Central Processing – Doubles


Last week we covered a pitching statistic, so this week I’m taking a look at an offensive statistic.  I chose doubles because, in my opinion, they are generally underappreciated, and because I love them for some weird reason.  Give me a triple or double over a home run any day of the week.

With that out of the way, I elected to examine each team’s top five finishers in the stat as well as the team totals for the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons.  Team record and finish in the division are also listed under the team totals.  You just might be surprised how the Royals stack up against the competition this season.  A quick heads up before I go any further, the topic of doubles will probably come up again.  After writing this piece, I have decided that two and a half seasons did not do the stat or my curiosity justice so stay tuned.

2007 Team Totals:
Detroit Tigers (352) [88-74 2nd Place]
Cleveland Indians (305) [96-60 1st Place]
Kansas City Royals (300) [69-93 5th Place]
Minnesota Twins (273) [79-83 3rd Place]
Chicago White Sox (249) [72-90 4th Place]

2007 Team Top 5 Contributors
Detroit Tigers (194):  Ordonez (54), Granderson (38), Polanco (36), C.Guillen (35), I.Rodriguez (31)
Cleveland Indians (166):  V.Martinez (40), C.Blake (36), Sizemore (34), Garko (29), Peralta (27)
Minnesota Twins (162):  T.Hunter (45), Morneau (31), Kubel (31), Cuddyer (28), Mauer (27)
Kansas City Royals (153):  A.Gordon (36), Gruzielanek (32), Teahen (31), DeJesus (29), Tony Pena Jr (25)
Chicago White Sox (129):  Dye (34), Konerko (34), Pierzynski (24), Thome (19), Uribe (18)

2008 Team Totals:
Cleveland Indians (339) [81-81 3rd Place]
Kansas City Royals (303) [75-87 4th Place]
Minnesota Twins (398) [88-75 2nd Place]
Chicago White Sox (296) [89-74 1st Place]
Detroit Tigers (293) [74-88 5th Place]

2008 Team Top 5 Contributors
Cleveland Indians (168):  Peralta (42), Sizemore (39), Francisco (32), Choo (28), Shoppach (27)
Kansas City Royals (160):  J.Guillen (42), Gordon (35), Teahen (31), Aviles (27), DeJesus (25)
Minnesota Twins (159):  Morneau (47), Mauer (31), Harris (29), Young (28), Gomez (24)
Chicago White Sox (159):  Dye (41), O.Cabrera (33), Pierzynski (31), Thome (28), Quentin (26)
Detroit Tigers (157):  M.Cabrera (36), Polanco (34), Ordonez (32), C.Guillen (29), Granderson (26)

2009 Team Totals:
Cleveland Indians (143) [31-45 5th Place]
Minnesota Twins (124) [38-38 2nd Place]
Kansas City Royals (122) [31-42 4th Place]
Detroit Tigers (107) [41-33 1st Place]
Chicago White Sox (102) [36-38 3rd Place]

2009 Team Top 5 Contributors
Kansas City Royals (78):  Butler (20), Callaspo (19), DeJesus (14), Teahen (14), Jacobs (11)
Minnesota Twins (75):  Morneau (20), Cuddyer (16), Kubel (16), Mauer (12), Crede (11)
Cleveland Indians (71):  V.Martinez (18), Francisco (14), A.Cabrera (13), DeRosa (13), Peralta (13)
Detroit Tigers (59):  Polanco (18), M.Cabrera (14), Everett (9), Inge (9), Ordonez (9)
Chicago White Sox (51):  Konerko (15), Dye (12), Getz (8), Pierzynski (8), Podsednik (8)

That is a lot of data. So what does it tell us?

First and most importantly, the number of doubles a team hits obviously does not have any bearing on where a team finishes in terms of wins and losses.  I only examined two and a half seasons of data, but I will go out on a limb and suggest that there is absolutely no correlation between the number of doubles a team hits and eventual W-L record of that team.  That is really hard for me to swallow, since I was hoping to unearth some under the radar correlation to help justify my affinity to the statistic.

Second, these numbers suggest that teams move up and down in the rankings very slowly from year to year.  With the exception of Detroit, no team in the division has moved more than one spot in the rankings between seasons.  In 2007 the Tigers finished 1st in the division with 352 team doubles and 1st in terms of their top 5 with 194.  At the end of the 2008 season the Tigers were dead last in both categories.  Their drastic change in their fortunes is simply out of place.  The other teams didn’t significantly improve their totals and 80% of Detroit’s top 5 was intact both seasons.  The only difference was the addition of Miguel Cabrera in 2008 who replaced Ivan Rodriguez in their top 5.  In 2007 they finished 2nd in the division and were the preseason favorite to win the AL Central heading into 2008.  We all watched them collapse to a last place finish last season, but it is interesting to note that their collapse shows up in such a simple statistic as 2B.

Third, the Chicago White Sox play in a shoe box where fly balls and potential doubles end up being home runs.  Despite having very good offensive players, they Sox have finished 5th, 4th, and 5th over the last three seasons.  Some of this can be attributed to roster composition but US Cellular Field definitely impacts their ability hit doubles.

Fourth, in terms of doubles, the Royals are doing just fine.  They are 2nd in the division in terms of team totals, but their top 5 total of 78 ranks them 1st.  With a healthy Alex Gordon in the 1st half things could look even better.  He may not be living up to the lofty expectations of franchise savior, but Gordon has been an excellent doubles hitter early on in his career.  In 2007 he led the Royals with 36, and his 35 doubles in 2008 finished second on the team to Jose Guillen’s 42.  Billy Butler is currently on pace to hit 44 doubles & Albert Callaspo is on pace to hit 42.  If both players maintain those paces, they would finish the year tied for 7th and 10th respectively on the Royals all-time single season list.  The franchise record of 54 by Hal McRae in 1977 will remain safe for at least another season, but 2nd place on the list could be in jeopardy.  The 2nd place mark of 46 is held by Hal McRae (1982) and Mike Sweeney (2001).  It is feasible that Butler or Callaspo could equal or surpass that total.  My money is on Butler, but it is hard to ignore what Alberto is doing at the plate this year.

So there you have it.  Two editions of Central Processing in the books and in both cases the Royals are at or near the top of the divisional rankings.  We’ve established that rotation ERA and doubles are not the problem.  Ignoring the defensively-challenged white elephant in the room we will look at another stat next week in our attempt to find out where the Royals are lacking compared to their divisional competition.