Saturday, July 17, 2010
Bengie Molina and the cyclePosted by Jeff Sackmann
Yesterday, Bengie Molina hit for the cycle. Yep, you can pick your jaw up off the ground now.
The very idea of Molina hitting for a cycle is crazy enough, but it goes further. First, his home run was a grand slam. That's only the eighth time in baseball history a player has hit for a cycle including a grand slam. Second, he only got four at-bats—he came out for a pinch-runner after legging out his triple. Third, his three extra-base hits were nearly all of what the Rangers produced; a Nelson Cruz double was the fourth and only other XBH for Texas.
I wrote an article a few weeks back about the odds of a cycle. It certainly seems as if the odds of Molina getting a cycle are about as low as it gets. But as it turns out, they aren't quite that bad. (And now, the odds of Molina hitting for the cycle this year are 100%.)
In the most recent public run of CHONE hitter projections, Sean did just over 1500 players. I used the same process I described in my article to calculate the odds of the cycle for everybody. Ranking all the hitters CHONE projected by "cycle odds," Molina comes out 845th. Nothing to brag about, but not as bad as you'd expect for one of the slowest players in the game. Below him are guys like Ryan Garko, Edwin Encarnacion, Tony Gwynn, and Chipper Jones.
A player's chances of hitting for the cycle depend heavily on his likelihood of hitting a triple, but it isn't just that. Obviously, it helps to be a good hitter (you gotta get four hits!), and you need to have some power. That's why Gwynn ranks so low—he has a relatively good shot at getting the triple in any given game, but for him, the home run is the challenge. Molina isn't a great hitter, nor is he a monster power hitter. But he is reasonably good at everything relevant except for the triple.
Bengie's chances of a cycle in 150 games, given his current skill level, are about 0.42 percent. That's less than one-eighth the chance of Curtis Granderson. But hey, it's better than his brother Jose, who isn't projected to hit any triples. As a result, his chances of hitting for a cycle are a nice, round zero.
Jeff Sackmann is the creator of MinorLeagueSplits.com. With Kent Bonham, he founded CollegeSplits.com. Jeff and Kent blog about college baseball and the draft, and you can follow them on Twitter for bite-sized snacks of minor league and college stats. Jeff also has an email address.