 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.[48] Kosuke Fukudome is the only player to have hit a grand slam as the home run of the cycle.[52] Hiroshi Ohshita and Kazuhiko Kondo are the only two players have hit a walk-off home run to win the game as the final hit of their cycles.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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