What is a double in baseball? For both players and fans, having a clear understanding of what constitutes a double is key to fully appreciating the game of baseball. But if you don’t know the specific criteria that make a hit a two-base knock, the basics of what a double is can be confusing.
This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about doubles in baseball.
You’ll learn the official rules of what makes a fair hit a double, why doubles are so strategically important, tips for hitting more stand-up two-baggers, which MLB legends mastered the double, and fascinating historical feats.
Whether you are a lifelong baseball fanatic or just a casual viewer, our comprehensive doubles deep dive will give you new appreciation for this exciting extra base hit.
Let’s start by looking at the formal definition of what it means to hit a double in the ballpark.
The Definition and Rules of a Double
Topics Covered In This Article
- 1 The Definition and Rules of a Double
- 2 Techniques and Strategies to Hit More Doubles
- 3 Famous MLB Players Known for Doubles
- 4 Fun Doubles Facts and Feats
- 5 Key Questions: What is a double in baseball
- 6 Bottom Line on “What is a double in baseball”
By definition, a double is a hit in baseball that allows the batter to safely reach second base before being tagged out or forced out. This usually happens when a batter hits a ball into the outfield gap and has enough time to run to second base while the outfielders field the ball.
The requirements for a hit to be considered a double are:
- The ball must land in fair territory in the outfield, either on the ground or on one bounce.
- The batter must reach second base without being thrown or tagged out.
- The batter can take more than one base on a hit, but it is still only counted as a double. Reaching third base or beyond does not make it a triple.
Doubles are distinct from singles, triples, and home runs based on how far the batter is able to advance. A double is any fair ball hit into the outfield that allows the batter to reach second base safely.
Here are some key rules governing doubles in major league baseball:
- If a batted ball bounces over an outfield wall or fence, it is considered a ground rule double. The batter is awarded second base automatically.
- If a ball lodges or gets stuck in the fence, scoreboard, or wall padding, it is also ruled a ground rule double.
- If a fair fly ball bounces before going over the fence or into the stands, it is a double rather than a home run.
- If a ball rolls or bounces into foul territory before passing first or third base and the batter reaches second base, it is a double.
- Fielder obstruction or errors that allow the batter to reach second base safely still count as a double.
As you can see, the double is precisely defined in the MLB rule book. Umpires must make the correct call based on where the ball lands and how far the batter advances.
Why Doubles Are an Important Hitting Statistic
While home runs garner the most excitement, doubles are quietly one of the most strategically important hits in baseball. Doubles offer several advantages for teams:
- They keep innings alive. With a runner now in scoring position at second base, a single, wild pitch, or sac fly can drive in the run.
- They wear down pitchers. The constant threat of a rally forces pitchers to work harder each inning.
- They indicate hitting prowess. Doubles require solid contact and good judgment to place the ball accurately.
- They spark rallies. A lead-off double jumping starts an offense and creates energy.
Doubles also provide several statistical benefits:
- A higher batting average. Going two-for-four with two singles is a .500 average. Two doubles in four at-bats is still .500 even though twice as many bases were gained.
- A higher on-base percentage. Reaching base via a double raises a player’s on-base percentage just like a walk or single would.
- More chances to score runs. Being on second base with less than two outs produces a run an estimated 26% of the time on average.
In summary, doubles have an outsized impact in baseball because:
- They extend innings and give teams more scoring opportunities.
- They apply constant offensive pressure that can rattle pitchers.
- They demonstrate a batter’s ability to hit for power and placement.
- They spark momentum shifts and rallies when hit at key moments.
- They boost a hitter’s batting average, on-base percentage, and run production.
That’s why you’ll often hear broadcasters and analysts talk about the batting double being the hardest hit to achieve consistently. Doubles reward hitters who can do it all – hit for average and hit for power strategically.
Techniques and Strategies to Hit More Doubles
While doubles may come from luck or random chance in some cases, the best hitters have nuanced approaches to give themselves the best chance of doubles success:
Batting Techniques for Hitting Doubles
- Keep your swing compact and quick through the hitting zone to make solid contact.
- Focus on driving through the middle of the ball to hit line drives into the gaps.
- Aim to hit the top half of the ball to generate lift and carry.
- Look for pitches on the inner half you can pull into the left field corner.
- Be ready to go opposite field on outside pitches and take them the other way.
- Adjust your stance to open up slightly and attack pitches on the outer third.
- Maintain balance during your swing so you can transfer maximum power.
Hitting Approaches for Doubling Up
- Study spray charts to find gaps in the defense to target.
- Look for fastballs middle-in that you can turn on and pull hard.
- Be selective and wait for pitches in your double zone – not too inside or outside.
