4 Potential Ways to Measure a Triple-Double in Baseball

Sports fans love to take an accomplishment in one sport and compare it to an accomplishment in another sport, but it’s not always an easy thing to compare. For example, there is a stat known as a “triple-double” in basketball that indicates a player had a great game. However, if you’re trying to compare a basketball triple-double to something in baseball, you’ll run into an issue on what exactly to compare it with. What is a triple-double in baseball?

In baseball, there is no official statistic for a “triple-double”. However, there are some statistics fans can look at which come close to basketball’s definition of a triple-double, like how many Total Bases (TB) a player recorded in one game, among a few others.

A right-handed hitter in a white uniform in the batter's box swinging at a pitch while the catcher reaches to catch the ball

Because a triple-double in basketball looks at how well one player performed in one game, this article will cover some stats fans can look at to judge how well one baseball player performed in one game. But first, let’s go over the definition of a triple-double in basketball so we know what we’re trying to compare.

Basketball’s Triple-Double Definition

Basketball players and fans know that when a player gets a triple-double, they had a great game. But what is a triple-double in basketball?

In basketball, a triple-double is defined as one player earning 10 or more stats in three out of five statistical categories – points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks. Earning a triple-double translates to a player having a great game.

If you look at how often a triple-double occurs in the NBA, there are roughly 130 triple-doubles per season on average. And because there are 1230 total games that occur in a single NBA season, that equals roughly 1 triple-double occurring for every 9 or 10 regular-season games that are played.

With that knowledge, let’s look at some ways we can compare basketball’s triple-double to baseball.

4 Comparable Ways to Measure a Triple-Double in Baseball

1) One Player Earns 8 Total Bases (TB) in a Game

One of the best comparable stats I’ve heard when trying to compare basketball’s triple-double to baseball is the definition that a triple-double in baseball is equivalent to one player earning 8 Total Bases (TB) in one game.

Chris Richards from livestrong.com gives a compelling argument in this video as to why he believes 8 Total Bases in one game is a good definition for a triple-double in baseball.

In a nutshell, acquiring 8 Total Bases in one game is difficult to achieve, but it’s also not so difficult that it is an impossible task. Effort-wise, 8 Total Bases in one game is fairly similar to a triple-double in basketball.

Let’s look at what it takes to get 8 Total Bases in a single game.

To calculate Total Bases, you’d count up how many bases a player touched when they made contact with the ball. So a single counts as “1”, a double counts as “2”, a triple counts as “3”, and a home run counts as “4”. Total Bases only includes hits and does not include any other outcomes from an at-bat, like an error.

To reach 8 Total Bases, a player needs a minimum of 2 home runs in one game. But 8 total bases could also be achieved by hitting two triples and a double, or by hitting 4 doubles in a game.

So overall, 8 Total Bases in one game means a player had a great game and it is just one potential way of comparing basketball’s triple-double to baseball.

2) One Player Hits 3 Doubles in a Game

Another way to look at a triple-double in baseball is to take the name more literally. A triple-double in baseball could mean that a player hit three doubles in a single game.

This method would be a good comparison to basketball’s triple-double because hitting three doubles in a single game is very hard to do. In addition, hitting three doubles in a game means that the player had a great day at the plate.

So taking the name more literally and looking at which players hit three doubles in a game checks off two high-level requirements to be compared to basketball’s triple-double statistic:

  • This stat is not easy to accomplish
  • Achieving this stat means the player had a great game

3) One Player Hits for the Cycle

All baseball players want to hit the ball as far as possible and score as many runs as possible, but the one coveted stat for all batters is hitting for the cycle.

In baseball, hitting for the cycle means one player hits a single, double, triple, and a home run in the same game. Players can acquire these types of hits in any order throughout the game.

Hitting for the cycle is another stat in baseball that is very hard for an individual to accomplish, but those who have hit for the cycle are considered to have had a great game.

The only downfall when trying to compare hitting for the cycle to basketball’s triple-double is that hitting for the cycle happens a lot less frequently than triple-doubles in basketball.

4) Acquiring Baseball Stats That Are Comparable to Basketball Stats

The last way to try to compare basketball’s triple-double to a baseball statistic is to look at the baseball stat that is most commonly aligned with the basketball stat.

As a reminder, a basketball player gets a triple-double when they get 10 or more stats in one of five categories – points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

A triple-double in baseball could be defined as one player getting at least 1 or 2 stats in similar categories. Below is a table that breaks down how one basketball statistic can relate to another baseball statistic.

Basketball Stat for a Triple-DoubleEquivalent Baseball Stat
StealsStolen Bases

It’s difficult to compare a block in basketball to any stat in baseball, so that one is left blank.

But based on the table above, any fan could potentially define a triple-double in baseball as a player acquiring 1 (or even 2) stats in three out of these four categories: runs, assists, RBIs, and stolen bases.

In Major League Baseball, it’s not uncommon for a player to get a 0 for all of these categories on any given day. But players are having a good day on the field if they are able to acquire one or two stats in three out of those four categories.

Three Other Definitions for a Triple-Double in Baseball

If you’re searching online for an equivalent to a triple-double in baseball, you’ll eventually run into some people who throw out stats that are either a team stat or a stat that is acquired over a season.

Because these types of stats do not cover how well one player did, it would be unfair to use them to compare to a triple-double in basketball, but we can still go over those potential definitions for a triple-double in baseball.

1) One Team Hits Three Doubles in a Row

The other day I was watching the Chicago Cubs and they ended up hitting three doubles in a row. After the third batter hit a double, the announcer stated that the Cubs hit a “triple double”.

Although this is quite different from the triple-double in basketball, a team that hits three doubles in a row has technically gotten themselves a triple-double.

In basketball, a triple-double is earned by one player, but in this scenario, a triple-double is earned by a team effort.

2) A Player Earns the Triple Crown

A Triple Crown in baseball is when one player is the leading scorer for the season in three main offensive categories: batting average (AVG), home runs (HR), and runs batted in (RBI).

While earning a Triple Crown in baseball is an impressive feat, this possible definition of a triple-double has two flaws when trying to compare it to basketball’s triple-double:

  • A Triple Crown is earned over the course of an entire season instead of in one game
  • A Triple Crown is very rare, with only 27 Triple Crown winners in all of baseball’s history

So even though a Triple Crown deals with a baseball player earning stats in 3 categories, it’s probably not the best comparison when trying to compare it with basketball.

3) One Player Hits 10 Home Runs & Steals 10 Bases For 10 Consecutive Seasons

According to Hawk4theHall, a triple-double in baseball is when a player gets 10 or more home runs and 10 or more stolen bases for 10 consecutive seasons.

While these numbers would be impressive for any baseball player, this would not be a good stat to use if we were looking to compare this with basketball’s definition of a triple-double.

These numbers show how well one player did over the course of many seasons while basketball’s definition shows how well one player did during one game.

Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball on two different adult baseball teams in the surrounding area.

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