Double plays kill rallies; Tigers take over MLB lead in GIDP
Detroit entered Sunday’s game tied with Minnesota for the most double plays grounded into in Major League Baseball (115), and added two more to the tally in the 7-5 loss to the Orioles.
It’s a product of a couple of things:
Yes, it does mean that the Tigers have more baserunners than almost anyone else. They were tied with Texas for the best on-base percentage in the American League (.338) coming into play Sunday, giving them more opportunities when a double play could happen. And they still have the third-most runners left on base (847).
But double plays don’t magically make themselves, and there’s no cause-effect relationship between having more baserunners and having them erased by a double play.
For a team that produces far less than one ground ball for every fly ball (0.86 ratio, right at the MLB average), it sure seems like a disproportionate number of them go right to an infielder, hit hard enough for them to turn two. Minnesota, by contrast, has a 1.03 ratio, highest in baseball.
“We hit a lot of balls hard, and we don’t run all that well, in some cases. We run hard,” manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s all part of it.”
The penchant for hitting into double plays was costly as the Tigers tried to rally against Orioles starter Wei-Yen Chen and the Baltimore bullpen Sunday. But Prince Fielder hit into a pair of inning-ending twin killings — one in the second and one in the seventh.
The latter ended the Tigers’ last gasp, a rally that was aided when O’s second baseman Omar Quintannilla dropped what should have been a double play ball off the bat of Omar Infante, trying to get the handle to make the throw to first. He’d get another chance six pitches later, after Miguel Cabrera struck out, and Fielder sent a slow-roller toward second base.
“That’s just part of the game. You can’t expect guys to do it all the time, every time. That’s not fair, to expect that,” Leyland said.
“We felt pretty good late, with first and second, Miggy up. We caught a little break there, when the second baseman didn’t handle the throw. But like I said, it’s not fair to expect them to do it every single time, every day. It’s not going to happen. You can’t expect that.