On Monday night, Andrelton Simmons beat the Rockies with a walk-off triple.
One inquiring Twitter user wanted to know, How’s that happen?
— Brian Jones (@TheFantasyPronk) July 30, 2013
My immediate thought was that a walk-off triple would have a lot to do with base-out state, and by how many runs a team was trailing. In the case of Simmons’s triple, there were no outs with a runner, Dan Uggla, on first. If Uggla, who’s not a particularly fast runner, had been thrown out at the plate (there was a relay throw to home, but it wasn’t close: Uggla scored standing up), Simmons would have wanted to be in the best position possible for the next hitter to drive him in. Simmons was aware of that, maybe, and he was also aware that any throw would have to go to the plate, and he’s fast enough to take advantage of that and scoot along to third base. Taking that extra base didn’t matter in the end — the very nature of the walk-off triple is such that taking that final base never matters — but Simmons was showing the kind of awareness and hustle that’s a pleasure to see, even for fans who don’t obsess over things like hustling.
But. We still might want to know how common the walk-off triple is, and whether the context of Simmons’s game winner was typical for WOT.
Using the always amazing and often life-ruining Event Finder at Baseball-Reference, I easily generated the following, presumably comprehensive list of 141 instances since 1945 in which a game has ended on a triple:
By far the most common base-state for a walk-off triple was a runner on first — though that might have something to do with the fact that Runner On First is more common than other base-states (e.g. Bases Loaded). Within that, it was most common to have one out. So the most common base-out state for a WOT is not so different from the context of Simmons’s triple, and though it’s not entirely discernible given the data in the table, it’s not hard to imagine most of those events playing out similarly to how Simmons’s did.
Other choice tidbits:
- Only two walk-off triples have occurred (since 1945) with no runners on base, the more recent coming in 2004 when Jack Wilson tripled off of Julian Tavarez and scored on a throwing error by Albert Pujols.
- Seven players have hit two walk-off triples in their career: Al Kaline, Ed Ott, Floyd Robinson, Garth Iorg, Jack Clark, Red Schoendienst, and Sibby Sisti. No one player (since 1945) has hit more than two.
- Walk-off triples have become less common in the last twenty years or so:
Years WOT 1945-1954 22 1955-1964 24 1965-1974 24 1975-1984 19 1985-1994 25 1995-2004 12 2005-2013 15
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