Why do the Toronto Blue Jays hit so few triples?

Oh-Canada May 23, 2022

Here are some interesting statistics:

The Toronto Blue Jays have the fewest triples in baseball since 2015, have been in the bottom five in team triples each of the last three seasons, and this year were the last team in the majors to finally chalk up a triple which happened last week, 41 games into the regular season.  

The question is – why do the Blue Jays hit so few triples?

This is a fascinating abnormality.  The question is – what is it about the Toronto Blue Jays that has produced so few triples?

Here's an article that explains it, courtesy of FAN NATION

(Note: I've highlighted some passages that help to explain the mystery):

George Springer was yelling at the ball to get down, willing it to touch turf.

With a blooper destined for right field in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Mariners, Toronto's centerfielder flicked on the afterburners as the ball dropped and rolled past Stephen Souza Jr. in the outfield. Scoring all the runners on base, Springer rounded second on the bloop-shot, sliding into third with a narrow three-run triple.

"I was following [Santiago Espinal]," Springer said after the game. "Obviously the goal is to get him home, so once I saw him go I just went to draw the throw."

It was Toronto's first triple of the season and the Jays were the last team to record one in 2022. But this dearth of three-baggers is nothing new. The Toronto Blue Jays don't hit triples, and they haven't for a while.

Since 2015, the Jays have the fewest triples in baseball (95), almost one-third the amount of the leading Diamondbacks (281). The Jays have been in the bottom five in team triples each of the last three seasons and 22 individual players had more triples than the entire Toronto roster in 2017, a year the Jays had the fewest triples ever.

Toronto's lack of triples is not some sign of offensive ineptitude, they've been one of the best hitting teams during the triple-dry years. It's just a weird quirk and one that could be in part due to where they play.

Triples are inherently weird. The ball needs to get by a fielder, take a weird bounce, slide under a glove, or find a deep cavern in the ballpark. Rogers Centre isn't really weird, at all. The outfield wall is uniform and predictable, there are no odd corners to carom or cavernous holes to hide in. In Arizona's Chase Field, home to the best triples team in baseball the last few years, there are sharp corners in centerfield that are 413 feet from home plate. Rogers Centre has a rounded outfield wall and the furthest point is 400 feet from home.

But, even with its predictability, Rogers Centre isn't sucking up all the triples by itself. Toronto's home park is the 9th-worst stadium for triples per Baseball Savant's park factors in the last three years. So surely there's another explanation?

The obvious answer would be team speed, but just two of Toronto's regular 2022 hitters (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk) rank below league average in sprint speed. Per FanGraphs' all-encompassing base running stat, the Jays are the sixth-best squad in baseball when rounding the bases. The 2022 team isn't an anomaly either, as  Toronto ranked the fastest team in baseball in 2020, a year they came last in team triples.

It's probably not organizational philosophy either. Manager Charlie Montoyo preaches aggression and applauds taking the extra base. General Manager Ross Atkins also told the New York Times he was "not happy" about the team's lack of three-base hits back in 2018.

Sure, Springer has battled leg injuries of late, but in his final 173 games with Houston he knocked five triples. In the two seasons with Toronto? Two triples. Marcus Semien had seven triples during his last full season with the Athletics before joining Toronto last year. In 2021 he had two.

The home park seems like the biggest factor, but there's something unexplainable at work here. Like the Bermuda Triangle for triples, what's happening in Toronto is equal parts mysterious and fascinating.