- Focus on driving the gaps rather than trying to hit home runs.
- With two strikes, shorten up your swing to make contact and shoot the gaps.
- With the bases empty, use a normal swing to try for extra bases.
- With runners on base, use more of a contact approach to hit behind them.
The mental side matters too. Staying relaxed, confident, and tuned into your strengths is key to driving the ball into the gaps for doubles. With the right adjustments and approach for your hitting style, racking up two-baggers can become second nature.
Famous MLB Players Known for Doubles
Throughout MLB history, certain players have become known for their elite ability to consistently crush extra-base hits, especially doubles. Here are some legendary double machines of years past and present:
Historic MLB Doubles Leaders
- Tris Speaker – Held career record for doubles from 1920s to 1990s with 792.
- Stan Musial – Had 822 career doubles and led NL six times in the 1940s-50s.
- Pete Rose – All-time record of 746 doubles from 1960s-80s.
- Ty Cobb – Fourth all-time with 724 doubles primarily in the deadball era.
Contemporary MLB Doubles Stars
- Albert Pujols – Led league in doubles seven times and has 694 so far.
- Miguel Cabrera – Won four doubles crowns and has 614 in his Hall of Fame career.
- David Ortiz – Belted 632 doubles as a power lefty slugger for Boston.
- Todd Helton – Hit 592 two-baggers in his Rockies career taking advantage of the thin air.
As you can see, hitting doubles consistently at the major league level takes a rare blend of hand-eye coordination, strength, smarts, and clutch hitting when it matters most. The players who master the double benefit their teams immensely and cement their legacies as run producers.
Fun Doubles Facts and Feats
Let’s explore some fascinating fun facts, rare feats, and unbelievable accomplishments related to baseball doubles throughout history:
- Hank Greenberg set the AL record for doubles in a season with 63 in 1937 as a Detroit Tiger.
- Earl Webb holds the odd MLB record for doubles in a season with 67 playing for the Red Sox in 1931.
- The most doubles hit in a game by a single player is 4, accomplished only 14 times, first by Ed Cartwright in 1890.
- Only three players have ever hit four doubles in a World Series game – Bobby Richardson, Kenny Boyer, and Chase Utley.
- The single game team record for doubles is 13, set by the 1936 New York Giants.
- Tris Speaker shockingly hit eight inside-the-park doubles in 1912 as an elite baserunner.
- Shoeless Joe Jackson owns the highest career batting average of .356 but Speaker’s .345 is highest among career .300+ hitters.
Doubles records and fun facts reveal how for over a century MLB sluggers have accomplished doubles feats that may never be replicated. Modern analytic shifts make doubles tougher to achieve today.
Key Questions: What is a double in baseball
How is a double different from a triple?
A double is any fair ball hit into the outfield that allows the batter to reach second base. A triple is when the batter is able to advance safely to third base before being stopped. Typically triples travel deeper into the gaps or into the corner outfield.
Do ground rule doubles count as normal doubles?
Yes, ground rule doubles when the ball bounces over the fence or gets lodged still count as regular doubles in a player’s hitting statistics.
Can a batter get credited with a double if there is a fielding error?
Yes, if a fielding error allows the batter to safely reach second base, it is scored as a standard double. The error does not nullify the extra base hit.
What if the batter reaches third base on a hit – is it a triple?
No, it is still credited as a double even if aggressive or smart baserunning allows the batter to reach third base safely after a double.
Do doubles hit in the postseason count as doubles records?
Yes, doubles recorded in MLB playoff games and the World Series all count towards a player’s career and single-season doubles records.
Bottom Line on “What is a double in baseball”
So what is a double in baseball? In summary, a double is any fair ball hit into the outfield gaps that allows the batter to reach second base safely before being stopped. While not as glamorous as home runs, doubles are the solid base hits that consistently ignite rallies, wear down pitchers, and reward hitters with excellent hand-eye coordination and gap power.
Understanding the rules, strategy, and history behind doubling up enhances any baseball fan or player’s enjoyment of the game. Studying the all-time doubles leaders like Speaker, Musial, Rose, and Pujols reveals the elite skill this underrated hit requires. Focus when watching games on how players like Cabrera, Ortiz, and Utley master the double through compact swings, line drives, and gap targeting.
The next time you watch an MLB game, appreciate the nuances when a batter rockets a stand-up two-bagger into the alley. With the right approach, doubling up can become second nature and be a key factor in winning championships.
So keep the doubles records, feats, and importance in mind and pass this knowledge on to fellow fans. The unsung double deserves more glory as a fundamental hit that has shaped over a century of baseball strategy and history!
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