Wil Myers Continues His Red-Hot Start With a Cycle
Sometimes in baseball, we like to celebrate luck.
There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with celebrating a perfect game in which the defense behind a pitcher made three or four outstanding defensive plays on balls that might ordinarily fall in for a hit.
There's nothing wrong with celebrating a no-hitter in which the pitcher gets away with three or four mistake pitches resulting in pop ups rather than home runs. And there's nothing wrong with celebrating a cycle, a game in which a batter hits a single, double, triple and homer in the same game, one of the oddities of baseball that doesn't come along all that often.
.@Wilmyers collects ALL of the hits to nail down the second cycle in @Padres history (Matt Kemp, 2015). pic.twitter.com/eO0ZnfaujN
— MLB (@MLB) April 11, 2017
And Myers did it the hard way, saving his triple for last.
.@wilmyers needed a triple for the second cycle in @Padres history, and thanks to his hustle, he got it: https://t.co/YVTDdgo8YC pic.twitter.com/1xaOFiHhPy
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 11, 2017
It happens quite often in baseball that a player collects the single, double and dinger but falls short of the cycle by failing to get that triple. Last year, only three players -- Freddie Freeman, Rajai Davis and John Jaso -- managed to pull off a cycle despite a number of near misses.
But Myers had the good fortune of playing Colorado last night, with its spacious outfield alleys. Coors field allowed the eighth-most triples per game last season, according to ESPN's park factors. In 2015, they finished atop the triples list, and from 2012 to 2015, the park finished in the top three each season.
Wil Myers' cycle is the 15th hit at Coors Field since it opened in 1995.
Next-most since 1995: Globe Life Park in Arlington - 7
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 11, 2017
Cycles are about as rare as no-hitters, with Myers' being the 289th in MLB history. By contrast there have been 295 no-hitters, 252 in the modern era, which began in 1901. The last Padres player to pull off the feat was Matt Kemp in August of 2015, and it's fitting that San Diego's best player was the one to make history again.
The Padres waited 7,443 games for their first cycle. Thanks to Wil Myers, they waited only 215 more for a repeat. https://t.co/DleHKmfGQR pic.twitter.com/hEvECCZXKK
— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) April 11, 2017
Myers has turned into a true star for the Padres. Last year, he finally lived up to his mega-prospect billing by hitting .259/.336/.461 with 28 bombs, 94 RBI, 99 runs scored and 28 stolen bases, nearly joining the exclusive 30-homer, 30-steal club. His fWAR of 3.8 was eighth-best among qualified MLB first basemen last season, and his OPS+ of 113 (league average is 100) helped him make his first All-Star team.
It's early, but Myers leads the National League in total bases (27), hits (13) and runs (8) in 2017. He is batting .382/.382/.794 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI and an OPS+ of 202 through eight games.
Myers' hot offensive start correspondents with a decrease in his ground-ball rate, something we've seen being employed by a number of Major League players with great success over the last two seasons. In this admittedly small sample size, Myers' ground-ball rate has fallen from 44.7% last year to just 35.7% this year, resulting in an increase in his line drive rate (21.4% to 25.0%) and fly-ball rate (33.9% to 39.3%).
When you couple those numbers with a big spike in his hard-hit rate (according to Fangraphs) from 33.6% a year ago to 50.0% in the early going, it's easy to see why Myers is slugging a robust .794.
Obviously, some of these numbers will normalize a bit as the sample size gets larger, but two things are clear.
The first is that Wil Myers has become one of the best young hitters in baseball. The second is that, while cycles aren't indicative of any certain skill or talent level, they sure are a lot of fun.
And sometimes, it's OK to celebrate things that are fun.