The double play has been called the pitcher's best friend and for good reason. It's a pretty good deal when you can get two outs for the price of one pitch. A while back, this site featured a post stating that pitchers should have an adjusted Walks plus Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP) that takes ground balls double plays into account. Pitchers like Mark Buehrle give up a lot of hits which leads to a high WHIP. But if he induces double play grounders in the course of a season, shouldn't there be an adjustment to WHIP to reflect that? The converse is also true. A batter should have his batting average adjusted for the times he grounds into a double play. After all, the batter accounted for two outs with that at bat and not just one. Here are some facts concerning players Grounding Into Double Plays (GIDP).
Fact #1 - There are only two players that have grounded into more than 20 double plays in each of the last three seasons. They are Alex Rios and Billy Butler. Butler lead the world in 2010 with a whopping 32 GIDPs. Rios made the list for all three seasons, but just barely as his totals were 20, 21 and 21. If you adjusted Butler's batting average for the last three years to account for the extra outs, his average would go from .300 to .287. The Fan added 75 plate appearances to account for his extra outs on his 75 double plays over the last three seasons. Adjusting Rios the same way, his BA would go from .273 to .265.
Fact #2 - In addition to Butler and Rios, fourteen other players banged into more than 20 double plays twice in the past three seasons, they are: Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Derek Lee, Carlos Lee, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada (who had 61 combined in 2008, 2009!), Ivan Rodriguez, Kurt Suzuki, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Lopez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Michael Cuddyer and Yunel Escobar. Some of those players hit for good averages and/or good power. But take a guy like Jose Lopez, who has batted in the mid-.250 range and add 45 GIDPs in those two years, and that's a lot of outs.
Fact #3 - Peralta gets a little special recognition. In the two years he combined to hit 46 double plays, he also struck out 260 times. So of the 872 at bats where he did not get a hit, Peralta struck out or grounded into a double play 306 times. That's a lot of stinky outs.
Fact #4 - In the last three seasons, two batters have combined for more than 70 GIDPs and ten more combined for 60 or more. They are: Miguel Tejada (77), Billy Butler (75), Yadier Molina (67), Derek Jeter (64), Yunel Escobar (63). Adrian Gonzalez (62), Albert Pujols (62), Vladimir Guerrero (62), Derek Lee (62), Alex Rios (62), Magglio Ordonez (60) and Ivan Rodriguez (60).
Fact #5 - Of the list for Fact #4, three are shortstops, two are catchers, four are first basemen, one is a DH and three are outfielders.
Fact #6 - In the last ten years, the top five leaders in GIDP are:
- 1. Tejada with 224 (22.4 a season!)
- 2 Albert Pujols with 203. Now that's a surprise.
- 3 Vladimir Guerrero with 194.
- 4. Paul Konerko with 181
- 5 Michael Young with 172
For those of you who are following along with this thought pattern, that's a total of 1948 outs among the five players or an average of 389.6 outs each over the ten years.
Fact # 7 - In the last five years, the top five in GIDP are: Tejada, Pujols, Young, Yadier Molina and Jeter. Of the five, Michael Young had the most strikeouts with 517. So over the last five years, Young has had over a whole season of at bats that were either strikeouts or GIDPs (622). If you want to look at it another way, the Rangers have paid Young one year in the last five where he either didn't put the ball in play or when he did, accounted for two outs with one swing. Ouch.