Do only slow runners ground into many double plays?

From SABR member Tom Ruane at Retrosheet on December 15, 2011:

There was a discussion recently on SABR-L about whether we can reliably determine that a player was slow from his offensive statistics. Several markers were proposed: low stolen base totals, a poor SB success rate, and few triples were some of those that were mentioned. So was a high number of grounded into double-plays (GIDP). During the discussion that followed, one of the contributors mentioned that Jackie Jensen had set the major league record (since broken) when he grounded into 32 DPs in 1954, but also hit seven triples and had a league-leading 22 stolen bases with an above average (75.9) success rate. Someone else then suggested that perhaps Jensen simply had an extraordinarily high number of GIDP opportunities that year, what with Ted Williams (an OBP machine) hitting in front of him much of the year. Mike Lynch (of seamheads fame) then contacted me and suggested that it might be nice if we had some, you know, actual data on the subject.

So here’s what I did: for each player’s season from 1952 to 2011, I computed his total plate-appearances (PA), the number of those where a GIDP was possible (GPA), the number of ground-outs in those situations (GO), and the number of times he grounded into a double-play (GIDP). I also computed the percentage of plate-appearances in situations where a GIDP was possible, the percentage of those plate-appearances that resulted in a ground-out, and the percentage of those ground-outs that resulted in a GIDP.

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Originally published: December 15, 2011. Last Updated: December 15, 2011.