|Altuve Talks To Freddie Freeman During Spring Training (photo property of AppyAstros 2013)|
The major league record for most double plays by a 2nd baseman is 161 by Bill Mazeroski in 1966. The AL record belongs to Jerry Priddy of the Yankees in 1950 with 150. If Altuve gets to the 139, it will be the most double plays by a 2nd baseman since 1957 when Nellie Fox turned 141. Being in the company of Mazeroski and Fox is pretty heady company. Not only are both Hall of Famers; they also
are #1 and #2 in career double plays turned by second baseman. Maz turned 1706 in his career and Fox turned 1619.
Club Record In Easy Reach
In terms of Astros' history, there have only been six seasons by a second baseman where they turned more than 100 double plays.
1999 Craig Biggio 117
1972 Tommy Helms 115
1983 Bill Doran 109
1997 Craig Biggio 108
1985 Bill Doran 108
1973 Tommy Helms 104
The club record is definitely within reach and the AL record is not out of the realm of possibility if Altuve stays healthy for the rest of the season.
If you want to dig deeper, I suggest you go to Altuve's Baseball Reference advanced fielding stats page, so you can see how those 50 double plays have transpired. It tells you how many were 643,543, 43, 463 and line drives.
Double Plays Are A Team Effort
But it is not just Altuve who is having an impressive season turning double plays. Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez currently has participated in 36 double plays. That would put him on pace for 102 for the year. If both cleared 100 double plays, it would mark the third time in franchise history that has happened. The other two times are:
1983 - Dickie Thon (114) & Bill Doran (109)
1972 - Roger Metzger (101) & Tommy Helms (115)
Where Do Double Plays Come From?
All these double plays make me wonder what is behind them. Is it the fact the Astros pitchers are serving up more ground balls? Or is it the infielders are in better position to make the plays due to some of the analytic work by the folks in the baseball operations office? Is it a combination of the two? Is it just sheer luck? What do you think?