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 3-6-4 double play. What is a 3-6-4 double play in baseball?
A 3-6-4 double play in baseball occurs when the first baseman (3) throws the ball to the shortstop (6) covering second base for the first out, and the shortstop (6) then throws the ball to the second baseman (4) who is covering first base for the second out. This type of double play combination is rare and is most common on a bunt play that is fielded by the first baseman (causing the second baseman to cover first).
Because it takes a specific bunt play to cause this 3-6-4 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 3-6-4 double play, including why and how it happens, and what other types of double plays are more common.
What is a 3 6 4 Double Play in Baseball?
As we discussed above, a 3-6-4 double play in baseball occurs when the first baseman (3) throws the ball to the shortstop (6) for the first out, and the shortstop (6) then throws the ball to the second baseman (4) who is covering first 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
A 3-6-4 double play is when, with a runner on first, a first baseman (3) fields a ground ball (almost always a bunt in this situation) and throws the runner on first out at second. The shortstop (6) takes the throw from the first baseman, steps on second base for a force out, and then throws back to first base.
Since the first baseman was pulled away from the bag to field the ground ball bunt, the second baseman covers first base and receives the throw from the shortstop to get the second out to complete the double play.
Why is a 3-6-4 Double Play so Rare in Baseball?
At first glance, a 3-6-4 double play may seem commonplace. It is not.
When you watch a baseball game, almost every time the first baseman is pulled away from the base, first base is covered by the pitcher. In fact, pitchers are taught from an early age to make a break towards first as soon as a batter hits the ball in that direction.
However, when the batter lays down a bunt, a different set of rules apply. The four primary players whose job it is to make a play on a bunt is the pitcher (1), the third baseman (5), the first baseman (3), and the catcher (2).
Every time a bunt is laid down, it is the second baseman’s job to cover first. The shortstop either covers second, if there is a runner only on first, or third if there is a runner on first and second.
The bottom line is that there is only one really specific instance when a 3-6-4 double play should routinely happen. It would occur when, with a runner on first and not second, a batter lays down a bunt that is fielded cleanly by the first baseman.
The first baseman throws the lead runner out at second, the throw is caught by the shortstop who then throws out the batter at first while first base is covered by the second baseman resulting in a 3 6 4 double play.
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 3-6-4 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 3-6-4 double play in baseball.
Other Baseball Information
For other baseball information, visit our articles linked below: