Last night against Kansas City, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen induced three ground ball double plays. Those three double plays gave him 10 for the season so far, equaling the number he threw in all of 2012.
It took Chen just 42 innings to induce as many GDPs as he had in 192 innings last season.
I did some further research after seeing this statistic last night, but to be honest, I don’t really have any answers for you.
While Chen has slightly increased his ground ball percentage from his rookie year (31.1% to 37.1%), this doesn’t really explain his throwing GDPs at 4.5 times the rate he did last season.
Chen’s teammate Jason Hammel has thrown six GDPs this year in 41.2 IP, after getting just eight last year in 118.0 IP, and his GB% is actually down to 44.4% from 53.2%.
As a team, the Birds are turning 1.09 double plays per game, good for fourth in MLB (Houston is first at 1.27). That’s up from 0.95 per game in 2012, when they were still a respectable ninth in MLB.
One possible explanation is the overall improvement in the O’s defense. On one of the GDPs last night, for instance, Manny Machado ranged to his left to stab the grounder before turning and firing to start the 5-4-3. Any O’s fan who watched the team early last year has no problem imagining Mark Reynolds or Wilson Betemit completely butchering that play.
Whatever the reason, the twin killing has been a bigger part of the O’s success so far in 2013 than it was i 2012. While Chen is one glaring example, he’s not the only one benefiting.
As long as the O’s keep having more runs than the other team after 27 outs, I really don’t care how many of those 27 outs come two-at-a-time. But it’s something interesting to keep an eye on.