Sunday, April 13, 2014

The walkless nine

Every year at the start of the season, a couple of batters pique the interest as to when they will record their first base on balls of the season. This season, we have nine candidates we will be watching to see who goes the longest this season without getting a walk. Some of the names are surprising due to their histories. And others might be explainable due to how hot they are hitting. After all, who wants to walk when hits are screaming off the bat.

So who will be the last man standing of the following nine (minimum of 30 PAs)?
  • Melky Cabrera: The Melkman is off to a good start with the bat. He is batting .327 and already has four homers. Who wouldn't want to swing the bat with that kind of hitting going on? 55 PAs
  • Dustin Pedroia: This one is a complete surprise as Pedroia has traditionally walked over 9% of the time in his career and was over 10% last year. He is only batting .237 though. The Red Sox moved him up to the lead-off position yesterday to get his mind into taking more pitches. It did not work.  55 PAs.
  • Juan Uribe - The Dodgers' third baseman has never liked to walk much, but the last two years he was over 7%. He is off to a real hot start with the bat and is batting .367. Swing batta batta. 49 plate appearances.
  • Aramis Ramirez: A-Ram is another who is off to a hot start with a .383 batting average. Walks need not apply. Plus the team is on an eight game winning streak. So why mess it up? Ramirez has already driven in ten runs. 47 plate appearances.
  • Khris Davis: Davis is having an odd season so far. But again, he plays with Ramirez on the Brewers and they are hot. So why worry? Davis is only hitting .269, so his lack of walks makes his on-base percentage look pretty bad. He is striking out at a 32.6% clip without walks. That's an ugly combo. 43 PAs.
  • Jonathan Schoop: Schoop made the Orioles team heading north because Machado was not ready to play. He is a top prospect and has looked good at times and bad at times. Having no walks is not a great thing, but is something that happens quite a bit to first year players. He has a .243 BA and a .243 OBP. 37 PAs.
  • Steve Lombardozzi: This is the new Orioles' second baseman's regular MO as he only has a 3.2% career walk rate. Having two guys in the lineup with him and Schoop not walking is a problem. Lombardozzi does have a .306 batting average and has been hit once with a pitch. 37 PAs.
  • Mitch Moreland: Moreland is the Rangers' DH this season and as such is going up there swinging and hacking. He has no walks and a 30.6% strikeout rate. The Rangers won't put up with that for long.  36 PAs.
  • Mike Zunino: The Mariners' young catcher has a wOBA over .360, so his lack of walks have not been a problem yet. Again, it is typical for a young player getting his first shot to swing at everything. And that is what Zunino is doing. 32 PAs.
There are your nine walkless wonders. Of the nine, only Zunino, Schoop and Ramirez are in the top ten at swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. So they are the best candidates we watch as the last MLB batter without a walk.

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