Doubled Up 2010: The Best (So Far)

On Wednesday, I wrote about measuring the runs a player costs his team by grounding into (or avoiding) the double play. If you haven’t, I recommend taking a look at that post if you’re interested in the methodological details. Today I’ll discuss the players who have been the best at avoiding the double play ranked by the runs they’ve cost saved their team relative to average (0.35 runs above/below average per GiDP opportunity — average is around 11%) in 2010, then go over a few interesting points in conclusion to both discussions.*

* For today’s post I’m using the most recent data from Baseball-Reference’s situational leaderboards, so things “on top” (or bottom, depending on your perspective) have changed since then, although not much.

There are a number of hitters at around +1.4 runs, and between no double plays (in fewer oppportunities than the leaders below) and four percent grounded into per opportunity. In no particular order: Adam Dunn, Curtis Granderson, Hideki Matsui, Justin Morneau, Carlos Pena, Cody Ross, Josh Willingham, and Chris Young.

The second best player in GiDP runs saved is Carl Crawford, who is 0-45 in DP situations so far, +1.75 runs. He’s been excellent at it throughout his career, but this is also a a bit ironic given that Crawford is perceived as a great leadoff man (although he hasn’t always been used that way). It is well-established that, on average the lead off spot sees the fewest DP opportunities (runner on first with less than two outs). Of course, Crawford has been seen as a lead off man because of his speed, particularly his basestealing ability. But as The Book also notes, having a great basestealer leading off is a bit of a flawed strategy, since most teams have good hitters (usually with good power) hitting behind him; does Evan Longoria really need Crawford’s help in moving along the basepaths? As with most things batting-order related, it’s a tiny difference over a season (and in 2010, Crawford hasn’t led of at all, maybe Joe Maddon read something co-authored by his biggest fan?), but it is interesting to note. As an aside, The Book also mentions that the third spot sees the most GiDP chances on average, which is why good hitters like Joe Mauer and Billy Butler might not fit well in that spot in the order.

Josh Hamilton leads the league in GiDP runs saved so far this season, at +2.1, and over his career, he’s been about as good as Crawford. It’s a nice addition to the mini-comeback season he’s had. I’m guessing it’s the tattoos.

Three (promissory?) notes in conclusion two these two posts:

a) I don’t think it needs to be said (but I’ll say it anyway) that these are just “leaderboards” for the current season, not estimations of true talent (“projections”), although the leaders/trailers so far have been players one would expect give past performance (Billy Butler and Joe Mauer having problems, Hamilton and Crawford doing well). I might mess around with projections after the season, right after I finish all that other stuff I want to do but don’t have time to do.

b) It is interesting, but not entirely surprising, that low-strikeout players not known for their wheels (Butler, Mauer, Pablo Sandoval, Ivan Rodriguez) have been the worst so far these season, and while there are some speedsters up top (Crawford, Granderson) there are also some slow guys who strike out a lot like Dunn and Pena (Granderson and Young, among others, also strike out a good deal). This small sample with regard to both time and number of players doesn’t prove anything, but it suggest to me that while speed is an important factor in double play avoidance, taking pitches might also be a factor. Of course, to get the full measurement of cost/benefit here, we’d have to also measure the linear weights of productive outs and groundouts in general above and below average to see what the strikeout guys might be missing out on, too.

c) It is also curious that the handedness of the leaders and trailers is in line with some initial findings by MGL (who shouldn’t be blamed for anything I write here, obviously). Of the players having the most problems so far from Wednesday’s post, all are right-handed hitters except for Pablo Sandoval and Joe Mauer, who are themselves atypical hitters (Sandoval for his success while swinging at everything, Mauer for his preference for the opposite field). Almost all of today’s leaders are left-handed. This requires much more study, but it suggests that handedness matters, and that when projecting GiDP skill, that regression by hitter-handedness might be a good idea.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


10 Responses to “Doubled Up 2010: The Best (So Far)”

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  1. DSMok1 says:

    Excellent work, Matt!

    I have Billy Butler in a Fantasy points league where GIDP counts heavily against me.

    His 15 GIDP’s vs. Prince Fielder’s 2 GIDP’s are the only difference in scoring between the two. And the difference between 12th and 25th in 1B scoring this year.

