01 September 2005

Silva, the Twins, I-Rod, and Other Useless Info.

The following was sent to ESPN's Jayson Stark, for his Useless Information Department column. Unlike those fancy-schmancy ESPN writers though, I do not have the Elias Sports Bureau to do all my dirty work/research for me, hence the disclaimer below about my sources. Whether he finds this useless enough to include in a column, who can tell, but I figured someone might find it interesting (besides me) so here it is:


Here's some Useless info on walks for you. I hadn't planned on it being this long, but you know how these things go. Most of the stats came from either ESPN's website or some combination of www.godofthemachine.com and baseballreference.com, except for the team walks info, which came from MLB.com.

The Twins' Carlos Silva has only 8 walks in 180.1 innings, for a walks/9IP rate of 0.399. By contrast, in the 22.5 innings or so it takes Carlos Silva to give up a walk, Al Leiter walks about 16 batters.

Nobody in baseball right now is closer to Silva's rate than David Wells, who has almost twice as many walks, 14, in fewer innings, 145. Nobody in this century has come closer to Silva's current rate than Babe Adams, with a .616 w/9IP rate for the Pirates in 1920, when he walked 18 batters in 263 innings.

To find someone who walked fewer than 0.4 batters per nine innings, you have to go back to the immortal George Zettlein, who walked only 6 batters in 234 innings in 1876. Of course, it took 9 balls to walk a guy at the time, so that's hardly a fair comparison. Silva, if he can keep this rate up, would be the stingiest pitcher at giving up walks since the implementation of, not only the "4-ball walk", but the "eight-balls-or-fewer-walk". And that's saying something. What, I don't exactly know, but something.

The record for fewest walks by a pitcher who qualified for the ERA title is 13, by Bret Saberhagen, with 177 innings in 1994, and he had to miss a month and a half due to the Strike to do that.

Furthermore, led by Silva, Brad Radke (21 Walks in 179.2 innings), Johan Santana (36 walks in 188.2 IP), Kyle Lohse (36 in 152.2) and Joe Mays (36 in 141.1), the Twins have far and away the fewest walks allowed of any team in baseball, with 282 in 133 games. The next closest team, Cleveland, has walked 57 more batters in the same number of games. The Twins' team walk rate, 2.12/game, would be the lowest in a season since 1968, the so-called "Year of the Pitcher", when the Giants just barely edged them out, at 2.11 free passes per game. But since offense was down all over that season (and indeed, in that era), this seems a little unfair as well. To find the next team that edges out the 2005 Twins you have to go way back to 1935, when the Pirates allowed only 2.04 walks per game.

On the flip side, Detroit Tigers' catcher Ivan Rodriguez has walked only 6 times all season (twice intentionally), and is on a pace for only 7 walks in 530 at bats. The next-most impatient player is Robinson Cano, with 14 walks in 410 at-bats, and Cano regularly swings at pitches that go over the umpire's head to the netting behind home plate, while he's still in the taxi on the way to the Stadium! The Royals' Angel Berroa also has only 14 walks, in 500 at-bats, but at least Berroa has been plunked 14 times as well.

To find someone who qualified for the batting title and walked less frequently that Ivan the Terrible Plate Discipline, you have to go back to 1909, when the Cleveland Naps' George Stovall walked only 6 times in 565 at-bats. Nobody since the end of the Dead-Ball Era has come closer to I-Rod's current pace than Virgil Stallcup, who had 9 walks in 575 at-bats for Cincinnati in 1949, or once every 64 at-bats. I-Rod walks once every 71 at-bats, or roughly the number of at-bats it takes Brian Giles to accumulate 15 free passes.

The difference between I-Rod's batting average and on-base percentage is 0.008, which I think would be the smallest in history for anyone who played enough to qualify, though I have no good way of checking this.

Anywho, if you kept reading this long, I appreciate your patience. And if you can find a use for some of this otherwise Useless Information, I'll be even more appreciative.

Keep up the good work,


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