Tampa Bay has someone leading the league in hitting (Jason Bartlett), doubles (Evan Longoria), home runs (Carlos Pena), RBIs (Longoria), walks (Pena), stolen bases (Carl Crawford), extra base hits (Longoria), batting average vs. lefties (Akinori Iwamura) and hardest to double up (Carl Crawford) and as a team they lead the league in runs scored. And they are three games under .500.
The only name on that list that surprises us is Carl Crawford leading the league with zero double-plays grounded into. How strange is it? You might be surprised to learn that Crawford, despite his speed and left-handed bat, normally is prodigious when it comes to GIDPs.
In 2007, Crawford stole 50 bases and grounded into 11 double-plays. In the last 20 years only 8 players have stolen at least 50 bases and grounded into more double plays, and only one of those had more than 13. Three times in his career he has grounded into at least 10 double-plays in a season, including 10 last year despite only playing 109 games.
What is different this year? It has to be more than his healthy legs. Certainly he hasn’t had bad hamstrings his entire career.
This is where we are supposed to pull some statistic out of our butt to magically explain why CC has yet to ground into a double-play this season.
First we thought it might be fewer ground balls this season. After all, CC has always had a high ground ball rate (49.6% for his career). Well, this season it is 49.7%. So that is not the answer.
Maybe he has fewer plate appearances with a runner on first base. In 2008 he came to the plate 155 times with runners on 1st, 1st and 2nd, 1st and 3rd or the bases loaded, or about 1.42 per game. This year it is 1.21 times per game. Less? Yes. But enough to explain the steep decline in GIDPs? Not likely.
In fact, we got nothin’. Maybe Crawford really is in the best shape of his career and maybe at age 27, he is actually a step faster than he was at age 23. Or maybe it is that mythical stat that some use to explain anything out of the norm of statistical reason: Luck*.
Whatever the answer, we are just glad that we have not yet had to watch one of the fastest players in baseball hit into yet another 4-6-3.
*as one person pointed out, this would be improper usage of the “luck” statistic because luck is never a positive stat for the Rays. The Rays are only ever “unlucky.”
So how about this? [Joe Posnanski]