What Is A Double Switch In Baseball?

Baseball fans have some strategies being deployed by coaches of the game that have worked to perfection from time to time and they can’t help but wonder. In this article, we will be explaining the concept of a double switch in baseball.

What Is A Double Switch In Baseball?

A double switch is a lineup change that occurs when a manager replaces a pitcher in the lineup while also replacing a position player.

The players who enter the game replace those who leave the game in the lineup. This strategy could also be deployed with just position players. The double switch is a relatively simple principle, but there are a few reasons why a manager may or may not use it.

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What Is The Use Of A Double Switch?

Most substitutions in baseball are straight substitutions, in which one position player replaces another in the same lineup spot. However, double switches are a little different.

A double switch occurs when two players are replaced at the same time by two different players. However, the two replacements switch batting positions corresponding to the original lineup, which usually involves moving the pitcher’s position in the lineup.

Let’s say a pitcher bats ninth. In this case, a manager may choose to replace him with another batter, say the shortstop batting sixth.

In a double switch, a new shortstop would enter at the same time and take the ninth spot in the batting order, while the incoming pitcher would take the sixth spot.

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It is less common for a manager to replace two position players at the same time, which usually occurs in the late innings of a blowout game.

In the case of mass substitutions, the replacements will typically bat in the same lineup spots as the players they replace, but managers may slide players into different spots if they have a specific position player they want to see at-bats.

Therefore, the manager must explicitly declare the nature of his substitutions to the home plate umpire, emphasizing the change in lineup spots to ensure clarity in subsequent innings.

Remember that when a position player is substituted in baseball, he or she may not return to the game in any capacity. Also, baseball rules do not allow a player to change batting order positions.

Based on these rules, a double switch ensures the making of two moves at the same time, two new players entering the game, and two players leaving for the remainder of the game.

Meanwhile, multiple double switches in one game are unusual due to the amount of maneuvering required.

What Causes A Double Switch In Baseball?

Fans and observers of the game have been asking this question as they are yet to identify with the significance of a double switch in a baseball game. Therefore, why do coaches deploy this strategy?

Baseball coaches implement a double switch to move the pitcher’s spot in the batting order further away from the spot due up in the next inning, thereby delaying the pitcher’s batting.

It is a no-brainer that Pitchers are bad hitters, so managers will do anything to keep them from being hit, including having a batter pinch hit for them.

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In essence, the double switch helps to solve this problem by delaying the next at-bat by an inning or two. A double switch is deployed when a manager wants to make a pitching change with the pitcher’s spot due up in the next inning.

Assume a team’s shortstop bats seventh and their pitcher bats ninth, with an inning, ending with the shortstop making the final out.

In this case, the manager may decide to let his current pitcher finish another inning before pinch-hitting for him in the next. If the manager decides to bring in a new pitcher instead, he’ll almost certainly perform a double switch.

In that case, the manager would almost certainly bring in his new pitcher and bat him seventh, replacing his shortstop. A new shortstop would come in and bat ninth in that case.

In this scenario, a position player already in the batting lineup, say a second baseman, could slide over to shortstop, and the new position player could enter at second base instead. Managers are allowed, and in many cases forced, to be creative with positional flexibility when using a double switch.

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How Does The Double Switch Affect The DH?

Based on the aforementioned scenario, a double switch is used to replace a current pitcher who is also in the batting order.

However, the majority of professional baseball leagues around the world (as well as all levels of college baseball and the National Federation of High Schools) use the designated hitter (DH), which eliminates this issue.

Does The Double Switch Solely Depend On The DH?

The double switch is very popular in the National League though it has been used by American League (AL) teams. It was very popular in the National League where the designated hitter was not used until 2020.

Double switches can and will be used by American League teams in interleague games at National League ballparks, but they will also be used in games to bring in two position players at once while foregoing an incoming pitcher.

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This is less common because most AL teams only carry three or four bench players, so managers are less likely to burn two of those players at the same time unless it is late in a game that is already decided.

However, data suggests that in recent years, American League teams have used the double switch as much, if not more, than their National League counterparts.

Based on stats, an AL team, the Los Angeles Angels, used it more than any other team over a three-year period from 2014 to 2016, with an average of more than 60 per season.

Regardless, the double switch is nearly 70 years older than the DH. Box scores displaying a double switch date back to at least 1902, with the intention being to avoid pitchers in the batting order even then.

Finally, our guess is that your question on what a double switch is in baseball has been answered in this article.

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