We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
A double play is an instance in which the defensive team records two outs on one single play. There are many possible types of double play, but the most common double plays are on ground balls. So, what exactly is a ground into double play?
Ground into double play (often shortened to GIDP) describes what happens when a batter hits a ground ball that results in two outs. Even though it sounds like an action, a GIDP is actually an outcome. In other words, it is a noun, not a verb.
GIDP is a common statistic for hitters, and it can be used to evaluate pitchers too. For hitters, it represents the total number of times that hitter has grounded into a double play over a given time period. For pitchers, it represents how many hitters have grounded into double plays while they were pitching.
What is a Play in Baseball?
According to the official baseball rulebook, a play is defined as any genuine effort by a member of the defensive team to retire a runner from the offensive team. A player must be in possession of the baseball in order to initiate a play.
The official baseball rules differentiate between plays and attempted plays. In this rulebook, a play must result in at least one out. An attempted play refers to an instance in which the defensive team makes an effort to record an out but is unable to do so.
Therefore, a double play is when the defensive team successfully records two outs on one play, and an attempted double play is when the defensive team tries, but is unable to record two outs on one play.
Colloquially many people use the term “play” to refer to both successful plays and attempted plays. However, the term “double play” is only used to refer to successful double plays.
When Can a Double Play Occur?
A double play can occur at any time and in any way so long as there are fewer than two outs and there is at least one runner on base. If there are already two outs, the defensive team cannot record a double play because the inning would end as soon as they recorded an out. There must be at least one runner on base so that the defensive team has two players to get out: the batter and one of the runners.
However, while double plays often include the batter, the batter does not have to get out if there are at least two runners already on base. For example, if the batter hits a ground ball and two runners get out but the batter safely makes it to first base, the batter is still said to have grounded into a double play.
When Can a GIDP Occur?
Just like any other kind of double play, a GIDP can occur anytime so long as there are fewer than two outs and at least one runner on. However, it is most common for a hitter to ground into a double play when there is at least one force play in order.
A force refers to when a runner has no choice but to advance bases. A force play is in order when there is a runner at first; runners on first and second; or runners on first, second, and third. When a force is in order, the defensive team only needs to step on the bag while holding the ball to record an out – they do not need to tag the runner.
It is much easier to record a double play when a force play is in order. Because the defensive team does not need to wait to tag the runner, they have more time to get both runners out on the same play.
What are the Types of Ground Into Double Play?
Technically, there are an infinite amount of ways that a batter could ground into a double play. However, there are some types of GIDP that are much more common than others, including the 6-4-3, the 4-6-3, the 5-4-3, and the 5-6-3.
In these double plays, an infielder fields the ground ball and throws it to someone covering second base for the first out. Whoever was covering second base (either the second baseman or the shortstop) throws to first base for the second out.
Plays in baseball are notated by listing the players who touched the ball and the order in which they touched it. The numbers 1 through 9 are used, and each number represents one of the nine defensive positions on the field.
- Pitcher (1)
- Catcher (2)
- First Base (3)
- Second Base (4)
- Third Base (5)
- Shortstop (6)
- Left Field (7)
- Center Field (8)
- Right Field (9)
Therefore, a 4-6-3 GIDP is when the second baseman fields the ball and throws it to the shortstop, who, in turn, throws the ball to the first baseman. Each of these three players touched the ball, and therefore each is credited for their role in recording the double play.
See Also: What Does 6+4+3=2 Mean in Baseball?
What are the Other Types of Double Plays?
While double plays often come on ground balls, there are many other ways to record a double play. Lineouts also lead to double plays quite frequently, because all runners have to return to their original base after a lineout and they sometimes do not have time to get back to the bag before being thrown out.
The flyout-throwout double play is not so common, but it is very exciting when it does happen. In this play, an outfielder catches a fly ball to record the first out, and then throws out a baserunner trying to tag up and advance a base. Often the runner is trying to get home and this double play attempt ends in a play at the plate.
Another type is the strikeout-throwout double play, often referred to as a “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out”. In this play, the pitcher throws strike three to the batter and then the catcher throws out a runner trying to steal a base. This is a more unique type of double play, because the batter does not even need to hit the ball for it to take place.
Which Hitter Has the Most GIDP in Baseball?
The all-time leader in GIDP in Major League Baseball is Albert Pujols. Pujols is the only player in MLB history with more than 400 GIDP. It is interesting that Pujols is the all-time leader in GIDP, because Pujols is also considered one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.
In recent years, MVP-winning first baseman José Abreu of the Chicago White Sox has the most GIDP. Abreu has led the league in GIDP in each of the past three seasons: 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Which Pitcher Has the Most GIDP in Baseball?
The all-time leader in GIDP for pitchers is Tommy John, who played from 1963 to 1989. John induced 604 GIDP from hitters he faced. No other pitcher in MLB history has induced even 500 GIDP from opposing hitters.
Among active pitchers, Zack Greinke has the most GIDP with 247. He has been good at inducing GIDP throughout his career, and he has also been playing for longer than most other active pitchers.
What is a Lot of GIDP for a Hitter in a Single Season?
A very high GIDP in a single season for a hitter is anything over 20. Every year, there are usually around ten to fifteen hitters with 20 or more GIDP.
In MLB history, just sixteen different players have grounded into 30 or more double plays in a season. Hall of Famer Jim Rice is the only player to have done so multiple times – and he did it thrice: in 1983, 1984, and 1985. Jim Rice grounded into 36 double plays in 1984, the most ever in a single season.
What is a Lot of GIDP for a Pitcher in a Single Season?
Similarly, the very best pitchers at inducing GIDP will record about 20 GIDP in a single season. The highest single season total for GIDP induced by a pitcher is 47, recorded by Gaylord Perry in 1973.
Only ten pitchers have ever recorded more than 40 GIDP in a single season, and only one – Tommy John – has done it twice.
Why Do Good Hitters Ground Into So Many Double Plays?
While it may seem counterintuitive, it is actually quite common for good hitters to ground into double plays. For one thing, these hitters tend to hit the ball very hard. The harder a ball is hit, the faster it reaches a fielder, and therefore the more time the fielder has to turn a double play.
Furthermore, good hitters are simply more likely to put the ball in play – because they are good at hitting the ball. The more balls that a hitter puts in play, the more likely it is that some of them will result in double plays.