In baseball and softball, a double play (denoted as DP in baseball statistics) is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. Double plays can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and fewer than two outs.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), the double play is defined in the Official Rules in the Definitions of Terms, and for the official scorer in Rule 9.11. During the 2016 Major League Baseball season, teams completed an average 145 double plays per 162 games played during the regular season.
The simplest scenario for a double play is a runner on first base with less than two outs. In that context, five example double plays are:
Double plays can occur in many ways in addition to these examples, and can involve many combinations of fielders. A double play can include an out resulting from a rare event, such as interference or an appeal play.
Per standard baseball positions, the examples given above are recorded, respectively, as:
Double plays that are initiated by a batter hitting a ground ball are recorded in baseball statistics as GIDP (grounded into double play). This statistic has been tracked since 1933 in the National League and since 1939 in the American League. This statistic does not include line-outs into double plays, for which there is no official statistic for a batter.
The double play is a coup for the fielding team and debilitating to the batting team. The fielding team can select pitches to induce a double play — such as a sinker, which is more likely to be hit as a ground ball — and can position fielders to make a ground ball more likely to be turned into a double play. The batting team may take action — such as a hit and run play — to reduce the chance of grounding into a force double play.
In baseball slang, making a double play is referred to as "turning two" or a "twin killing" (a play on "twin billing", a moviehouse offering two features on the same ticket). Double plays are also known as "the pitcher's best friend" because they disrupt offense more than any other play, except for the rare triple play. A force double play made on a ground ball hit to the third baseman, who throws to the second baseman, who then throws to the first baseman, is referred to as an "around the horn" double play.
The ability to "make the pivot" on a force double play – receiving a throw from the third base side, then quickly turning and throwing to first base – is a key skill for a second baseman.
The most famous double play trio—although they never set any records—were Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, who were the shortstop, second baseman and first baseman, respectively, for the Chicago Cubs between 1902 and 1912. Their double play against the New York Giants in a 1910 game inspired Giants fan Franklin Pierce Adams to write the short poem Baseball's Sad Lexicon, otherwise known as Tinker to Evers to Chance, which immortalized the trio. All three players were part of the Cubs team that won the National League pennant in 1906, 1907, 1908, and 1910, and the World Series in 1907 and 1908, turning 491 double plays on the way. They were elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
Jim Rice: 36 (Boston Red Sox, 1984)
Albert Pujols: 412 (through September 21, 2021)
The team record for a single game is seven GIDPs. It was set by the San Francisco Giants, who grounded into seven double plays on May 4, 1969, in a 3–1 loss to the Houston Astros. The Pittsburgh Pirates suffered seven double plays (only six GIDPs) on August 17, 2018, in a 1–0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The 1990 Boston Red Sox grounded into 174 double plays to set the single season team record.