Double play

This article is about the baseball play. For double play magnetic tape, see Audio tape specifications. For the jazz album, see Double Play!

In baseball, a double play (denoted as DP in baseball statistics) is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. Double plays are relatively common, as they can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and less than two outs.

During the 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season, the league average for double plays completed by each team during the course of a 162-game season was 145[1] – nearly one per game by each team.


After stepping on second base, the fielder throws to first to complete a double play

The simplest scenario for a double play is a runner on first base with less than two outs. In that context, four example double plays are:

  • to a middle infielder, who throws the ball to the other middle infielder, who steps on second base to force out the runner coming from first (first out), and then throws the ball to the first baseman in time to force out the batter (second out). As both outs are made by force plays, this is referred to as a "force double play".[2]
  • to the first baseman, who steps on first base to force out the batter (first out), and with the baserunner trying to advance from first base to second base, throws the ball to the shortstop who tags the runner before he reaches second base (second out). As the force out at first base removed the force condition at second base (requiring that out to be made with a tag), this is referred to as a "reverse force double play".[2]
  • a line drive to the first baseman, who catches it (first out), and then steps on first base before the baserunner can return to first to tag up (second out). This is also an example of an unassisted double play.
  • a deep fly ball to the right fielder, who catches it (first out), meanwhile the baserunner tags up and attempts to advance, and the outfielder throws the ball to the shortstop who tags the runner before he reaches second base (second out).

The force double play is the most commonly seen double play, however double plays can occur in many ways in addition to the noted examples, and can involve many combinations of defensive players or even special circumstances (for example, interference).

Record keeping

Per standard baseball positions, the examples given above would be recorded, respectively, as:

  • 4-6-3 (second baseman to shortstop to first baseman) or 6-4-3 (shortstop to second baseman to first baseman)
  • 3-6 (first baseman to shortstop)
  • 3 (first baseman), unassisted
  • 9-6 (right fielder to shortstop)

Double plays that are initiated by a batter hitting a ground ball are recorded in baseball statistics as GIDP (grounded into double play) – this statistic has been tracked since 1933 in the National League and since 1939 in the American League.[3]


Highly desirable to the fielding team and highly undesirable to the batting team, a double play can prove critical to the outcome of a specific game. The fielding team is likely to change pitch selection and defensive alignment to try and get a batter to ground into a force double play. Pitchers may throw pitches more likely to be hit as a ground ball – such as a sinker – while fielders can be positioned to make a ground ball more likely to be turned into a double play. Likewise, the batting team may take action – such as a hit and run play – to reduce the chance of grounding into a force double play.


In baseball slang, making a double play is referred to as "turning two" or a "twin killing". Double plays are also known as "the pitcher's best friend" because they disrupt offense more than any other play, except for the rare triple play. A force double play made on a ground ball hit to the third baseman, who throws to the second baseman, who then throws to the first baseman, is referred to as an "around the horn" double play. A "strike 'em out, throw 'em out" double play occurs when a base runner is caught stealing immediately after the batter strikes out. The ability to "make the pivot" on a force double play – receiving a throw from the third base side, then quickly turning and throwing to first base – is a key skill for a second baseman.

Tinker to Evers to Chance

The most famous double play trio – although they never set any records – were Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, who played shortstop, second baseman and first baseman, respectively, for the Chicago Cubs between 1902 and 1912.[4] Their double play against the New York Giants in a 1910 game inspired Giants fan Franklin Pierce Adams to write the short poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon, otherwise known as Tinker to Evers to Chance, which immortalized the trio.[5] All three players were part of the Cubs team that won the National League pennant in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910, and the World Series in 1907 and 1908, turning 491 double plays on the way.[6] They were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.[5]

