What Is A Double Play In Baseball?

Exactly what is a double play in baseball?What is a double play in baseball

6-4-3, 4-6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6-3 double play.

Have you ever been watching a game and hear an announcer spit out these terms, but were unsure what the heck they were saying?

If you are new to the game, or even if you have been around it for a while, the term “double play” can be a little confusing at times.

In this article, I will show you what a double play is and run through some scenarios that will result in a double play.

Hopefully by the time we wrap it up, the next time someone asks you, “What is a double play in baseball?” you will be able to answer them with ease.


So, what is a double play in baseball?

In the most basic sense, a double play occurs when the defense is able to record 2 outs in one play.

There are tons of different ways that this can happen.

In the interest of not having this post go on forever, I will go over some of the most common plays that result in a double play.

Before we get started, it’s important to know that each player on the field has a specific “position number.”

If you are not familiar with these numbers, I would encourage you to read an article I wrote about Simple Baseball Rules.

In that article, you will find all of the basic rules of baseball, starting with position numbers. By the time you are finished reading that article, you will have a much better understanding of the game.

Scenarios for a double play

6-4-3 Double Play6-4-3 double play in baseball

The 6-4-3 double play is probably the most common double play that occurs during a baseball game.

These are the conditions that must be present for a 6-4-3 double play to occur.

  • There must be a runner already on 1st base
  • There must be less than 2 outs

The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a ground ball to the short stop (position #6).

The short stop quickly throws the ball to the second baseman (position #4), who is covering 2nd base.

The ball thrown by the short stop beats the runner to 2nd base who was running from first. That’s out #1.

The 2nd baseman then quickly throws the ball to the first baseman (position #3).

If the ball beats the runner to first base, that is out #2.

The defense has successfully completed a 6-4-3 double play!

4-6-3 Double Play4-6-3 double play

The 4-6-3 double play is nearly identical to the 6-4-3 double play.

The same conditions need to be present, only this time when the batter hits a ground ball, the play must initiate with the second baseman(position #4).

The second baseman fields the ball and then throws it to the short stop (position #6) who is covering second base with the ball arriving before the runner. That’s out #1.

The short stop then throws the ball to the first basemen (position #3), beating the runner to first base. That’s out #2.

The defense has successfully turned a 4-6-3 double play!

3-6 Double Play3-6 double play in baseball

The 3-6 double play requires that the same conditions be met, except in this scenario, the double play only requires 2 players and a tag.

The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman (position #3).

The first baseman immediately steps on first before the runner reaches the base. That’s out #1.

The first basemen then throws the ball to the short stop, who then has to tag the runner with the ball. If the short stop tags the runner before they reach second, then that is out #2.

If you’re wondering why the short stop has to “tag” the runner going to 2nd, go back to the beginning of the play.

When the first baseman stepped on first base to record the first out of the double play, the runner on first is no longer required to advance, thereby eliminating the force out at second.

The defense has completed a successful 3-6 double play!

6-3 Double play6-3 double play in baseball

The 6-3 double play is a little different.

The pitcher throws the ball and the batter hits a grounder to the short stop (position #6).

The short stop fields the ball and touches 2nd base before the runner coming from first. That’s out #1.

The short stop then throws the ball to the first baseman (position #3), who then touches 1st before the batter reaches. That’s out #2.

In this case, there is no need to “tag” either runner as a force out is in play at both bases.

The defense has successfully completed a 6-3 double play!

3-6-3 Double Play3-6-3 double play

The 3-6-3 double play will require that the same conditions are present.

The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a ground ball to the first baseman (position #3).

In this case, the first baseman is a little too far away from 1st base to leave time for a double play if they run over to first to touch the bag.

With time being critical, the first baseman quickly throws the ball to the short stop (position #6) who is covering second base. The short stop touches second before the runner arrives. That’s out #1.

The short stop then throws the ball to the first baseman who touches first before the runner. That’s out #2.

The defense has successfully turned a 3-6-3 double play!

So, what is a double play in baseball?

During a baseball game, there is a nearly endless amount of ways to make a double play.

Check out the quick video below to see some great double plays from around Major League Baseball.

When the defending team is able to record 2 outs in one play, they have successfully completed a double play.

In some future articles, I will go over some of the less common ways that a double play can be accomplished.

Do the same rules apply to softball?

Baseball and softball have many similarities and some differences.

In the case of a double play, yes, the same conditions must be present.

If you would like to read more about the differences between baseball and softball, you can read my article with the link below.

What Is The Difference Between Baseball And Softball

There I lay out some of the major differences between the 2 games.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you found it helpful and informative.

If you have any further questions about, “What is a double play in baseball?” just leave a comment below and I will get back with you a.s.a.p.

Thanks for stopping by ~Jeremy

P.S. Don’t forget to stop by the BaseballXStore for some great deals 🙂

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4 thoughts on “What Is A Double Play In Baseball?

  1. Nice article! Got me really excited for baseball season. Go braves? I didn’t watch a single game last year lol.

    For the last play (3-6-3) is there any case in which the 1st baseman fields the ball, throws to the shortstop covering second, and then doesn’t make play? I’m not entirely sure, but I think I’ve seen the pitcher cover first at times. I can’t remember if a 3-6-1 is even a real play? Let me know!

    -Stu

    1. Thank you Stu!
      Sorry to hear that you didn’t get to see any games last year, you missed a great season!
      Funny you should mention the Braves. When I was a kid living in Florida, the only team I could ever see on TV was the Braves, so I kind of became Braves fan by default. I have been a fan of the team ever since and always route for them. Unless of course they happen to be playing the Tigers 🙂

      You are absolutely correct. The 3-6-3 double play often turns into a 3-6-1 double play.

      When a ball is hit to the right side of the infield, the pitcher should always be moving to cover first base. The 3-6-1 double play usually occurs when the first baseman is forced to move too far away from the bag to field the ball and is unable to make it back in time for the throw from the short stop to complete the 3-6-3. By covering first base, the pitcher (position #1) completes the double play.

      Thanks for stopping by Stu and come back any time and talk some baseball 🙂

      1. Just saw your post on G+. Really liked this one. Got me pumped for the season. Tigers fan huh? Do you remember old Tigers Stadium? Man that place gives me the chills just looking at it on google. It really takes me back to my childhood.. Fond memories of coming inside after a long day playing outside to lay down and watch the Braves on my dads old Zenith! It’s so strange to think about how they used to play on TBS almost every day! Such good times, makes me a bit sad actually. Bittersweet for sure. Thanks for answering my question and for the thoughtful reply. Looking forward to chatting more baseball as it gets warmer!
        -Stu

        1. Hey thanks Stu!
          Yes, I’m a Tigers fan for sure and definitely remember Tigers Stadium. That’s where I got to go to my first game.
          The Tigers just signed Justin Uptin. Remember him? He was a great outfielder for the Braves.
          I’m glad your pumped for the season. It’s looking like the Braves and Tigers have put together some pretty competitive teams.
          Opening Day is only 7 weeks away!
          Stop by any time Stu, I always love chatting about baseball.
          Thanks for stopping by ~Jeremy

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