Death By Double Plays


(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that the Yankees have struggled with men in scoring position this year — .220/.324/.397 (90 wRC+) as a team following last night’s 1-for-8 showing — bringing nightly frustration even though they continue to run off win after win thanks to some stellar pitching. Part of that futility with men on base is the team’s propensity to ground into rally killing double plays, which they did on two occasions last night. I swear it felt like six or seven.

Over the last four games the offense has managed to ground into seven twin-killings, at least two in every game. It took them 13 games to ground into their previous seven nine double plays, so right now it’s happening at an absurd rate. After grounding into 18 double plays in 22 April games, the Yankees have grounded into 36 double plays in the 37 games since. As a team, the Bombers have hit into a double play in 12% of their double play opportunities according to Baseball Reference, tied for the sixth highest rate in baseball.

Double play futility like that isn’t a one or two-man thing, it’s a team wide epidemic. Derek Jeter leads the way with eleven twin-killings, the second most in baseball (min. 150 PA) — Joe Mauer has 14 — and one more than he had all of last season. Of course 2011 was the anomaly; the Cap’n is always good for 18+ double plays a season. The trio of Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez has hit into 21 total double plays, exactly seven each. All three are among the top 25 offenders in baseball (min. 150 PA). The only regulars that have hit into double plays at a rate lower than the league average (2.2% of plate appearances) are Curtis Granderson (1.5%) and Nick Swisher (1.8%).

The funny part in all of this is the Yankees are in the exact same spot as last year, when they also hit into a double play in 12% of their opportunities. It’s just the timing that makes it feel so awful right now. They’re struggling to bring runners home and every double play feels like a punch to the stomach. The fact that they’ve picked up the GIDP pace in May and June after a slow April hasn’t helped either. There’s this feeling of anxiety every time the Yankees get men on base given their season-long futility, but the double plays really aren’t the core problem. They all seem to be pressing and this recent penchant for the double play is just the result, a symptom of the bigger problem.

Categories : Offense
  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    “Over the last four games the offense has managed to ground into seven twin-killings, at least two in every game.”

    Um, that’s not possible.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Whoops, supposed to be nine.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Um, that’s not possible.

      Sure it is. They’re the Yankees. And Jeter hits a ton of groundballs.

    • Thomas

      Um, that’s not possible.

      Kevin Garnett told me “Anything is possible!”

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Never trust a man with the letters B-O-S-T-O-N on his chest.

  • gc

    This is the scary thing. The team is winning games, but we STILL haven’t seen them really put it all together yet. They could play so much better.

    • Bo Knows

      they honestly haven’t even been doing things at 50% of what they are capable of. Which is both very very sad, and leaves us very very hopeful

  • 28 in 2012

    I wonder if any other team has had the bases loaded as many times as the Yankees this year. It seems like they load them up every 2-3 innings. Kay said it well yesterday when the Braves walked the bases loaded for the second time: “They have the Yankees where they want them” – tongue in cheek, but true. Sure enough, dp.
    All this is a sign that eventually they will hit and watch out Al East when that happens.
    As far as Jeter, I dont remember him being so streaky. He either destroys the ball or looks shitty for months at a time. He is starting to look a lot like the 2011 pre-3K Jeter…

  • Steve (different one)

    The Yankees need someone to clear the bases with a double. They are pressing.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    …at some point could we try stealing? I mean, if a guy is going to get thrown out, and then another guy grounds out at first, maybe we could, you know, try something new.