Double Trouble | The Process Report

Double Trouble

In today’s column, Marc Topkin had this bit regarding the Rays and their lack of double plays this season:

The Rays set a major-league record by making only 96 double plays, fewest by any team since the advent of the 162-game schedule in 1961. The 2012 Padres had 97. While it has been obvious that their infield defense declined, manager Joe Maddon said the dropoff — they had 147 last season — was also the product of having pitchers that struck out more batters and allowed fewer ground balls, with an MLB-low ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.11. “Maybe there’s just less opportunities,” he said.


There were indeed fewer double plays this season by the Rays than in seasons past.



Yet, there was not a demonstrable drop off in opportunities. Given that double plays that originate batted balls to the outfield are typically in the single-digits each year, we will focus on batted ball data from the infield.

The table below shows the amount of batted balls on the infield (groundballs & bunts) over the past five seasons with 0 or 1 outs (data via trumedia):

Split 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
1st 360 349 390 379 344
1st & 2nd 489 469 498 484 461
1st & 3rd 401 406 433 428 389
Loaded 21 25 19 27 23
Totals 3281 3260 3352 3331 3231

While Maddon was correct about there being fewer opportunities, the 2014 total was very much in line with the 2011 total when the team converted 138 double plays and three percent change from 2013.

Why the drop? The single-year defensive metrics were not kind to the Rays’ infielders this season.

Position 2013 UZR/150 2014 UZR/150
1B 6.7 0.7
2B 11.6 -2.5
SS 13.7 -20.9
3B 16.9 -3.1

In the end, the three percent drop in opportunities was multiplied more than tenfold by a 35 percent drop in double plays converted by the defense.

One Comment

  1. otownraysfan wrote:

    great study and rebuttal to maddon’s rather lame assessment. i know he likes quant studues – hope he see THIS ONE.

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