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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Walks and Strikeouts

In the latest Cubs debacle on Sunday afternoon Brian Giles of the Padres set a team record by walking five times. However, Dave Smith of retrosheet reports that pitcher Clay Hensley also struck out 5 times which led him to do some research. His conclusions (with some commentary) as posted on the SABR-L list this morning include:

  • From 1957 through Sunday, there were 55 cases of a batter collecting 5 or more walks in a game, including two occurrences of 6. The large majority of these were in extra inning games. In fact, those 5 walks tie a post 1893 NL record (Walt Wilmot got 6 in a game in 1891). Jimmy Foxx holds the AL and major league record with 6 in a game in 1938.

  • During the same period, there have been 97 cases of a batter striking out 5 or more times, including 6 occurrences of 6. Only twice did the 5 walks and 5 strikeouts happen in the same game, but for one of these the batters were not on the same team. The first was 5/23/1987 with the Braves visiting the Cubs. In that 16 inning game Ozzie Virgil struck out 5 times for the Braves and Dale Murphy walked 5 times. The second occurred on 4/15/1966 with the Red Sox facing the Indians. In 12 innings George Scott of the Red Sox struck out 5 times and Vic Davalillo of the Indians walked 5 times.

  • The end result is that the events for Giles and Hensley on Sunday are unique for a 9 inning game in the last 50 years.

  • What's really disturbing of course for Cub fans is that while Giles walked five times on Sunday Jacque Jones (he of the .303 OBP) has walked five times all season in 102 AB, Ronnie Cedeno (.309 OBP) has walked 4 times in 132 AB, Juan Pierre just 8 times in 151 AB (.269 OBP), Neifi Perez just 4 times in 64 AB (.235 OBP), Jerry Hairston four times in 60 AB (.313 OBP), John Mabry all of once in 46 AB (.250 OBP), and Fred Bynum once in 32 AB (.212 OBP). I sincerely hope the Cubs front office isn't scratching their heads trying to figure out why it is that their team is dead last in runs scored behind even the Pirates.

    No walks + No power (they're also last in SLUG) = No Runs

    And of course with this collection of hitters it is simply not surprising that this is the result. They've intentionally loaded their team with players with poor plate discipline and a heavy reliance on batting average and while you can accept a shortstop like Cedeno to hit this way, you can't accept it from your two corner outfielders and every one of your reserves. That's a recipe for disaster cooked up by Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker.

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