What Do the Numbers Mean in a Double Play?

Have you ever watched a baseball game and heard a series of numbers in double play? What do the numbers mean in a double play? If you’re new, then this article is just right tailored for you to get a better understanding of baseball.

What Is Double Play?

A double play is a defensive sequence in which two outs are made on the same play.

In baseball, there are three ways to get a double play:

  1. A ground ball is hit to an infielder who throws it to the base in time to get two runners;
  2. The runner who was on first base is tagged out by the fielder when he tries to steal second base;
  3. The runner attempting to turn a double play is tagged out by the fielder when he tries to beat the throw from second base.

In addition, there are two ways for a double play to start:

  1. A single is hit that goes between the outfielder and shortstop;
  2. An error by the other team occurs during a force out at second base or third base, or during an attempted force at home plate.

A double play consists of four steps:

  1. The second baseman makes the throw to the first baseman
  2. The first baseman makes the tag on the runner’s leg before he gets to first base
  3. The runner is tagged out by the fielder while he is attempting to beat the throw from second base
  4. The third baseman fields a ground ball and throws it to either first or third base depending on where it was hit, for purposes of completing a double play.

Related:

What Do the Numbers Mean in a Double Play

The numbers that are announced in a double play show what the fielders did and the order that events happened. To have a better understanding of these numbers, let’s take a look at 9 positions in baseball.

The Numbers in a Double Play Correspond to the Defensive Position

In baseball, the catcher is the leader of the team. He calls the pitches and he is the one who determines whether or not a pitch was a strike or a ball.

The First baseman is typically shorter than other positions in baseball and he must be quick to catch any balls that go past or over the first baseman’s head.

The Second baseman takes the “middle” ground of the field and he must make sure that he is in position to catch any balls hit to his right or left.

The Third baseman must be able to catch any balls hit to his back or front.

The Shortstop must be alert as he has to make sure that he can prevent any runners from going past him, catching any balls that go over his head.

The Infielders must have quick reflexes and a good knowledge of the rules of baseball to make a double play.

The Outfielders have to have a wide range of knowledge about the game. They should know where the ball is likely to be hit, where each runner is likely to run, and where each fielder is likely to be positioned.

The Pitcher knows how hard he must throw the ball for each batter in his team and what pitch he should throw.

The Batter attempts to hit the ball well enough that it can be caught by an infielder or an outfielder.

It’s better to use numbers instead of using names because the numbers tell the coaches or managers what happened at every point in the play.

For example, if you know that a runner was thrown out at first base, then you know that he went to third base and the count was three balls and one strike. In this case, the runner’s name or number is not as important because his actions are what counts for a double play.

The Order of the Numbers Tells us What Happened

In general, the order of those numbers indicates the sequence of events. A triple play is usually caused by a ground ball to the third baseman, who throws the ball to 2nd base and then catches a hard hit line drive hit to the first baseman.

For example, an infielder is the one who throws first to the second baseman. This means that both runners are thrown out at once by the fielder. After all of the defenders are accounted for, the entire sequence will be called ‘2-3-1’.

What is a 6-4-3 Double Play?

A 6-4-3 double play is one of the most difficult to get in baseball, but it is somewhat easier to hit.

Suppose that a runner on 1st base attempts to steal 2nd base. If the first baseman catches the ball and throws it quickly enough, then he can tag both the runner who was on 1st base and the runner who was on 2nd base. The bases are now loaded with no out, so the next batter would be due to hit a home run to score the three runs and end the inning.

However, if a hard line drive is hit to the first baseman’s left side, then he can position himself to catch the ball and make the 6-4-3 double play. The order of numbers indicates that 2 outs were made before 3 men left their base while 1 out was made before 4 men left their base at 2nd base.

What is a 5-4-3 Double Play?

A 5-4-3 double play is a variation of a 5-4-2 double play.

When there are runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, then a runner from 1st base will usually try to steal 2nd base while the next batter hits the ball to the shortstop. At this point, the shortstop will be able to catch the line drive hit by the batter and throw it quickly enough so that all three men can be thrown out.

When a hard line drive is hit to the right side of the infield, then the second baseman can catch the ball and get both runners out. The order of numbers indicates that 2 outs were made before 3 men left their base while 1 out was made before 4 men left their base at 2nd base.

What is a 4-6-3 Double Play?

A 4-6-3 double play is a variation of a 6-4-3 double play. If there are runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, then the runner from 2nd will try to steal home while the second baseman attempts to get both runners out. However, because a hard line drive is hit to the right side of the infield, then the fielder can catch and throw both runners out at once.

If the fielder is fast enough, then all three men can be thrown out by one throw. The order of numbers indicates that 2 outs were made before 3 men left their base while 1 out was made before 4 men left their base at 2nd base.

What is a 3-2-8 Double Play?

A 3-2-8 double play is an uncommon type of play. When there are runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, the runner from 2nd will attempt to steal home while the second baseman attempts to get both runners out. However, a hard hit ball will be hit to the shortstop’s back and over his head. The fielder can avoid the runner on first and throw both runners out at once.

If a runner on 2nd base attempts to steal home, then the second baseman can throw the ball quickly enough to both runners. The order of numbers indicates that 2 outs were made before 3 men left their base while 1 out was made before 8 men had left their base at 1st base.

Does There Have to Be Three Numbers Listed for a Double Play?

There can be less than three numbers listed, but there will always be at least two numbers.

For example, a hard line drive can be hit to the shortstop who catches it and throws it to the second baseman, but the runner from second base is already at 1st base. Then the order of numbers will tell us that 2 outs were made before 0 men left their base while 1 out was made before 1 man left his base at 2nd base. This means that two runners were thrown out at once and one runner was thrown out.

Conclusion

The numbers in the double play show the position of players and the order of numbers tells us the sequence of events in a double play. In general, the last number is the final number in each sequence of events.

Further reading

From 6-4-3 to 1-2-3 — Ranking the 17 types of double plays