Andrelton Simmons and the Case of the Walk-Off Triple

On Monday night, Andrelton Simmons beat the Rockies with a walk-off triple.

One inquiring Twitter user wanted to know, How’s that happen?

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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19 Responses to “Andrelton Simmons and the Case of the Walk-Off Triple”

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  1. Brian Jones says:

    “One inquiring twitter user,” that’s all I am to you Baumann?

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  2. harpago17 says:

    This felt way too informative for NotGraphs. I was fully expecting to see Andrelton Simmons’ head superimposed onto the cover of an old Hardy Boys book. Probably the one where they are in the cave with the flashlight.

    +26 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. gcm says:

    What is this piece of actual baseball analysis doing on notgraphs? If I’m reading something about walkoffs on NG, I expect there to be Billy Zane and some underwear being removed with one hand. For shame.

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  4. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Dioner Navarro is on this list despite having only 4 career triples.

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  5. olethros says:

    Wasn’t a walk-off triple impossible in base states other than runner on first prior to the rule change a decade or so ago?

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    • ElJosharino says:

      This is what I was thinking too. As I remember it the person who got the walkoff hit was given as many bases as the winning run had to go to score, which would have required the winning run to be on first.
      Though the bases could have also been empty, in a tie game, and the winning run scored on a triple + an error that allowed the batter to score.

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      • Homer says:

        Or the bases could have been loaded and the batting team down 2 or runners on first and second and the batting team down 1.

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  6. John says:

    It wasn’t a triple. It was a double, with third taken on the throw.

    I’d say it was hometown scoring, but even that doesn’t account for it. It was just completely incompetent scoring creating an historical anomaly.

    Here’s a still showing Tulowitzki receiving the throw from the outfield, and Andrelton’s position on the basepaths.

    If that hadn’t been the winning run, Andrelton would have been out by 60 feet at 3rd. That’s not a triple. That’s a double, with third taken on the throw.

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    • Bronnt says:

      That was my thought as well-but as a Braves fan, I can tell you that the home scorer at Turner Field is generous to the point of absurdity, and has been all season. This is hardly egregious by his/her normal standards.

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  7. 7 Unassisted says:

    Screw the walkoff triple, how about the 7-unassisted DP just now?

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  8. josh says:

    the walkoff triple was awarded to simmons because the rule states that the walkoff hitter will be awarded as many bases that the winning runner had to go in order to score the winning run. i read something recently about this exact topic, maybe on sb nation. i don’t remember.

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  9. SimonSays says:

    In college we had a bases-loaded, walk-off triple. I was doing the book and marked it as a double. At the end of the year it turned out he needed 1 triple for the school record, so went back and changed it.

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  10. cass says:

    Please alert Jeff Sullivan. He will make a FanGraphs post out of this with gifs and stills of every walk-off triple he can find video of. He will then assess the proper scoring of the play. There will also be lots of words. Lots and lots of words.

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  11. Jaybird says:

    getting home on an error after a triple is not a walk-off triple. There is a separate line-item for that.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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