Rob Neyer of ESPN.com posts a Reds’ related story from 1957 about what could be called a “strategic” way of breaking up the double play. You’ll need to read through the Alfonso Soriano portion of the posting (relating speed to outfield defense), but then you’ll find a very interesting Reds piece about a (now illegal) way of preventing double plays.
For the record, this year’s Reds are 6th in the National League in GIDP with 18 despite the feeling that we’re cursed with this anomaly. The San Francisco Giants have grounded into a whopping 31 double plays thus far through 26 games (the Reds have played 28). Orlando Cabrera and Scott Rolen have both hit into four double plays, and Ryan Hanigan has grounded into three. Cabrera and Rolen are tied for seventh in the league in this category (the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval has already hit into EIGHT double plays this year!!). Brandon Phillips somehow has hit into only two double plays so far. He still has time to assume his normal spot amongst National League leaders. Oh…but Cabrera does have five sacrifice flies. The Reds are tied for the National League lead in sacrifice flies, for those that find that bit of trivia important.
The Reds had a tremendous offense in the mid-1950’s. Having hit 221 home runs in 1956 (second in franchise history to 2005’s 222), the Reds led the National League by averaging 5.00 runs per game. Their team ERA was 3.85 which was a little better than average (they allowed 4.25 runs per game overall). In 1957, however, their offense dropped just a bit, down to 4.85 runs per game (a little behind the Milwaukee Braves), and the Reds’ pitching staff disintegrated, allowing 5.07 runs per game (ERA of 4.62). They needed to bat as much as possible, and double plays removed baserunners. The Reds’ record was 91-63 in 1956 and dropped to 80-74 in the 1957.
Now, that’s creating havoc on the basepaths.