If you ask what a cycle in baseball is, then it means you have a vast interest in baseball. In my case, the first time I saw a baseball cycle was during the 2015 Boston Red Sox vs. Atlanta Braves. Also, it was the first time a cycle was hit in Major League Baseball postseason game or MLB history. I WAS IN COMPLETE AWE when I saw Brock “The Brock Star” Holts 2B-B-HR-3B cycle in the 8th innings.
There is just something about seeing a batter hitting for successive bases, including a home run. Seeing something like that can and will change even the most staunch hater of baseball. I have indeed seen something like that happening one time. Someone I know took his friend to a baseball game since he thought basketball was the sport. By the end, after seeing a home run and some close calls, he knew baseball deserved to be noticed.
While being the complete opposite of a no-hitter cycle in baseball is just as hard, if not more challenging. Hitting for the cycle requires more than just the talent of a player. In many cases, luck is also involved. Any true baseball fan or player will tell you that even going for a cycle in baseball will involve luck since you won’t know when you might start the process.
In a conversation with a baseball colleague, he got off a single and triple and then thought about trying a double and home run. But getting that single and triple took more than half the same game.
I asked another baseball hitter friend if he started his at-bat with hitting for the cycle in mind. He said that no one he knew ever starts batting with hitting the cycle in mind; instead, it just happens.
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What is a Cycle in Baseball?
We are now at the crust of our topic for this article. Indeed many might be confused and are asking what is this cycle in baseball they keep talking about. I have come to deliver you the answer you seek for those with this reaction in mind. In the simplest of terms, a cycle in baseball is when a batter hits all four types of hits in the same game. These four types of hits are singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. A player can take make than four hits while attempting to hit for the cycle.
According to many, hitting for the cycle is one of the hardest things in Major League Baseball. Every major player in baseball still wants a Cycle hit.
Alongside a perfect game, grand slam, and four-run homer, a cycle is one of the most challenging feats to achieve in baseball. Since somewhere from 1880 to now, there have only been 330 plus cycles recorded.
Altogether there is a chance of way less than one percent of getting to hit a cycle in baseball. From the moment a player hits or goes to at-bat, he has at minimum nine innings to hit a single, double, triple, and home run in any particular order to record a cycle.
For the most part, all the people I talked with that bats have said that the order of hits means nothing. In the end, it’s all about getting all four of those hits. But getting those four hits is what differentiates pro baseball players from legend-worthy baseball players.
No. of Cycles in Baseball History
As I mentioned above, throughout baseball history, there have been only 330 plus cycles recorded. Of those 300 plus cycles, only a handful had the skill and luck to hit multiple cycles. There have been cases of players trying for years in between their cycles. In Major League history, there have been 33 people who got multiple “hits for the cycle.”
Therefore don’t be discouraged since even pro players wait forever!
Who made the First Cycle in Major League Baseball History?
Now we are getting into a murky part of our topic in this article. Over the years, many baseball fans and scholars argued with who hit the first cycle in baseball. For the most part, there is a sort of agreement that Charles “Curry” Foley might be the one who hit the first cycle in baseball. The date for this momentous occasion is on May 25, 1882. Surprisingly the cycle Curry made was one of the natural cycles meaning he was able to hit a single, double, triple, and home run in that order. The opposite of which is the reverse natural cycle.
One of the biggest arguments on Curry hitting the first cycle is that baseball hits or stats like cycles are somewhat spotty. Some have claimed players have hit cycles before, while others claim that Curry’s records’ hits aren’t exact. However, many haven’t accepted this statement as accurate for various reasons.
One of the best claims that I found that refutes the claim of Curry being the first baseball cycle hitter is one about another player.
In this claim, they state that George Hall of the Athletic Club of Philadelphia hit the first baseball cycle on June 14, 1876. Additionally, the declaration also includes the order of Hall’s cycle, which was either 1B-HR-2B-3B or 1B-HR-3B-2B.
Yet at that time, most newspapers were printing that Hall over five hits hit at least two triples, maybe even three. But it was the Philadelphia Times that published that Hall hit a double, thus getting a cycle.
