Double plays are a very common occurrence in a Major League Baseball game, and they can happen in a variety of ways. One of the less common double plays is a 1-2-3 double play. What is a 1-2-3 double play in baseball?
A 1-2-3 double play in baseball occurs when the pitcher (1) fields a ground ball and throws it to the catcher (2) covering home for the first out, and the catcher (2) then throws the ball to the first baseman (3) for the second out. This type of double play combination is rare and takes the bases loaded with less than two outs for it to occur.
With the bases loaded, it causes a force out to occur at home plate. This means when the pitcher (1) fields the ground ball, he can make a quick throw home for the first force out, and the catcher (2) can then turn and fire the ball to first base for the second out.
Because it takes a bases loaded situation to cause this 1-2-3 double play to occur, it is rarely seen in baseball (but does occur occasionally). In this article let’s take a closer look at a 1-2-3 double play, including why and how it happens, and what other types of double plays are more common.
What is a 1 2 3 Double Play in Baseball?
As we discussed above, a 1-2-3 double play in baseball occurs when the pitcher (1) fields a ground ball and throws it to the catcher (2) covering home for the first out, and the catcher (2) then throws the ball to the first baseman (3) for the second out.
As you may already know, when scoring a baseball game, each position is given a number from one-to-nine. The numbers used by position are:
- 1 = Pitcher
- 2 = Catcher
- 3 = First Base
- 4 = Second Base
- 5 = Third Base
- 6 = Shortstop
- 7 = Left Field
- 8 = Center Field
- 9 = Right Field
Why is a 1-2-3 Double Play so Rare in Baseball?
At first glance, a 1-2-3 double play may seem commonplace. It is not.
A 1-2-3 double play is rare because it requires the bases to be loaded. If the bases are not loaded and a ground ball is hit back to the pitcher, then the runner at third will stay put.
In a major league baseball game, there are not that many balls grounded back up the middle that the pitcher fields cleanly. Most players swing hard and make good enough contact that the play is rare to begin with. To have it happen with the bases loaded is exceedingly rarer.
But with the bases loaded and less than two outs, a pitcher is taught to throw home when he fields a baseball. This is to ensure that the lead runner is thrown out, and a run does not score, in the chance that the double play is not turned successfully.
It is also worth noting that a 1-2-3 double play would not happen on a suicide squeeze play because even if the pitcher fielded the bunt and threw to the catcher at home plate, the first baseman would not be the player covering first base because he would have crashed down to potentially field the bunt. The second baseman would be covering first, which would result in a 1-2-4 double play, if turned.
To read about other types of rare double plays in baseball, visit our articles linked below:
Most Common Types of Double Plays in Baseball
A 1-2-3 double play is not one of the most common double play combinations in baseball. The three most common types of double plays in baseball are a 6-4-3 double play, a 4-6-3 double play, and a 5-4-3 double play. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
- 6-4-3 Double Play – In the case of the 6-4-3 combination, the shortstop (6) fields the ball, tosses the ball to the second baseman (4) covering second, who tags the base and throws the runner out at first where the first baseman (3) is covering.
- 4-6-3 Double Play – In the case of the 4-6-3 combination, the second baseman (4) fields the ball, tosses the ball to the shortstop (6) covering second, who tags the base and throws the ball to the first baseman (3) to get the batter out at first.
- 5-4-3 Double Play – The 5-4-3 double play combination is the third most common. This occurs when the third baseman (5) fields the ball, throws the lead runner out at second base with the second baseman (4) covering, and the second baseman throws the batter out at first with the first baseman (3) covering the bag.
Even the fastest players can easily find themselves thrown out at first for a double play when they ground the ball to the shortstop or second baseman, so these plays (6-4-3 and 4-6-3) tend to be the “easiest” for the defense to make.
The double play started by the third baseman (5-4-3) results in a longer initial throw, which means it is a bit more difficult to turn than the other two common types of double plays. Regardless, all three of these double plays are much more common than a 1-2-3 double play in baseball.
Other Baseball Information
For other baseball information, visit our articles linked below: