So the other day I was pondering the Angels' strong advantage with the double play -- last year the team led all of baseball in turning 174 double plays, while grounding into just 128, or the 4th-fewest in the American League (despite producing a crapload of baserunners). This took me to a rather remarkable little factoid: Do you know how many double plays Jeff Mathis has grounded into, during his 5-year career?Six.
Which is also weird because I already knew that Mike Napoli, like many of the players he most closely resembles (Tom Haller, Ed Bailey, Duke Sims), doesn't ground into any double plays -- just 16 in 1096 ABs (for reference, 43 major leaguers grounded into more than that just last year). In fact, if you add up the careers of Mathis and Napoli, you get fewer GIDPs (22), than sacrifice flies (25), over 1845 ABs. How rare is that?
This rare -- only three players in Major League history with 20 of each have had more sacrifice flies than double plays. They are: Darren Daulton, Gary Redus, and Don Buford. Two very fast sonsabitches, and one Napoli-type catcher.
What does it all mean? Besides "not much, honestly" it means that the Angels were last in all of baseball in GIDPs from the catcher position in 2009 and 2008 (with a miniscule 5 both years), 3rd-to-last in 2007 (12), and again last in 2006 (8). Bengie Molina has grounded into more than twice as many double plays the past four years than 648 games' worth of Angel catchers combined. During that time, we've averaged from the position 26 doubles, 22 homers, 73 runs, 75 RBIs, and 59 walks per year. With Napoli 28 years old and Mathis 27, they should be in or entering their offensive prime.
Tell me again why I should be upset about our two-catchers situation?