There are approximately 4,000 double plays completed each season. One of the rarest varieties is the 3-2-3, which happens mostly in bases loaded situations, with the first baseman throwing to the catcher and then receiving the return throw to first.
Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila pulled off a nifty 3-2-3, bases loaded double play during the ninth inning of last night’s ALCS game. Cabrera fielded a Mitch Moreland grounder just on the grass in front of first and fired to Avila to force out Adrian Beltre at home. Avila then gave himself a clear lane to throw in (avoiding pegging Moreland with the relay) and threw a dart back to Cabrera. The throw was inside the basepath and off the base, but Cabrera caught it and swipe-tagged Moreland just before Moreland reached the bag.
If you remember game seven of the 1991 World Series, the Twins pulled off a similar twin-killing (no pun intended). With one out and the bases loaded, Atlanta’s Sid Bream hit a ground ball at Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek, who fielded it and threw it to catcher Brian Harper to retire Lonnie Smith at home. Harper then threw back to Hrbek to retire the side.
In general, with bases loaded situations, you’ll more often see a 3-2-4 or 3-2-1 DP, with the second baseman or pitcher handling the return throw from the catcher. I wondered how many 3-2-3 DPs have occurred recently, so off to the Baseball Reference Play Index “Batting Event Finder” I went.
2011 saw six such double plays executed, including the Twins 1B Justin Morneau and catcher Steve Holm pulling it off on April 15. There were three 3-2-3 DPs completed in 2010, eight in 2009, two in 2008, three in 2007 and four in 2006.
So hats off to the often defensively-maligned Cabrera (and Avila) for their sharp glovework last night.