When researching and compiling a list such as this, parameters and requirements must be established.
Since the title itself is “Double Play Combinations,” I went completely with defense. Had it been the best second basemen or the best shortstops, I would have taken into account their offensive numbers as well.
It was a daunting task, to say the least. The first thing to be done was to find out who the best keystone players were.
After coming up with a list, I then had to compare seasons in which they played on the same team and played enough games to qualify.
The categories I used to rate these tandems were fielding percentage, errors, assists, and double plays turned.
I averaged the two men’s statistics together and was amazed to see how some players really brought down another’s numbers. For example, Buddy Myer showed that he was the better infielder while his teammate Joe Cronin put an anchor on their stats.
I did allow for tenure. I used a yearly average as well as the total numbers.
That is how Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar floated to the Top 10. Their statistics were awesome, but they only played in Cleveland together for three years.
Without further verbiage, I give to you the Top 10 Double Play Combinations in MLB History.
Hardly any baseball fan has not heard the term “Tinker to Evers to Chance.” It was part of a poem written by a sportswriter.
Many are under the impression that these two were the best at turning double plays. I am sorry to bust that myth, but they are 10th.
The category which they were highest on the list was assists per year with 433. They completed 458 double plays during their nine years together.
As a side note, it is interesting that these two went 35 years without speaking to each other.
The tandem of Russell and Lopes had a very fine .970 fielding percentage and had the second longest tenure together at nine years.
They completed 647 double plays during their time together.
If Vizquel and Alomar had played for more than three years together, it is hard to imagine what all they could have done.
They led this list in fewest errors per season with a little more than eight. They were also first in fielding percentage with .986.
Cronin and Myer came in second on the list in double plays turned per year with 104.
They played together for six years. Cronin is a member of the Hall of Fame, and I truly believe Buddy Myer should be as well.
As the centerpiece of the “Big Red Machine,” Concepcion and Morgan had a very good combined fielding percentage of .980 for their eight years together.
They turned 690 double plays, which places them fourth on the list in that category.
These two were also fourth on the list while averaging only 15 errors per year.
Joe Morgan won two National League Most Valuable Player awards; however, this list does not recognize offensive hallmarks.
Maz is another player I have failed to give his just due. They averaged only 90 errors between them during their run of six years.
They had a combined fielding percentage of .978.
Alley and Mazeroski led all pairs in double plays turned per year with 106.
In their nine-year stint together, Billy Rogell and Charlie Gehringer completed 784 double plays, third highest of the group. The twosome averaged 96 twin killings per year.
Rogell made Gehringer look bad by lowering the tandem’s statistics. Charlie only committed 164 errors during those nine years. Rogell committed 254.
Gehringer’s fielding percentage was .979 to Rogell’s .957.
Ozzie Smith is known as one of the best defensive players ever, so it sounds weird to say it, but he actually dragged Tom Herr down.
Their .985 combined fielding percentage came in just one percentage point behind the category leaders, Omar Vizquel and Roberto Alomar.
Herr committed fewer than nine errors per season during his time with Smith, and 36 fewer than Ozzie made those six years. The couple turned more than 87 DPs per season.
These two Hall of Famers surprised me by making the Top 10, let alone being the runners-up.
They manned the center of the White Sox infield from 1956 until 1963. Fox was the better defender of the two, as Luis Aparicio’s fielding percentage dragged his teammate down. The two combined for a fielding percentage of .980.
Aparicio and Fox came in second in total double plays with 798.
This duo is one of two on this list made up of Hall of Famers.
And the winners are...Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.
Trammell and Whitaker played together from 1978 until 1991. With a fielding percentage of .981, they finished third in that category. They finished first in assists and DPs.
Trammell and Whitaker played together for at least four years longer than any of the others on the list.
They averaged only 13 errors per year as a tandem while turning almost 93 DPs per year.
Honorable Mentions go out to:
Pee Wee Reese/Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers: 1948-1952
Art Fletcher/Larry Doyle, New York Giants: 1912-1915; 1918-1919
Jack Barry/Eddie Collins, Philadelphia Athletics: 1909-1914