Billy Butler is closing in on the all-time record for double plays

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Royals first baseman Billy Butler is having a very nice season, hitting .308/.379/.456 with 46 extra-base hits and nearly as many walks (53) as strikeouts (56) as a 24-year-old, but he’s also closing in on a dubious record.
Butler has grounded into 26 double plays, which is the most in baseball this season, ties the Royals’ franchise record, and puts him on pace to come up just short of the all-time record of 36 by Jim Rice in 1984. Rice also holds the second spot on the list with 35 double plays in 1985, and right now Butler is on pace for 34.
Butler offered a good explanation when asked about his DP total:

You hit a lot of hard balls on the ground and you don’t run very well. It’s a bad combination. It’s inevitable. My strikeouts are down, so I’m getting more contact, so the odds are higher for that. It’s one of those things that’s going to happen. Double plays are part of the game.

Many people assume that double plays come primarily from someone being a slow runner, but in reality that’s merely one factor. For instance, Jim Thome has been one of the slowest players in baseball for 20 years now, yet has grounded into just 9.5 double plays per 150 games.
Thome is slow, but he also puts very few balls in play thanks to tons of homers, walks, and strikeouts, and when he does put the ball in play it’s in the air a very high percentage of the time. Butler, on the other hand, compounds his lack of speed with a low strikeout rate that leads to lots of balls in play and has one of the league’s highest ground-ball rates. He’s also right-handed, which is a little icing on the double play cake.
Butler is still having a good year despite all the double plays, but they do make his production less valuable than it initially appears. He’s grounded into 15 more double plays than the average hitter would in his 523 plate appearances, and if you take those 15 “extra” outs and subtract them from his .308 batting average and .379 on-base percentage it would leave him hitting .275 with a .349 OBP instead.
The lesson here? As always, Jim Rice shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.

Sean Manaea has a no-hitter through eight innings

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UPDATE (11:06 PM ET): Manaea is through eight innings of his no-hitter. He caught Rafael Devers looking, then induced a pop-up to retire Sandy Leon and whiffed Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning. He’s at 95 pitches and a career-high 10 strikeouts entering the ninth.

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Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea has no-hit the Red Sox through seven innings of Saturday’s game. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea held the Sox to just three total baserunners through the first seven innings.

Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning, collecting an infield hit for what appeared to be the Red Sox’ first hit of the evening. Upon further review, however, the hit was reversed after Benintendi incurred a batter interference call for running outside the baseline.

Manaea is currently working with a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth. He’s racked up eight strikeouts against 23 batters so far.

If Manaea sees the no-hitter through to completion — as seems entirely possible, given that his pitch count is resting at 84 entering the eighth — he’ll be the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter, meanwhile, was back in 1993 against the Mariners’ Chris Bosio.