Royal Blues

March 16, 2010 12:54 PM

Countdown to Opening Day: 20 JR House GIDP

Spring training action has started in Surprise, but there's still a lot of time between now and Opening Day. I'll be counting down the days with a collection of random Royals-related numbers. Most of them mean nothing - this isn't supposed to be a groundbreaking series of research - but they'll hopefully make the days go faster until April 5.

20 Days = 20 GIDP by J.R. House in Omaha

This is another one of those days where the "most of them mean nothing" part of the intro is important to keep in mind. But I just thought it was stunning that one person could hit into so many double plays. Sure, House had more playing time than almost any other O-Royal, but the spike in GIDP is not proportional to the number of plate appearances.

Let's look at the #2 on the list, Mario Lisson, for comparison. At the rate at which Lisson hit into DPs, it would have taken him 610 plate appearances to get to 20. Or we could look at Kila Ka'aihue, the 3rd most-prolific GIDP guy in Omaha last year. Kila played more than any other O-Royal, so it's no surprise he would rack up lots of other counting stats. But at the rate he ground into DPs last year, it would have taken him over 1,000 plate appearances to match House's number.
1 J.R. House 127 544 505 20
2 Mario Lisson 95 366 339 12
3 Kila Ka'aihue* 131 555 441 11
4 Scott Thorman* 97 405 367 10
5 Travis Metcalf 110 436 388 9
6 Irving Falu# 122 532 465 9
7 Tug Hulett* 99 442 374 8
8 Brian Buchanan 37 129 122 7
9 Luis Hernandez# 55 223 198 6
10 Cory Aldridge* 98 385 354 6
11 Brayan Pena# 22 98 88 5
58 Players 144 5465 4828 124
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 3/16/2010.

Again, this doesn't mean a whole lot - especially since House signed with the Braves last month. The number just stood out to me. And GIDP is not a skill that a batter can learn to avoid. It's dependent on a TON of other factors - whether there is a man on first, how many outs there are, where the defense is playing, whether the shortstop can get it out of his glove fast enough to start the DP, and a hundred other things. House wasn't the team leader in GIDP because he's worse at something than all of his other teammates. No, he led the team in GIDP because the factors were just right (or just wrong) for him more often than anyone else.

Sure, a guy who hits an absurdly high number of ground balls might be more likely to ground into double plays, but that doesn't really explain this particular case. If you look at House's GIDP rate - 20 in 544 plate appearances - compared to Ka'aihues - 11 in 555 PAs - there's a big difference in frequency of GIDPs, right? But both men had similar ground ball rates last year, and similar line drive rates.

               GB%    LD%
Ka'aihue   39.6    18.7
House      43.3.    19.9

House did hit more ground balls, but not enough to entirely explain all those extra double plays. Dumb luck pretty well accounts for the rest.

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