With 13 games left in the Chicago White Sox's regular season, leadoff man Alejandro De Aza has a shot at a rare achievement.
If De Aza can go the rest of the regular season without grounding into a double play, he'll become just the fifth batting-title qualified player since 1942 to go an entire season without a GIDP on his ledger.
The last player to accomplish this feat was Craig Biggio with the 1997 Houston Astros. Rob Deer (1990 Milwaukee Brewers), Dick McAuliffe (1968 Detroit Tigers) and Pete Reiser (1942 Brooklyn Dodgers) are on the list behind him. Play-by-play records before 1940 are incomplete, so there's no telling who might also have achieved the honor before that.
De Aza's emergence as a solid leadoff man has been part of the reason the White Sox have held first place in the AL Central for so long. Through 124 games and 555 plate appearances, the 28-year-old center fielder is hitting .279/.344/.401 with eight homers, 28 doubles and 49 RBIs. He's come to the plate 61 times with a runner at first and less than two outs and a healthy (though not insane) BABIP of .304 has helped him from ever producing two outs with one swing of the bat in 2012. Still, there's a little bit of luck at play considering De Aza has laid down three sacrifice bunts and hit a normal .296/.345/.389 with a runner on first.
Compare that to Biggio's 1997 campaign, which saw the possible Hall of Famer make a lot more plate appearances (744) and hit an otherworldly .403/.487/.677 (with a .404 BABIP and no sac bunts) in the 78 plate appearances he made with a runner on first.
Leadoff men, of course, are always going to have a better shot at this mark considering they're guaranteed at least one at-bat without anyone on first. They're also promised a good chance at a few more when the lineup flips from the weaker back-end and often have the speed to beat out the relay throw to first. It's this dynamic which really underscores Rob Deer's reputation as the truest of the "three true outcomes" players and makes his appearance on this list an impressive — or at least curious — one.
Still, it's a nice blend of achievement and luck for anyone to go through an entire season without grounding into a double play and we'll see if De Aza gets there. He's already shown a proclivity for avoiding the double play, notching only four GIDPs in 264 career games.
By the way, it should be noted that grounding into a high number of double plays can sometimes be excused. Miguel Cabrera leads all of baseball with 28 in 2012 and he's being discussed as an AL MVP candidate.
Big BLS H/N: Reddit
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