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Luke Scott and the Return of the Power Triple

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Who don't love a triple?

Who don't love a triple in back-to-back-to-back games?

A Compleat List of
Astros To Have Tripled in Three Straight Games
Year Player Dates 3B On Year
1969 Norm Miller 5/20, 5/21 and 5/22 4
1977 Cesar Cedeño 9/11, 9/12 and 9/13 8
1997 Ricky Gutierrez 9/9,   9/10 and 9/12 4
2006 Luke Scott 9/18, 9/19 and 9/20 6

Funny who's in this small club Luke has now joined--and funny who's not.

Norm Miller was a young left-handed hitting outfielder for the team in the late '60's and early 70's who hit 22 homers with the Astros and who was fast enough for the outfield but not fleet enough for center. And Gutierrez was a right-handed hitting shortstop with the power stroke you'd expect from same.

Unlike Luke (who has homers in two of his past three games as well), and Cedeño (who hit three homers to boot during his triples mini-streak), neither Miller nor Gutierrez had an extra base hit beyond the requisite triple during their three games in question. And you can see that they each came up with one additional triple all year to the ones they garnered during their little streak.

On the other hand, Astrotriple machines like Roger Metzger and Steve Finley and Joe Morgan never did manage to put three games with a three-bagger together in succession.

The disparity, of course, is because the whole exercise is an example of the small sample size. Triple-hitting is definitely a talent, and if you doubt, just ask Metzger, who hit .229 as an Astro, but had a higher percentage of his hits fall for triples than anyone in team history.

But three games is so short, and the triple is so rare even for those with the knack, that some who whom you might have thought would have been included were not, and vice versa.

Cedeño almost intuitively seems to belong, while Miller and Gutierrez just as intuitively seem not to.

But what about Luke?

I mean, he plays the outfield, but he ain't no Willy T. What's up with that?

You will hear it said that going back, the triple was not a speed statistic, but rather a power one. Chief Wilson--who holds the all-time record with 36 triples in a season, and once had a triple in *five* straight games--played his games during the deadball era and at Forbes Field, when it was 460 feet to left center. In his record year of 1912, Chief hit 24 of his triples at Forbes Field, then added two more at Chicago's West Side Grounds, where it was an almost unfathomable 560 feet to centerfield.

The Astrodome in 1977 was at it's very largest: 406 to center, 390 in the alleys and 340 down the lines. Seriously. It was never bigger. And it'd be unfair to Cedeño's nearly unique blend of talents to minimze the power he would have needed to triple to the gap in the Dome circa 1977.

But Luke Scott and Minute Maid Park are bringing back a taste of that Chief Wilson era, methinks.

Scott first served notice of a pronounced power tendency to center back on September 3, 2005. In the second inning of a loss at home to Carpenter and St. Louis, Scott doubled over the head of a shocked Jim Edmonds. It was perhaps the first time in the major leagues that Scott had gotten full extension on a ball after making solid contact, but he's done it many times this year. He takes the textbook swing, the ball just rockets off his bat and there's more than a little tendency to Minute Maid's cavernous center field.

The ball is past the centerfielder in a flash, and then it lands, begins rolling up the hill, the crowd's doing the LUUUUUKE thing, and voila, another Luke Scott three-bagger. For those with the talent and the strength, Minute Maid can be the new home of the power triple, and Luke, it seems has both.

And mark my words; he will homer over the wall atop Tal's Hill, 435 feet away from home plate. His most natural power lies in that direction, and it's just a matter of time before the confluence of bad pitch and picture perfect swing occurs.

Luke's Triples in 2006
Four triples have come at MMP, the other two at Miller Park
Four have come to center, two have had extreme pull