Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Red Sox 1-36: 36 is for…

36 double plays grounded into by Jim Rice in 1984 

Once again, we have a major league record. Even I have to admit, that’s a lot of double plays. Rice came to the plate 708 times in 1984, so he grounded into a double play about 5% of the time he was up.

Does it mean anything?

Of course it means something. It means the same thing as every other time a player grounds into a double play.

He happened to hit a ground ball, and a guy happened to be on first base.

In Rice’s case, that happened quite a bit. In 1984, Rice followed (usually) Wade Boggs and Dwight Evans in the batting order. And, they were on first base a lot. How much? We’ll, in 1984 Boggs hit 162 singles, and walked 89 times. So, he was on first base 251 times. Evans? His 109 singles and 96 walks put him on base 205 times. Lots of those directly in front of Rice. With all that baserunner activity in front of him, I’m amazed that Rice didn’t hit into more double plays. He must have been up a lot with two outs, or something.

But, it supports what I always say when some twitter nut complains about the Sox grounding into “another” double play. My response? Great job getting “another” runner on first. Double plays are just ground balls that happen to be hit with a runner on first. You want to know how to stop grounding into double plays? Stop getting runners on base. If you have a perfect game thrown against you, you won’t ground into a single double play. Is that better?

So, 36 is quite a few double plays for Rice to have grounded into. But, if he batted 8th or 9th, instead of 3rd or 4th, that number would have been much lower. It wouldn’t mean that Rice had a better season. It would mean that the people in front of him had worse ones. Pretty sure that’s not what I’d be looking for.

How about you?

36 is for the 36 double plays Jim Rice grounded into in 1984.

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