I remember listening to Tim Kurkjian one time on Baseball Tonight many years ago, and he told a story of a player who either needed only a double or single to get the fourth leg of the cycle in his upcoming at bat. The player got a base hit, reached the bag he needed to complete the cycle, but had an open opportunity to safely advance to the next base, but did not do so because that player wouldn’t have had the cycle. He said from then on, he was done with the cycle, and I believe that story influenced me to think about what the cycle was as well.
Michael Engel wrote about Mike Trout‘s most recent newsworthy offensive performance, which happened to be the cycle, and you can read about it here. Plenty of history, and plenty of good names behind the athletes that have scored a cycle for the record books, but I struggle to get on board with why a cycle is celebrated.
It appears to me that the feat of the cycle — the single, the double, the triple, and the home run — is celebrated because of the randomness of getting all four types of hits in box score being attained by the player. This is not to say that getting four hits at the major league level isn’t difficult. It is, and I mean, if anything should be celebrated about Mike Trout’s cycle it should be his 80 speed (“elite” speed in scouting terms) in getting his single and triple, and then taking this pitch out of the park just right of center field:
Looking at Trout’s face, it makes me think even he’s impressed with himself there.
I believe Trout’s night was impressive because he had four hits and ten total bases (in addition to the other qualities he exhibited that I mentioned). That’s doing work for your team. Hitting for the cycle is cool, but I believe it’s been hyped too much over the years. It makes me wonder how much people are talking about Jose Bautista‘s four hit night yesterday where he had ten total bases as well, but in the form of two homers and two singles. I can understand why you might be impressed more with Trout’s showing of speed, but I believe I’m just as impressed (maybe even a little more) with the night Joey Bats had.
I don’t expect the masses to fire up the blogs less when a cycle happens, but I hope they fire it up more when a hitter has a big night that doesn’t involve the cycle, because those should be celebrated, too.