Sunday, November 15, 2009

New, Improved Play Index at Baseball Reference

I have to confess that my love for baseball statistics and facts is probably a sickness. I've had guys whom I know to be hard core fans, I mean really hard core, shake their heads over some of the little "studies" that I do just because I can or because somebody has inquired or wondered out loud about some obscure feat. As anyone with more than a passing interest in baseball knows, the mecca for baseball statheads on the web is the amazing Baseball-Reference site. It must be seen to be believed. I was delighted to discover that over the past couple of weeks--I really haven't been there much since the World Series--that substantial improvements have been introduced in the "Play Index" section of the site.

This is the by-subscription area where one can slice and dice the numbers in literally millions of different ways. So just for grins I ran a little query to find games, if there were any, where a team had grounded into six or more double plays in a single game. To my astonishment, I discovered that there has been one game since 1954* in which a team grounded into seven double plays in a 9-inning game in addition to a dozen more in which a team grounded into six double plays. The improvements actually allow me to show you the following table, something that I could not have done just a few months ago.

Teams That Grounded into Six or More Double Plays in a Game
                                   1954-2009

Rk
Date
Tm
Opp
Rslt
GDP
1
1969-05-04
SFG
HOU
L 1-3
7

2
2009-08-07
CLE
CHW
W 6-2
6
3
2009-04-30
TOR
KCR
L 6-8
6
4
2009-04-21
KCR
CLE
L 7-8
6
5
2003-06-17 (1)
TBD
NYY
W 11-2
6
6
2003-05-17
PHI
HOU
W 9-4
6
7
1996-04-16
DET
TOR
W 13-8
6
8
1990-07-18
BOS
MIN
W 5-4
6
9
1988-05-08
MON
HOU
L 2-7
6
10
1984-04-13
BOS
DET
L 9-13
6
11
1975-04-29
CLE
NYY
W 3-1
6
12
1972-05-06
BAL
KCR
L 1-9
6
13
1966-05-01 (1)
BOS
CAL
L 1-6
6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/16/2009.

Baseball's such a weird game. Notice that 3 of the 12 times a team has grounded into six double plays in a game, one-quarter of the total, occurred this past season. Also, this particular event is decidedly something more likely to happen in the American League rather than the National. If you click the dates in the first column, you'll get a box score and play-by-play of these games.

OK, OK. I'll stop. But I promise you, I could go on and on about this. I love this stuff!

*If you're interested in an individual player's numbers for a season or a career, these go all the way back to the beginnings of the game in the 19th century. So, you can find out that Babe Ruth, for example, stole 123 bases in his career, that his best year for stolen bases was 1921 & 1923, when he stole 17. Box scores and play-by-play are available for all games played since 1954. This data allows a fantastic array of different kinds of findings, like a breakout of the circumstances of each of the 34 triples the Dodgers had as a team during the 1963 season, for example. If you want to play around with this wondrous tool, you can access the play index at baseball-reference for free until November 20. 
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