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During his current 10-game hitting streak, Martin Prado has struck out only twice. He has also, however, grounded into 6 double plays in that span. That made me curious. Who was the last hitter to qualify for a batting title while having more GIDPs than strikeouts?

Since 1933 (when GIDPs began being tracked), this feat has been done 55 times by 29 different players. The all-time king in this category is Ernie Lombardi

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, who had 9 different qualified seasons with more GIDPs than strikeouts. Nellie Fox
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had 5 such seasons; Don Mueller
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, George Kell
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, and Frank McCormick
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all had 3.

As you might expect in this era of huge strikeout totals, this feat has become increasingly rare. It was done 15 times in the 30′s, 22 times in the 40′s, and 10 times in the 50′s. Since 1960, though, it’s only been done 8 times. Here are those 8 seasons:

Rk Player Year GIDP SO Tm G PA AB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Tony Gwynn
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1995 20 15 SDP
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135 577 535 .368 .404 .484 .888
2 Tony Gwynn
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1994 20 19 SDP
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110 475 419 .394 .454 .568 1.022
3 Bill Buckner
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1981 17 16 CHC
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106 453 421 .311 .349 .480 .829
4 Rich Dauer
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1980 22 19 BAL
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152 618 557 .284 .338 .352 .690
5 Dave Cash
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1976 16 13 PHI
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160 727 666 .284 .337 .345 .683
6 Nellie Fox
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1962 13 12 CHW
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157 684 621 .267 .314 .343 .657
7 Nellie Fox
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1961 17 12 CHW
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159 696 606 .251 .323 .295 .618
8 Vic Power
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1961 19 16 CLE
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147 622 563 .268 .309 .369 .679
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/19/2011.

The three most recent seasons were all strike-shortened, too, so they must come with caveats. However, I think it’s fair to say that Gwynn’s 1995 season would certainly have still qualified in a full year; he amassed nearly 600 PA and had 5 more GIDPs than strikeouts, which is the best differential since Fox’s 1961 season.

Aside from Gwynn, the last player to have more GIDP than strikeouts is Bill Buckner, who is of course a bit more famous for something that happened later in his career.

Which players have come closest to doing it since Gwynn last did it in 1995? Here are the only 3 players to even come close:

Rk Player Year GIDP SO Tm G PA AB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 A.J. Pierzynski
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2004 27 27 SFG
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131 510 471 .272 .319 .410 .729
2 Carlos Baerga
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1996 23 27 CLE
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/NYM
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126 544 507 .254 .293 .381 .674
3 Tony Gwynn
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1998 14 18 SDP
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127 505 461 .321 .364 .501 .865
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/19/2011.

Pierzynski came oh-so-close to joining this illustrious club in 2004. He just needed one more GIDP or one fewer strikeout. Gwynn’s 1998 season was the closest he came to matching the glories of 1994 and ’95, but it was still a good ways from qualifying.

Who has the best chance of threatening Gwynn this season? Here are all the players with at least 70 PA and less than twice as many strikeouts as GIDPs:

Rk Player Year GDP SO Tm G PA AB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Albert Pujols
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2011 13 18 STL
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44 193 171 .269 .337 .415 .752
2 Yadier Molina
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2011 8 14 STL
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38 146 133 .323 .361 .466 .827
3 Chris Denorfia
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2011 7 9 SDP
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34 80 74 .351 .400 .541 .941
4 Placido Polanco
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2011 7 10 PHI
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42 179 160 .331 .374 .425 .799
5 John Jaso
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2011 5 9 TBR
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31 91 83 .217 .286 .373 .659
6 A.J. Pierzynski
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2011 5 7 CHW
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38 144 134 .254 .289 .306 .595
7 Marco Scutaro
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2011 3 4 BOS
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23 76 68 .235 .316 .309 .625
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
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: View Play Index Tool Used
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Generated 5/19/2011.

If I had to place bets, I’d bet on Polanco–he’s the current king of not striking out, and he’s only 3 GIDPs off the pace. Pierzynski, as we saw in 2004, is a strong threat as well. My worry with him is that if he keeps hitting like this, he really shouldn’t get enough PA to qualify for a batting title. Pujols and Molina should keep hitting into lots of double plays, but their strikeout numbers will go up even more.

Overall, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone will do it this year, or any time in the near future. One more reason to celebrate the amazing, anachronistic career of Tony Gwynn.

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One Response to More Double Plays Hit Into Than Strikeouts

  1. Tyree says:

    Good Job man. You a fool with the numbers.

    Reply
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