Can Royals’ Paulo Orlando break the triples record?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Royals 29-year-old rookie outfielder has already made history.

So many unbelievable things happen over the course of a Major League Baseball season, but 2015 may already have its most unlikely story.

Kansas City Royals rookie Paulo Orlando has recorded an impossible five triples through his first seven games played in his career. As MLB Pipeline points out on Twitter, such a start has never happened in MLB history.

Orlando represents a perfect Cinderella story. After bouncing around the minors for 11 years between two different organizations, Orlando won the last spot on Kansas City’s roster out of spring training, made his MLB debut at age 29, and began swatting triples just about every game he’s appeared in.

Getting his name in the record book is already more than anyone possibly expected from Orlando. Given Orlando’s current pace, could more records be on the way?

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As you might expect, most MLB triples records are from the 1800s and early 1900s. Chief Wilson’s record 36 triples in 1912 is likely unattainable for anyone, let alone a 29-year-old rookie fourth outfielder.

Curtis Granderson’s mark of 23 triples in 2007, the most in a season by an active player and most since 1930, is a little more reasonable, but still a major stretch. Orlando’s best chance for another piece of history may be the record for triples by an American League rookie, currently held by Joe Cassidy (1904) and Frank Baker (1909) with 19.

The first required skill to be a triples hitter is speed. If Orlando hasn’t already proven he has great speed in his seven Major League Baseball games, he sure did in the minors.

Orlando recorded at least 20 stolen bases in seven separate minor-league seasons. He has shown an ability to hit for gap power but not much home run power, reaching double-digits in triples three times and a mark of at least 20 doubles four times, all good signs for his ability to hit triples moving forward.

Of course, triples require probably more luck than any other batting event in baseball. A slight mistake from the fielder or small shift in placement of the ball can often be the difference between a double and a triple.

Orlando’s current pace is completely unsustainable, so don’t expect him to be breaking too many more records. Maybe his luck evens out soon, or maybe it continues for a bit and Orlando finds himself with 10-15 triples at the All-Star break and a legitimate shot at more history. Orlando plays in a spacious home ballpark, slightly increasing his odds.

The biggest thing holding Orlando back from inching up the record books will be playing time. Orlando is the fourth outfielder in Kansas City behind the talented trio of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson. Gordon in particular is getting some regular days off now as he rests injuries, but that could change if the Royals are in a divison race.

If only Orlando had started his major league career early enough to rise up the active triples leaderboards. Even if Orlando doesn’t hit another triple, he has one of the coolest stories of the season.

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