Mequon, WI- Lakeshore Chinooks infielder, Owen Miller, made history Wednesday night as the Illinois State product collected his second cycle in his last three games, the 11th cycle ever recorded by a Northwoods League player, and only the 5th cycle in the last decade of Northwoods League baseball.
Miller led-off his day with a double in the first inning, knocked a single in the third, hit another single in the fifth, mashed a two-run homer in the seventh and finished off with a two-out triple in the bottom of the eight to clinch his historic feat.
“I knew that I needed a triple, and I was thinking, ‘just hit it in the gap,’ Miller said postgame. “It was a good feeling; it was cool that some of my family and friends were there.”
Here’s the all-time Northwoods League cycle list:
The first thing that stands for Brewer fans is the presence of Eric Thames. Before he was rocketing Bernie Brewer slide-inducing homers at Miller Park, he was a five-tool behemoth for the La Crosse Loggers that had a summer line of .301/383/.455 with three homers, 43 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.
The second stand-out is the sheer rarity of the cycle in the Northwoods League and exactly how impressive of an accomplishment Miller’s two in three-day feat is.
Besides 1997, where there were two cycles from two different players within three days of each other, there haven't been two cycles that have occurred within the same calendar year.
Overall, fans don't understand how rare a cycle is. It’s rarer than a no-hitter. In fact, fangraphs.com did a calculation of how likely it is for an average MLB player to hit for a cycle. What they found was a player near the top of the order had about a 0.0071% chance per game to hit for the cycle. Or, one cycle in every 14,000 games.
Taking into account that Miller was batting 6th, that percentage sinks much lower. According to hardballtimes.com, that percentage is .00018%, or 1 in every 5,522 games.
While we’re on the subject of the Major Leagues, let’s dive into some historical MLB stats because leaving Miller’s big day at the Northwoods League level doesn't do it justice.
Since 1882, when Curry Foley of the Buffalo Bisons recorded the first ever cycle in professional baseball, there have been just 316 cycles. The most recent came from the Rockies Nolan Arenado on June 18th.
Only four players have hit for three career cycles in their career: Bob Meusel, Adrian Beltre, Babe Herman and John Reilly.
Multiple cycles in a single season are just as rare. Only four players have ever hit two in a single season: Babe Herman, Aaron Hill, Tip O’Neil and John Reilly.
Here’s where it gets special for Miller. The record for shortest amount of time between cycles is seven days. John Reilly recorded his first on September 12th, 1883 and his second on September 19th, 1883. However, the modern day baseball record belongs to Aaron Hill who, in 2012, hit two cycles within a 12-day span. His first came on June 18th and the second on June 29th.
That means, in MLB history, no one has ever produced two cycles in a shorter amount of time than Miller.
Let’s dig deeper. According to a New York Times article published on July 6th, 2001, Hank Blalock (yes, the one of Rangers fame) became “the first player in modern minor league history to hit for the cycle twice in a week.”
So, what we’ve deduced is that Miller—after a deep-dive into Google— could’ve possibly tied the baseball record, regardless of level or affiliation, for the shortest distance between cycles in history.
Further on Blalock, after hitting his first cycle three days after being called up to Class AA Tulsa, he hit a second just two days afterward. However, Blalock had a flair for the dramatic. After a one-hour rain delay, he hit a two-run walk-off homer to secure the accolade.
On the surface, Miller’s cycle seemed much more straight forward. In a game that was already 17-6 and well out of hand, he pushed a triple into the right-center gap off a pitcher who’s registered as a catcher on the Rivets active roster.
But, that at-bat never would've happened if not for an impressive effort by the team around him and some dumb luck, because that at-bat was his second in the eighth inning.
Miller was in the hole when the eighth got underway but drew a walk after working the count full. Everyone in the stadium assumed the cycle bid was over, but the game just kept dragging on. Eventually, five more walks brought Miller back up for another chance, and he delivered a perfectly placed ball into the gap.
Though it wasn't quite a walk-off homer, it had an elated crowd jumping for joy on a sluggish post fourth of July evening.
For some added flair, the Chinooks also record a triple play in the game—the first in Lakeshore history—when Jacob Richardson speared a liner at third, flipped it to Matthew Mika for the force out at second and caught a confused runner at first who thought the inning was already over.
The crazy part about that triple play, it was the second time in the last four games and just 15 plate appearances that Rockford's Ryan Hutchinson hit into a triple play.
In MLB history, there have been 711 triple plays, and as far as I could find, the closest gap belongs to Billy Williams in 1969. He hit into his first triple play on August 13th and his second on August 29th. So, that means we saw the smallest gap between a triple play and cycle from the same player in relative baseball history. That's what you call an insane baseball game.
“There was a lot of runs, cycle, triple play; you don’t see that every day,” Miller said. “I’ve played a lot of baseball in my life, and I think I’ve only seen one other triple play and I’ve never seen a cycle before…It was a crazy game.”
Well, he’s certainly seen plenty of cycles now, but, he’s right, it was a crazy game, and probably one of the craziest anybody there will ever be a part of. And, Miller said it was much more special to accomplish the feat at Kapco Park.
“It was cooler than the cycle in Kalamazoo,” he said. “I knew a lot of people here, my dad was here, my cousins. It was definitely a good experience.”