On the contrary, John Thorn, the Official Historian of Major League Baseball, disagreed with Hall’s supposed cycle. Therefore this claim is still debated, so I go with Curry being the first batter for a cycle. While the first cycle was important, the final cycle isn’t as so.
Why is a Cycle so Difficult to Do?
Right of the bat, I want to let you know that hitting even four hits is difficult in baseball. But hitting four different, increasingly difficult shots like home runs is even more challenging. That is why the chances of hitting for the cycle are so tricky and rarely seen even at Major League Baseball. As you will remember, I stated that there is less than a 1 percent chance of seeing a cycle in a baseball match. The possibility of multiple hit for the cycle in the same season is even lower.
Let us go through the different hits one by one and examine each of them. For the most part, hitting either a single or a double isn’t that hard. Both the single and double are the most common of hits in baseball. Anyone who doesn’t yet know a single is when you get one base and double for two bases. As I said, hitting for one or two bases is easy, especially in recent years.
Triples & HR in Cycle
On the other hand, hitting a triple or home run is significantly more demanding. In current times hitting a home run has become easier than a triple. During the 2015 season, the percentage of triple was less than two percent, and it hasn’t increased. Until 1930 we saw more triples than home runs due to the field layout and players playing the same game. According to a research paper, the distribution of the hits from 1901 to 1929 was such that triple percentage was double that of home runs.
But now the percentage of home runs has, in some cases, increased by five times! The simple reason for low triples is because the field has changed. Any of the hits will be picked by an outfielder before a runner gets from home base to first base. Unless something happens, triples are rare.
What do you Need to Hit for the Cycle?
By now, you have heard me say that hitting for the cycle in baseball is hard. However, as rare as cycles hit are in baseball, it still does happen. Also, I have shared some stories from the national league and MLB history and explained the parts of a cycle. The stories and explanations should tell you why a cycle is so hard to hit. Let us now start reading up on what an athlete needs if they want to hit a baseball.
As is in most cases, we will primarily focus on the physical aspect of the athlete. This is since hitting is a physical act. Therefore, that should be our main task. Moreover, we will be splitting our attention into two fundamental sides of an athlete’s physical power and speed. Both of the mentioned characteristics play a vital role that enables a batter to hit.
First, we shall be talking and looking at the importance of the power of the batter. More specifically, how the strength or a balance of power helps with base hitting. Recently players are using all the tools they have access to build themselves up in a balanced manner. By generating more power, players are increasing their batting average while raking up the base hit count. While most will say that speed is what you need, we think it’s more like you need both. As baseball player hit for the cycle, they will need all the power they got.
Secondly comes the speed aspect of a player. As I said, many still think speed is where it’s at when it comes to baseball. While it is correct in some ways since running through bases is how you score in baseball. But without the proper kind of speed, i.e., exit speed, you won’t go anywhere. Another critical factor about speed is knowing when and how to run.
In particular, you will need to stretch a single to double or double to triple. Also, defensively, you will need to stop singles from becoming doubles or more. As you can see, speed isn’t all about running but knowing how to utilize speed better. Something like this is challenging to learn as an adult. Thus training for speed and learning better speed practice needs to be taught from an early age.
Some Tips for Hitting for the Cycle
As far as tips go on how player hit for the cycle, there isn’t much since it’s so rare. But what is there is plenty of information on how to hit better and throw further. Using that information will help make you a better and less specialized baseball player. Most of the coaches are looking for batters that are more balanced in terms of speed and power. So that is where most of your attention should be.
To become more balanced, you will need to practice drills for both battings and pitch in equal measure. At the same time, physically train yourself not to build muscle only but rather balance power with speed.
With these pieces of advice in mind, I will now give you some tips to the best of my ability. Unsurprisingly none of these tips will outright help you hit cycles but just help you hit better. But using all these, what you can do is increase your chance of hitting for the cycle.
As I said, all these tips are relatively simple, but the overall effect is increasing your gameplay. Paying attention to how you bat and run will help you improve your total baseball stats. And it will later make you more impressive to the coaches.
In the end, all I promise you is a way to become a better baseball batter. And hopefully, hit a cycle or two in your career. Nevertheless, here are some tips I have learned during my research in baseball cycles that may help you out.