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  2. atomicruckus says:

    Regarding point B–Bill James one wrote that Darren Daulton hardly ever grounded into double plays because he was willing to take a walk with a man on base. So he’d take a lot of outside pitches that other hitters would try to pull and hit weakly to second.
    There’s probably something to it, because he had a 14.5% career walk rate and only grounded into 35 DP his entire career despite being one of the slowest players in the game.
    If only the Phillies could teach Wilson Valdez to take that outside pitch…

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  3. Mike says:

    I’d be very interested to see the numbers if Strike Outs were dropped off. I am sure Dunn would be a little further from the top.

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  4. jfpbookworm says:

    For a lot of these guys, it’s not just that they strike out a lot and walk a lot; they also hit a lot of fly balls (Crawford being a notable exception). You can’t have a GIDP without the G.

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  5. DSMok1 says:

    I adjusted quickly using strikeout rates (not actual data) and removed SO’s from DP opps. So Billy Butler had 15 SOs in (56*(1-.105))=50.12 opps. League average moves from 11% to 13.1% in this construction.

    15 Worst:
    Billy Butler -3.30
    Pablo Sandoval# -2.65
    Ivan Rodriguez -2.51
    Wilson Valdez -2.22
    Sean Rodriguez -2.21
    Joe Mauer* -2.18
    Carlos Lee -2.08
    Justin Upton -1.98
    Jake Fox -1.89
    Michael Cuddyer -1.87
    Aaron Rowand -1.80
    Tony Abreu# -1.63
    Mike Napoli -1.57
    Troy Tulowitzki -1.55
    Mark DeRosa -1.52

    15 Best:
    Marlon Byrd 1.20
    Jeremy Hermida* 1.24
    Roger Bernadina* 1.24
    Gordon Beckham 1.27
    Adam Rosales 1.29
    Rickie Weeks 1.36
    Cody Ross 1.53
    Carlos Pena* 1.53
    Hideki Matsui* 1.54
    Josh Willingham 1.59
    Curtis Granderson* 1.60
    Adam Dunn* 1.68
    Justin Morneau* 1.76
    Carl Crawford* 2.06
    Josh Hamilton* 2.34

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  6. Christian says:

    Am I wrong in saying that there is a fairly simple explanation for why lefties get doubled up less? Lefties get out of the box faster, and are closer, so it would be harder to double them up.

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  7. Circlechange11 says:

    It could also be that they tend to hit grounders toward the 1b/2b hole, a longer play. The same pull to the right side might be cut-off by the 3b or the ss playing pull.

    It’s likely not one or the other but a combo of both. Be interesting to see the % of lefty batters GIDP’s that are 4-6-3 or the harder to turn 3-6-3, and what % of RHB’s GIDP are 5-4-3 and the standard issue 6-4-3.

    Based on my experience 4-6-3 and 3-6-3 are tougher turns than are 6-4-3 and 5-4-3, but that’s probably obvious.

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  8. buff says:

    Most ground out double plays come with a man on first. With a man on first the first baseman tends to hold the runner on and this makes a bigger hole for the left handed batter to hit through. Also, yes the left handed batter has that extra step’s advantage getting to first and double plays tend to be closer plays at first. Finally, I think managers on balance are more likely to hit and run with a lefthanded batter facing a right handed pitcher than righty vs righty although I don’t have any statistics to back up that opinion.

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  9. Rally says:

    Crawford has generally not been a leadoff hitter. He hasn’t hit leadoff in the last 3 years (mostly batting #2), the last time he led off in a majority of his games was 2005.

    I surprised to see Matsui on the list, he’s as slow as they come. He must be able to avoid ever hitting a groundball with runners on first.

    Darren Daulton was not slow. He ran well for a catcher, even late in his career after millions of injuries. Dude hit 8 triples when he was 35! When he was young he was legitimately fast, period. He stole 28 bases in the minors in 1983.

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  10. nartin says:

    Matsui is one smart situational hitter and doesn’t HiDP alot even though he’s slow; he hits a lot of soft ground out, but when there’s a runner on first, he usually pops up or fly out.

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