Sunday, December 16, 2007

Most Career GIDP by a Leadoff Hitter Since 1957

It's harder for the players occupying the first spot in a team's batting order to ground into a double play than anybody else. Logically this makes sense since at least once a game it is impossible for them to do it. Also, the leadoff man in a given batting order usually tends to be fast so it seems harder for the opposing team to turn a double play with him running to first. Even so, leadoff hitters still ground into double plays sometimes and, if they play enough, also can end up with some pretty high career GIDP totals.

The Baseball-Reference Play Index lets us look up all the double plays since 1957 that have been started by the hitter occupying his team's #1 spot in the lineup so it comes down to counting names. I've listed the players with 50 or more GIDP while in the leadoff spot with their number of career plate appearances batting first next to it. While it doesn't tell us much about their ability to avoid/ground into double plays, the plate appearances column does let us know how long it took a player to reach his career total; someone with a high total PA relative to the players around him might indicate someone with above-average luck (or teammates with low on-base skills). To help show that the last column is the number of plate appearances per GIDP.

Most Career GIDP While in the Leadoff Spot Since 1957

RankNameGIDPPA in Leadoff SpotPA/GIDP
1Rickey Henderson1711312276.7
2Pete Rose1581071067.8
3Eric Young110574852.3
4Paul Molitor103729170.8
5Shannon Stewart92539658.7
6Kenny Lofton88792990.1
7Chuck Knoblauch87596468.6

Tony Taylor87542162.3
9Luis Aparicio86574066.7
10Tony Phillips84648977.3
11Steve Sax83502860.6

Wade Boggs83436152.5
13Lou Brock818653106.8
14Willie Randolph78405952.0
15Tim Raines76651485.7

Davey Lopes76471062.0
17Maury Wills74690093.2
18Ron LeFlore72475666.1

Luis Polonia72449362.4
20Horace Clarke71467965.9
21Craig Biggio707297104.2
22Bert Campaneris68657196.6
23Al Bumbry67517777.3
24Dave Cash65441567.9
25Otis Nixon63507880.6

Rick Burleson63277244.0
27Dan Gladden62366259.1
28David Eckstein60394265.7
29Willie Wilson596350107.6
30Don Kessinger56527694.2
31Brett Butler558432153.3

Pat Kelly55290952.9
33Johnny Damon546553121.4
34Marquis Grissom53347165.5
35Fernando Vina52404077.7

Luis Castillo52398076.5
37Tommy Harper515238102.7

Lou Whitaker51426883.7
39Rafael Furcal50468093.6

The bolded players are still active. Brett Butler and Johnny Damon seem to be better than average at avoiding double plays; I'm not sure if it's because they don't have many career plate appearances in double play situations or if it's because they really are/were skilled at avoiding ground balls in those situations.

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