In the book “The Glory of Their Times” Sam Crawford said that Hans Wagner was a better player than Ty Cobb. Nice since I have Wagner 5th and Cobb 6th. He also says Cobb wasn’t the easiest to get along with, but the interview as printed doesn’t go into much detail. He does give Cobb a lot of credit. He indicated Cobb was one the smartest players he ever played with and that gave him a big edge in the field.
Sam is the all-time leader in triples. Sam hit 309 career triples and led the league in triples 6 times. He had double figures in triples 17 years in a row. He might have retired in his last year as he played only 61 games and didn’t hit any triples. However, the year before his only strong category is that he hit 13 triples. Sam had 20 or more triples in 5 seasons. He had only 14 more triples than teammate Ty Cobb who is second on the all-time list. That gives credence that their home park was good for hitting triples. Third all-time is Hans Wagner with only 252 triples. Both players enjoyed a home field advantage, Crawford a little more than Wagner.
The record has very little chance of being broken. The current player with the most triples is Dexter Fowler. He has 82 and is 262nd on the all-time triple list. He is 34 and over 200 triples behind. He didn’t have good hitting years in either 2019 or 2020. He has hit only one triple the last three seasons and hasn’t hit 10 triples in a season since 2012. Next on the list is Bret Gardner with 69 and he is 36-year-old. So, lets look for players under 30.
There are 9 players who are under 30 in the top 50 of the current players in triples. Let us take them one at a time.
5th Mike Trout age 28 with 48 triples. He is 261 triples behind Sam Crawford. He has never hit 10 triples in a year. He hasn’t hit 5 in a season the last four seasons. He will move up the active list as players retire and he is going to play a long time. Only by playing to 42 will he need less than 20 triples a year.
20th Billy Hamilton age 29 with 36 triples. Billy doesn’t have much power. He hit 11 triples in 2017. He has played less the last two seasons as he proved he can’t really hit major league pitching.
26th Nicholas Castellanos age 28 with 34 triples. He had 10 triples in 2017. His hitting of triples looks similar to Hamilton, but he is a baseball year younger. He is a better overall hitter, so will probably have more career triples than Hamilton, but I don’t see either even catching Dextar.
36th Ketel Marte age 26 with 29 triples. He is one of two 26-year olds in the top 50 of current players. Marte had a big improvement is power in 2018 as he went from 2 triples to 12. He played the most game, but all his power numbers went up. Then he took an even bigger jump in 2019 with 77 extra base hits for the season including 9 triples. Last year he was again a below average hitter, but it was a shortened season. Besides that he only had 1 triple, so he isn’t going to catch Crawford that was. Was 2019 a fluke? We will have a better answer to the question after 2021.
36th Trea Turner age 27 with 29 triples. Turner was in a three-way tie for first in 2020 with 4 triples. Remember this was a shortened season. He is a solid hitter but might have hit over his head in the shortened 2020 season. He will be interesting to watch what happens to him as he has played shortstop the last four seasons but had some troubles fielding in 2020.
40th Ender Inciarte age 29 with 28 triples. There are sure some interesting names with these 9 players. He is a centerfielder who is a below average hitter. He is also shown as an average fielding center fielder the last two years. He is on the verge of being a backup or no longer being a member of the team. He won’t be breaking any records.
44th Mookie Betts age 27 with 27 triples. He is one of the fun most players to watch these days as well as one of the best players. Mookie hit 8 triples as a 22-year-old and the most he has hit in the 5 seasons since is 5. He has done that 3 times but would have to that 56 more times and I can’t imagine even Mookie playing in his 80s.
44th Mallex Smith age 29 with 27 triples. He had a good season in 2018 when he led the league in triples. He is a non-roster invitee with the Mets. For some reason he had trouble fielding in center field with Seattle in 2019. Trying to make it as a backup.
50th Rougned Odor age 26 with 26 triples. He has good power for a second baseman but doesn’t hit for average. The last four years he drew more walks but hit .204, .253, .205 and .167 the last four years. Although the .167 was in a shortened season, it didn’t help him impress anybody when two of the three previous years he was barely above the Mendoza line. He also isn’t a very good base runner nor fielder. He still isn’t that old so he still might improve. However, he is getting closer and closer to 30.
I know one thing. I won’t see the career record for triples broken.