Higher Bat Contact
Increase a batter’s batting average is a sound and simple tip, but hard to do so. It seems easy in words but hard to put into practice. From the beginning, even having a batting average of 0.275 is seen as something good by many. Therefore the better your batting skills are, the more hits you will get. Consequently, the higher your chances will be of getting home runs and doubles.
Surprisingly increasing your bat contact percentage isn’t all that hard to do, especially at a younger age. In the beginning, all a coach will look for is someone with enough power in their swing. Learning about batting etiquette is something that comes later and is more straightforward. Having enough power in your swing is something much harder and more challenging to increase.
When it comes to making contact, there are two things batter will need to keep in mind. Firstly making sure to hit the middle of the barrel is paramount since that is where much of the power will be. Suppose you want to hear that “POP” you need hit the ball in the middle of the barrel. Hitting above the barrel is just a recipe for disaster since it will sting badly. And the opposite, meaning hitting below the middle, won’t give you enough power.
Secondly, batters need to learn to recognize bad pitches quicker and with tremendous success. A higher batting average batters should hit only pitches they realize as good while letting the rest pass them. As a bonus, these will lead to fewer slumps for batters.
Greater Exit Speed
The job isn’t done after making contact since you still need to swing the bat and push the ball fly. After making solid contact, you need to maximize your hip movement for that extra swing speed. While making contact with the barrel’s middle is good, swing speed is how you make the ball fly.
With more incredible swing speed getting extra base hits will be easier and become more common for batters. In particular, making singles become doubles will be more accessible than ever, and home runs won’t be a dream.
Remember that a batter can have more time to run and get more bases with greater exit speed since the cycle needs to be completed in a particular order, so having more exit speed is essential.
Have More Discipline
In the eyes of many sportspeople, having discipline is chief in terms of becoming a pro. While having more speed with swings is good, it means nothing if you can’t hit. Batters need to be able to make it count when at-bat. Batters need to keep a close eye on the pitcher and make good decisions even off the field.
“I can’t do much about my height, but I can do a lot of things in strength and speed and work on that. I’m going to try to do that the best I can to make me a better ballplayer.”– Andrew Benintendi
Batters have to be aggressive early on with fastballs since those are the ones that they can hit. Being too safe with swings will give pitchers time to psych you out with varying pitches. However, it doesn’t mean batters should take a swing with anything that comes their way. Instead, batters should make the pitcher throw their best fastballs so that they can make good contact.
More Movement Speed
As it has been said, again and again, I don’t wish to repeat myself too many times. But it will be worthwhile to remember that speed is what makes baseball indeed baseball. Besides, some might have said this, but you can stretch a single base into double and a double in triple base with greater running or movement speed.
At the same time, remember that running speed won’t help if you ignore the other factors. One of those “other factors” is making bat contact, without which running for a base is simply impossible.
Without solid bat contact, it will be hard to make the ball go where you want it to after bat contact comes to the swing speed, which is required for making the ball fly. Thus you see all things must happen in sequence to become a better hitter and hit for a cycle in baseball.
Never pay too much attention to one thing; instead, see the bigger picture. Doing so will help you know where you need to focus on improving yourself.
For those that are too stuck in their ways, this piece of advice may be tough to swallow. But you need to be able to enjoy yourself if you want to become a fantastic baseball player. Too many coaches and parents try to make their players too competitive or rigid to enjoy the sport. When it comes to your hobby or future career, you should be able to enjoy yourself.
If you must know, success will never come to you if you aren’t patient. Be calm and work yourself in different areas and learn all that you can.
- Christian Yelich is the only player to hit multiple career cycles or “hit for the cycle” on the same team in the same season, it was two cycles.
- George Brett had to wait 11 years in between his multiple cycles.
- In October 8, 2018 playoff history was made with a Cycle.
- Adrián Beltré hit three cycles all in the same ballpark.
Here is where I get off since I think I did my part. I hope that you have learned all you need to about cycle in baseball. I have said everything from what cycle is to what you need to know to hit them. As a final note, I have to say seeing a cycle is more interesting than even a grand slam.
Now all that is left for you to learn from this article and take a shot yourself to hit a cycle in baseball.