Good things come in threes for Mets
Thanks to spacious Citi Field, team leads league in triples
NEW YORK -- Partially because Nationals center fielder Elijah Dukes wears his sunglasses above the brim of his cap, the Mets entered their game against the Marlins on Tuesday night as the game's foremost triple treat. They lead the big leagues in three-base hits, having produced them at a rate that would fill Lance Johnson with envy.
David Wright and Dan Murphy tripled Monday night in the Mets' 7-1 victory against the Marlins, bringing New York's overall total to eight in 19 games, and putting the team on a pace to produce 68 in 162 games -- 21 more than any Mets team has hit. Moreover, all eight triples have occurred in the past eight games, with only one -- a fly ball by Wright that Dukes misplayed -- the result of solar power.
To the casual observer, such a state of affairs might not seem out of the ordinary because of the presence of Jose Reyes, who has tripled 48 times in the past three seasons -- more than any other player in the big leagues. But truth be told, through Monday, Reyes was merely tied for the Mets' triple leadership -- with seven colleagues -- and was one of 78 players in the big leagues with one three base-hit. Ten others had more.
The reason for the spate of New York triples, it seems, is the size of the outfield at Citi Field. The Mets' new home has a decided triple effect. Through Monday, the home team had hit seven at Citi, opponents merely one. But -- and this is what makes it cool -- the Mets had hit more triples than home runs at Citi, 7-6. And cooler still is that they have had more players hit triples (eight) than any other team.
In addition to Reyes, Wright and Murphy, Carlos Beltran, Fernando Tatis, Luis Castillo, Omir Santos and even lumbering Carlos Delgado have had a hand in the eight, Castillo's being the only one hit elsewhere. There will be more to come, particularly when Reyes begins to churn.
The shortstop's triples often come in bunches. He hit three in three games in April last year, three in four in June, two in two games in July and four in eight games in August. Six of his 71 career triples, the most in franchise history, came in an eight-game sequence in 2005.
Reyes produced a personal high of 19 last season, a figure that made him the National League leader for the third time in four years, and, in retrospect, served as a trailer for what has happened in the first 10 games in the Mets' spacious new home.
"When I saw Citi Field, I thought 'Triple, triple, triple,'" Reyes said Tuesday. "Right-center field, four [hundred] fifteen feet. That's a place for triples for everyone, not just me. We can hit a lot of them."
With Reyes, Beltran, Wright and Castillo, Citi is bound to become for triples what Coors Field was for home runs in the pre-humidor days, what the late Forbes Field in Pittsburgh was for three-base hits in the first 70 years of the 20th century. A degree of baseball fickle may be at work at some point; witness that, through Monday, Minute Maid Park in Houston, not nearly the size of Citi, had allowed 13 triples. But Citi will get the reputation as being an incubator for what many regard as the game's most exciting play.
"I hope it does. That will mean we're having a good year," Reyes said. "We have a lot of guys who can hit them. We have guys who can run."
Is Ramon Castro, he of the thick legs, among them? Can he hit a triple? He did in the Minors in 1997, but not since. Can Citi Field help him?
"I don't know about that," Reyes said.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.