Odd and notable double plays

  • A very similar 9-4-2 double play occurred on October 4, 2006, in Game 1 of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. After Russell Martin hit a single to right field, both Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew were tagged out at the plate by catcher Paul Lo Duca.[11][12]
  • During the April 12, 2008, game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, in the top of the 7th inning the Boston infield was shifted right for New York left-handed power hitter Jason Giambi, with a baserunner on first. Giambi grounded to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who threw to third baseman Kevin Youkilis, covering second due to the shift. Youkilis tagged second, then threw to first baseman Sean Casey to complete the rare 4-5-3 double play.[16]
  • The Chicago Cubs turned a 7-2-3 double play against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 2, 2014. Tied 3–3 in the bottom of the 13th inning, the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs. The Cubs then defensively placed left fielder Junior Lake in the infield, near the third base line. Batter Clint Barmes hit a ground ball to Lake, who threw home for one out, and the catcher then threw to first base for the second out.[17][18]

All-time double play leaders by position


Single season

1B - Ferris Fain: 194 (Philadelphia Athletics, 1949)
2B - Bill Mazeroski: 161 (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1966)
SS - Rick Burleson: 147 (Boston Red Sox, 1980)
3B - Graig Nettles: 54 (Cleveland Indians 1971)
LF - Bibb Falk: 9 (Chicago White Sox, 1927) & Alfonso Soriano: 9 (Washington Nationals, 2006)
CF - Happy Felsch: 14 (Chicago White Sox, 1919)
RF - Mel Ott: 12 (New York Giants, 1929) & Chief Wilson: 12 (St. Louis Cardinals, 1914)
C - Steve O’Neill: 36 (Cleveland Indians, 1916)


1B - Mickey Vernon: 2044 (20 seasons)
2B - Bill Mazeroski: 1706 (17 seasons)
SS - Omar Vizquel: 1734 (24 seasons)
3B - Brooks Robinson: 618 (23 seasons)
LF - Bobby Veach: 42 (14 seasons)
CF - Tris Speaker: 107 (22 seasons)
RF - Harry Hooper: 65 (17 seasons)
C - Ray Schalk: 222 (18 seasons)

All-time GIDP leaders

Single season

Jim Rice: 36 (Boston Red Sox, 1984)[20]


Cal Ripken Jr.: 350 (21 seasons)[21]

See also


  1. "2016 Major League Baseball Team Statistics and Standings". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Baseball Rules: 2.00 Definitions of Terms". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
  3. "Yearly League Leaders & Records for Double Plays Grounded Into". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
  4. Singer, Tom. "Power of poem immortalizes Cubs trio". Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  5. 1 2 Hageman, William (July 5, 2010). "Remembering 'Tinker to Evers to Chance'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  6. Schell, Michael J (2013). Baseball's All-Time Best Hitters: How Statistics Can Level the Playing Field. Princeton University Press. p. 181. ISBN 1400850630. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  7. Hoch, Bryan (24 Jul 2016). "Yankees stun Giants with rare DP combo". Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  8. "San Francisco Giants at New York Yankees Play by Play and Boxscore". Baseball Reference. 24 Jul 2016. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  9. "Fisk gets two outs at home plate". YouTube. 17 Feb 2015. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  10. "Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees Play by Play and Boxscore". Baseball Reference. 2 Aug 1985. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  11. "2006 NLDS Gm1: Lo Duca tags out two at the plate". YouTube. 8 Nov 2014. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  12. "Los Angeles Dodges at New York Mets Play by Play and Boxscore". Baseball Reference. 4 Oct 2006. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  13. "Buck Martinez". YouTube. 10 May 2010.
  14. Hughson, Callum (12 May 2010). "Epic Games in Blue Jays History: Buck Martinez Completes a Double Play on a Broken Leg". Mop-Up Duty.
  15. Schoenfield, David (5 Sep 2012). "The greatest play ever made". ESPN.
  16. "New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Play by Play and Boxscore". Baseball Reference. 12 Apr 2008. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  17. "Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Play by Play and Boxscore". Baseball Reference. 2 Apr 2014. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  18. "CHC@PIT: Lake turns the 7-2-3 double play". YouTube. 4 Apr 2014. Retrieved 20 Oct 2016.
  19. "Overall Baseball Leaders & Baseball Records". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
  20. "Single-Season Leaders & Records for Double Plays Grounded Into". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
  21. "Career Leaders & Records for Double Plays Grounded Into". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 22 Oct 2016.
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