Power hitters don’t usually run very well. And speedsters aren’t prone to hitting home runs. So it would be reasonable to say that players who are among the league leaders in home runs don’t usually find their names near the top of the triples leader board. Of course, there have been some exceptions over the years.
Hall of Famer Stan Musial led the league in triples in 1948, 1949 and 1951. He hit 39, 36 and 32 homers in those years, respectively. More recently, in 2007, Jimmy Rollins led the league with 20 triples while hitting 30 homers to capture the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Only three players in the modern era of baseball (since 1900) have led their respective leagues in triples and homers in the same season. Those players are Willie Mays (13 triples, 51 homers in 1955), Mickey Mantle (11 triples, 37 homers, also in 1955) and Jim Rice (15 triples, 46 homers in 1978). All three are in the Hall of Fame.
As you can see, it’s quite rare for a player to be among the league leaders in both triples and home runs. Just nine players have finished in his league’s top ten in triples and homers over the past 20 years, as seen in the chart below.
Of the nine players in the last 20 years who have finished in the top ten in both three-base hits and homers, only Vladimir Guerrero accomplished the feat twice, doing so for the Expos in 1998 and 2000.
But notice that none of the nine players played for the Mets. That shouldn’t be surprising. After all, only 16 Mets have ever cracked the year-end top ten in triples. And of those 16 players, none of them hit as many as 20 homers. (Jose Reyes‘ 19 homers in 2006 are the most.) Obviously, that means no Met has ever finished in the top ten in both triples and homers in the same season.
That could all change this season. And it might be done by an unlikely candidate.
Marlon Byrd currently has five triples and 20 home runs. His five triples are good for a ninth place tie in the National League, while his 20 homers are tied for the eighth highest total in the Senior Circuit. Should Byrd finish in the top ten in the league in triples, he would be the first Met to hit 20 homers in a season in which he cracked the top ten in triples. In addition, should Byrd remain in the top ten in both triples and homers, he’d become the first Met ever to do so.
Marlon Freakin’ Byrd.
No one expected Marlon Byrd to do much for the Mets this year. He was supposed to be part of a rotating outfield who could perhaps hit well against left-handed pitching. But instead, he’s become the team leader in home runs, runs batted in, and slugging percentage. He also has a chance to be among the league leaders in both triples and homers. That’s something very few players can claim over the past 20 years. That’s something no Met has ever been able to claim. Until now. Maybe.
This has truly been a remarkable season for Marlon Byrd. And it also has a chance to be an historic one.