In a previous post, I looked at the five players who hurt their teams the most by grounding into double plays in 2010. The worst players were around four to six runs below average. Avoiding the double play is also a skill, so today we’ll take a look at the players who saved their teams the most runs above average by doing so in 2010.
As before, the ranking is by runs. The numbers are GiDPs vs. GiDP opportunities, percentage grounded into, rounded number of GiDPS avoided above average, and runs above average.
Fifth best: Roger Bernadina, 3-106, 3%, 9 better than average, +3.15 runs
I’ll admit that I didn’t really know much about Roger Bernadina before the season started. I’m not sure there’s much of a reason to learn more going forward, but I’m open to correct, as always. He didn’t hit well in 2010, and the defensive metrics don’t like him, either. But at least he did a good job avoiding double plays. I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough to justify drafting him in most fantasy leagues, though.
Fourth best: Carlos Pena, 2-112, 2%, 10 better than average, +3.5 runs
One look at Carlos Pena’s 2010 batting line relative to his previous performances in Tampa Bay is enough to make one wonder if he was trying to single-handedly shatter the myth of the Big Contract Year. I’m not sure about that, but for years now he has shown that speed isn’t the only factor in avoiding the double play (6% career rate). Part of it is the Janus face of his frequent strikeouts– if he doesn’t swing (or swings and misses), at least it isn’t a double play. Part of Pena’s problem in past seasons has probably also been his rather low groundball rates, but this season he was right around league average (44%).
Third best: Jonny Gomes, 4-132, 3%, 11 better than average, +3.85 runs
If Pena is evidence that avoiding the double play isn’t necessarily all about speed, Gomes, who has the same career GDP per opportunity rate as Pena (6%), shows that one doesn’t necessarily have to be left-handed (which puts the hitter closer to first) to be successful at it, either. Gomes is an all-or-nothing hitter whose overall offense fluctuates year-to-year, while his defense is consistently bad. One thing he does do is keep the ball off the ground (less than 30% career groundball rate, according to his player page), which is probably the main reason he stays out of the double play.
There is a tie for the best of 2010:
Despite the efforts of Pena and Gomes, the stereotype of the fast, lefty hitters avoiding the double play best is confirmed by Granderson and Crawford. Granderson started the year slowly and made some wonder if the Yankees’ trade for him was a mistake. It will take a few more years for that to play out, but Granderson ended up hitting well while playing good defense in center field. Granderson’s combination of speed, left-handedness, and a low groundball rate (33% in 2010) makes it obvious how he does it year after year (4% career).
What more can be written about Crawford’s 2010? Like Carlos Pena, 2010 was Crawford’s walk year, but his performance was that of an anti-Pena (perhaps, like a vampire, he sucked away his teammate’s Contract Year Mojo), sporting career highs in home runs, slugging, and walks to go with a typically great year in the field. Unlike Granderson, Crawford hits the ball on the ground almost half the time, thus avoiding the double play through sheer speed. He may not like to hit leadoff, but given that the second and third spots in the order typically see the most double play situations, maybe that isn’t so bad.