In baseball, an unassisted double play (UDP) is when one fielder records two outs on the field, without the aid of another player. This usually happens in one of two ways:
- An infielder will catch a batted ball in the air (1) and then tag out a runner attempting to return to a base he left, or tag the base he left (2).
- An infielder (usually the shortstop or second baseman) will field a ground ball, tag out an advancing runner (1), and then tag a base for a force out (2).
Occasionally, some random and wacky unassisted double plays will occur. On April 17, 2003, New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada executed a UDP because of quick thinking. With the bases loaded, batter Luis Alicea hit a ball that weakly rolled out towards the pitcher's mound. Posada snatched the ball up, tagged home, and then tagged Alicea. Note that if he had tagged Alicea first, there would have been no force out at home, and thus no double play.
Often times unassisted double plays are the result of poor baserunning and lack of knowledge in the game. Tino Martinez became the victim of an unassisted double play in 2001 for this reason. He was on second base when the batter hit a shallow pop up near where he was. Umpire John Hirschbeck correctly invoked the Infield Fly rule, automatically awarding Boston shortstop Nomar Garciaparra a putout. The ball then struck Martinez in the thigh. Martinez looked up and saw Hirschbeck's hand in the "out" position, thought he was out, and stepped off the bag. The astute Garciaparra then tagged Martinez, earning himself a UDP.
The unassisted double play itself is very rare. The record for UDPs in a season is two, and the career record is six, by the legendary Tris Speaker, who played center field! He did this by playing notoriously shallow and making runners pay by outrunning them to second on shallow sacrifice flies.
See also: unassisted triple play