On Monday night, San Diego Padres first baseman and probably best player Wil Myers hit for the cycle. While arbitrary, hitting for the cycle is fun and fulfills the baseball fan's need for round numbers and matching.
Humans in general like patterns, and having one of each kind of hit touches on that. Kind of like the 5x5 or triple double in basketball, or 100 rushing yards in football. It's been done 253 times now since 1913. Not all are created equal of course — Jimmie Foxx drove in nine runs in his four hits in 1938, Ralph Kiner had eight and also hit two home runs in 1950. In 1998 Dante Bichette earned a 1.141 Win Probability Added (WPA) when he hit for the cycle, literally being worth more than a win in his team's 9-8 victory. Mike Trout's cycle in 2013, a 12-0 win over the Seattle Mariners, was actually worth -.0012 WPA somehow. It's always exciting when a guy is chasing a cycle though, and I got to wondering, what players might do the deed for the Tribe this year?
A cycle has only been done eight times in modern Cleveland baseball history, though the Spiders got one also. Opponents have recorded 10 against the Naps/Indians/Bronchos, so it's a rarity for games involving Cleveland in general. That said, Rajai Davis did it last year during a loss in Toronto. Carlos Santana got as close as being a home run away on September 30th. The triple avoided Mike Napoli four times last year, Francisco Lindor twice, and Jose Ramirez, Marlon Byrd and Yan Gomes once. Somehow Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin got all but the double. Cashing in that last hit, particularly the triple, always seems to be a nigh impossible feat. Probably because hitting is hard anyway, and by the end of the day you're facing a fireballing reliever, but people convince themselves that players are locked in that day. Whether or not that's true, who knows.
Anyway, here's some players who could do it, ranked.
5. Austin Jackson
He's essentially everything Rajai Davis was for the Indians last year, just with a better glove in the outfield. He's also hit a bunch of triples in the past, leading the league two years in a row. Of course, that was playing 81 games in Comerica Park, which was built for triples. Jackson will find himself back there for a few games this year, and he's got the power to get it out of the park too. A lucky day and who knows, he could grab it. Plus, he has the wheels to leg out an infield single or stretch a hit to an extra base or two if he's chasing that last qualifier.
Jackson isn’t what he once was, but if he is here to replace Davis, surely he can tap into that special something.
4. Jason Kipnis
This all depends on which Kipnis shows up this year. If it's the home run hitting one, maybe he'll feel he's too good for triples and just stop on second and give the massive bats behind him a chance to keep blasting rather than risk an out. But if he gets back to working the opposite field, that could open up some gaps for the triple as well as doubles, then just turn on one and put it in the seats.
3. Tyler Naquin
Wheels, man. That's the key to all this. For all his problems playing defense, he covers the ground even if he doesn't make the catch all the time. That's not a problem on the basepaths. Naquin plays with such reckless abandon and is streaky as hell, so there's a chance he could just catch savage fire one day and blast his way to a cycle. He did hit an inside the park home run last year too, so maybe that luck will show up again.
2. Jose Ramirez
If only because there's already a mythology of sorts surrounding this man where he can do literally anything as long as you don't expect it, Ramirez has to be one of the illustrious few capable of recording a cycle. He is like Jackson in that he has surprising power, he hits the ball to all fields and he gets lucky with grounders. Really, of anyone on this list save the man above him, once he homers early in a game he's super close anyway.
Also, as with Naquin he has a reckless abandon to him. His helmet must fly. This leads to extra bases where there shouldn't be.
1. Francisco Lindor
Every list that hopes to compile Indians players most likely to do something amazing must, at this point, end with Francisco Lindor.
We already saw Lindor hit a home run from each side of the plate this year. He's one of the youngest players on the team yet also one of the best, and his offensive profile demands that he'll hit for the cycle sooner or later. Hopefully this year. He just seems to be a bit magical, case in point that Texas game where he hit those two dingers.
When he needs to do something, he just does it. So hunting for that last hit, even a triple, would probably just come naturally to him.
Bradley Zimmer - He's like Naquin, only better. As long as he gets the strikeouts under control, anyway.
Lonnie Chisenhall - If Naquin is streaky, Chisenhall is Frank the Tank. The man can hit about .800 for a month. You'd have to think he could cram a cycle in there somewhere.,
Carlos Santana - Either him or Brantley, and Santana hits more home runs. And he hits leadoff. And it's a contract year. He just doesn't have quite the leg speed for that triple. But you never know.
As a final note, this is not definitive and probably silly. But what is baseball?