And Jeter Grounds Into Double Play….

August 6, 2008 – 2:38 pm

Double plays are kind of a weird statistic.  Of course they are a “pitcher’s best friend” — the best rally-killer in the game.  Last night the Yankees hit into four DPs — that’s about a third of their allotted outs coughed up with four swings of the bat.  The weird thing about GIDPs, though, is you never hear much in the way of analysis of how they ultimately relate to winning.  In order to hit in to a lot of GIDPs you have to put men on base, and that’s clearly a good thing.  And the way to avoid GIDPs is to be aggressive on the bases — but at least in the AL that tends to be somewhat discouraged as you can easily run yourself out of an inning.  So it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  Ironically this year Girardi has taken some heat for being overly aggressive on the base paths — but at the same time, the Yankees are close to the top of the league in GIDPs.  The numbers would probably be even worse if Girardi had taken a more conservative approach.

Here are the numbers to date by team:

  1. Toronto 114
  2. Chicago 106
  3. Boston 106
  4. New York 102
  5. Los Angeles 101

That’s pretty good company that the Yankees have there.  Los Angeles has the best record in the league, and Boston and Chicago are third and fourth respectively.  So hitting in to double plays certainly seems to go along with winning baseball.  The exception here is Tampa Bay, who oddly has hit into only 73 GIDPs — only Baltimore has fewer (72).  But then Tampa Bay doesn’t seem to fit any of the norms this year.

The individual stats are:

  1. Guerrero (LAA) 21
  2. Jeter (NYY) 18
  3. Peralta (CLE) 17
  4. Mauer (MIN) 16
  5. Overbay (TOR) 16
  6. Renteria (DET) 16
  7. Ordonez (DET) 15
  8. Rios (TOR) 15
  9. Butler (KC) 14
  10. Suzuki (OAK) 14

As any Yankee fan would expect, Jeter is way up the list.  And all things considered, he’s not in bad company either.  All those guys are pretty respectable offensive players.  However, the one thing that does stick out is that with the sole exception of Renteria, all of those guys hit either third or fourth in the lineup — where you would expect to be hitting a lot with runners on base and so you would have a higher expectation of GIDPs.  But Jete is doing this from the number two slot.  Which begs the question that used to be raised a lot in past years — why isn’t Jeter hitting leadoff and Damon batting second?  That would seem to be the obvious solution to the GIDP problem, and Damon (.316/.391/.462)  is actually hitting much better than Jeter (.279/.342/.390).  Makes too much sense, I guess.

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