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Doubled Up 2010 Final Count: The Worst

Posted By Matt Klaassen On November 17, 2010 @ 4:00 pm In Daily Graphings | 24 Comments

Earlier this season, I posted about measuring how much a hitter costs his team by grounding into double plays, and ranked the best and the worst at doing so at that point in the season. You can look at those posts for methodological details; in short, each double play grounded into (or avoided) is worth about .35 runs, so by looking at a player’s double play rate on this table and comparing it to the league average (about 11% in 2010), and multiplying by .35, we can get the number of runs the hitter cost his team above or below average. Today, we’ll take a look at the five players who cost their teams the most by grounding into double plays in 2011. [Edit ~11:00 PM EST: Some observant readers found that I had mistakenly published only from the AL leaderboards. My apologies for the stupid mistake on my part. This should be the corrected version; for those craving the {inadvertant} AL-only version, I'm sure some web archive has recorded my "brilliance."]

The ranking is by runs. The numbers are GiDPs vs. GiDP opportunities, percentage grounded into, rounded number of GiDPS below average, and runs below average.

There is three-way tie for fifth (or third?) worst between:

Adrian Beltre, 25-127, 20%, 11 worse than average, -3.85 runs
Pablo Sandoval, 26-137, 19%, 11 worse than average, -3.85 runs
Wilson Valdez, 20-83, 24%, 11 worse than average, -3.85 runs

Beltre is easily the best player on this list, and, as everyone knows, had a great overall season in 2010. Beltre has some of the attributes you’d expect from a player who has trouble with double plays: right-handed, a bit of a free swinger, and unexceptional speed, but it has only been since last season (18%) that he has really had trouble. It isn’t clear to me whether this has to do with a change in his plate approach, age and injuries hampering his speed, or random variation. In any case, his primary selling points are a revived bat and an awesome glove at third base, this shouldn’t effect his status as one of the the offseason’s premier free agents. I’ve written about Pablo Sandoval recently, so I won’t say much more than this being another reason the Giants are understandably concerned about him. It is acceptable when his wOBA is in the .390s or .360s, not so much when it is .314. As for Wilson Valdez, well, he didn’t “win,” but that’s an impressive performance given his limited playing time.

Second Worst:

Ivan ‘Pudge” Rodriguez, 25-88, 28%, 15 worse than average, -5.25 runs

Pudge’s .279 wOBA in 2010 was the worst of his career, but by one measure, he had a great year defensively. However, neither figure includes his dreadful performance in double play situations. He’s pretty much always had a problem with it, but this year’s 28& was the worst over a full season in his career.

The worst of 2010:

Billy Butler, 32-135, 24 worse than average, -5.95 runs

This is no surprise for anyone who has follows such things. If anything, it is a bit surprising that Butler didn’t supplant Jim Rice for the most double plays in a season, or even the second most (Rice hold both places). Butler had another good season offensively in 2010, but the double plays are nothing new; Butler is a big, slow guy who hits a lot of grounders. His power isn’t bad, but it isn’t what one would expect given his (ahem) body type. He’s still only 24, so that has time to develop. Despite his offensive skill and potential for growth, given his marginal defensive abilities at first base, it is hurts for Butler to be giving back half a win of his offensive value by grounding into double plays. This might sound crazy, but given his double play issue, good on-base percentage, and good-but-not-great power, the Royals should seriously consider having him hit leadoff.


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