Only 10 teams in history have turned 200 double plays in a season. Amazingly, the Philadelphia Athletics did so in back-to-back-to-back seasons. In 1949 the A’s turned a record 217, followed by 208 in 1950 and 204 in 1951. The trend did not continue, as they finished with the second-fewest in the league the next year.
Connie Mack’s 1949 crew featured Hank Majeski at third, Eddie Joost at short, Pete Suder at second, and defensive specialist Ferris “Burrhead” Fain as the anchor at first. Joost and Fain stayed on the next two seasons, but Majeski was traded to the White Sox and Suder was hurt for much of 1950. Suder returned at full strength the next year and Majeski was traded back the A’s, restoring their infield of 1949. So although there was some consistency in the personnel, it doesn’t fully explain why those teams turned so many double plays. More likely it has to do with the pitching staff, which was quite poor over that three-year span. In 1949, A’s pitchers put opponents on base 36% of the time, third-worst in the majors. In 1950 they were even worse, allowing a .376 on-base percentage, absolute last in baseball. In 1951 they had improved to .347, though that was still third-worst in the American League. With all those baserunners, ground balls, were more likely to become double play balls. Still, there have been plenty of bad-pitching teams that did not turn nearly as many DPs, so the Philadelphia infield must be given some credit.