Taking A Walkby Aaron Gleeman
April 08, 2004
Do you ever just think of some random thing while you're sitting around, not doing anything? Happens to me all the time. The other day, I thought to myself, "I wonder which players have walked the most over the last few years?"
There was absolutely no reason for me to think of that, nothing to prompt it whatsoever. It just popped into my head and...well, I booted up Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia and went to work.
I took the 350 players with the most plate appearances from 2001-2003, which is basically everyone with at least 600 total plate appearances (about one full-season's worth).
First, here are the leaders in total walks:
Barry Bonds 523 Jason Giambi 367 Jim Thome 344 Brian Giles 330 Carlos Delgado 322 Bobby Abreu 319 Todd Helton 308 Lance Berkman 306 Chipper Jones 299 Jeff Bagwell 295Nothing too surprising. Barry Bonds set back-to-back major league records for walks in a season in 2001 (177) and 2002 (198), and leads Jason Giambi by about 42%.
Of the guys in the top 10, all of them play first base or a corner outfield spot. The top walker among guys who don't play first base, left field or right field is Jim Edmonds, who plays center field and walked 256 times from 2001-2003. Incidentally, Bonds' total of 523 walks is more than twice as much as Edmonds' total, which ranked 15th overall.
Now, let's take a look at the leaders in walks per plate appearance:
Barry Bonds .2864 Jason Giambi .1790 Jim Thome .1760 Brian Giles .1713 Jeremy Giambi .1687Four of the top five stay the same, with Jason Giambi's little brother, Jeremy, replacing Carlos Delgado at #5.
Here's the amazing thing from that list...on a per plate appearance basis, Barry Bonds has walked about 60% more often than the #2 guy, Jason Giambi. Think about that for a moment.
Here are the guys who walked least often per plate appearance:
Deivi Cruz .0334 Sandy Alomar .0338 Cesar Izturis .0341 Bengie Molina .0354 Corey Patterson .0357Deivi Cruz finally found something he was the best at! Here's a stat to chew on: During the past three years, Barry Bonds has walked 757% more often than Deivi Cruz. Seriously.
If you add up the per plate appearance walk totals of Deivi Cruz, Sandy Alomar, Cesar Izturis, Bengie Molina and Corey Patterson, you get .1724. That combined number would have ranked fourth on the previous list, behind Bonds, Giambi and Jim Thome, and a whopping .0011 ahead of Brian Giles.
Ah, but sometimes walks can be deceiving. After all, some guys who appear to have good walk rates are really just hackers who get intentionally walked a lot.
Over the last three years, here are the leaders in total intentional walks:
Barry Bonds 164 Vladimir Guerrero 78 Manny Ramirez 67 Carlos Delgado 63 Sammy Sosa 61Bonds once again laps the field, with an average of 55 intentional walks per year since 2001. Vladimir Guerrero has been intentionally walked 78 times in three seasons, which is why, despite being a hacker, he ranks a relatively decent 71st overall in walks/plate appearance. However, 37.7% of his total walks were intentional, which is a huge amount.
In fact, here are the leaders in percentage of walks that were intentional:
Rey Ordonez 46.7% Vladimir Guerrero 37.7% Tomas Perez 35.3% Ichiro! 32.8% A.J. Pierzynski 32.1%That's basically a list of extreme hackers, and Rey Ordonez and Tomas Perez both also spent a lot time batting right in front of the pitcher in the NL, which will help anyone rack up intentional walks.
The guys with the lowest percentage of intentional walks are the guys who haven't been intentionally walked at all. Rickey Henderson, Tom Wilson, Carlos Febles, Jerry Hairston Jr., Tom Goodwin, Chris Woodward, David Eckstein, Luis Matos, Brandon Inge, Ramon Santiago, Ricky Gutierrez, Alex Sanchez and Jason Tyner all had zero intentional walks in three years.
That's a strange list. It's essentially a whole bunch of really fast guys who can't hit, with Brandon Inge and two guys who played for the Toronto Blue Jays (Wilson, Woodward) thrown in.
Also, I think it's pretty incredible that Bonds, despite leading the world in intentional walks by a massive margin, doesn't finish among the top five in percentage of walks that were intentional.
So, once we ignore everyone's intentional walks, here's what the new walking leaderboard looks like (non-intentional walks/plate appearance):
Barry Bonds .1967 Rickey Henderson .1686 Jeremy Giambi .1657 Jason Giambi .1610 Jim Thome .1540 Adam Dunn .1516 Brian Giles .1454 Erubiel Durazo .1436 Edgar Martinez .1433 Mark Bellhorn .1405Barry Bonds once again leads, but it's only by about 17% this time. The Giambi boys come in just behind Rickey Henderson, who jumps way up the list thanks to not having any intentional walks.
Of those top 10 guys, four of them played for Oakland at some point in the last three years and another one, Rickey Henderson, played 14 years with Oakland. Plus, the guy who ranked #11, Frankie Menechino, also played/plays for the A's.
Seven of the 10 are left-handed hitters, two are right-handed, and one is a switch-hitter. I'm not sure what that says, but it's kind of interesting.
Now, let's have a look at the hackiest of the hackers, the guys with the fewest non-intentional walks per plate appearance:
A.J. Pierzynski .0256 Cesar Izturis .0266 Rey Ordonez .0284 Randall Simon .0289 Bengie Molina .0289 Shea Hillenbrand .0296 Garret Anderson .0307 Deivi Cruz .0315 Rey Sanchez .0322 Sandy Alomar .0325That's an interesting mix of guys who simply can't hit and guys are very good hitters, but simply refuse to take any walks.
As a Twins fan, I knew A.J. Pierzynski was a hacker, but I didn't realize he was the hacker. Pierzynski had a total of 36 non-intentional walks in 1,407 plate appearances from 2001-2003, which is pretty amazing for a guy who also hit .301 with a .449 slugging percentage during that span.
Garret Anderson is even more amazing. Anderson drew a non-intentional walk in just 3.1% of his plate appearances since 2001, and still managed to hit .303 with a .518 slugging percentage.
If you were to put together an All-Hacker and All-Walker team, here's what they'd look like...
HACKERS C A.J. Pierzynski 1B Randall Simon 2B Cesar Izturis SS Rey Ordonez 3B Shea Hillenbrand LF Carl Crawford CF Corey Patterson RF Garret AndersonNow, I don't care if you call yourself a stathead or not, you can't possibly tell me that wouldn't be a fun team to watch. Their average game would probably be like an hour long.
WALKERS C Jorge Posada 1B Jason Giambi 2B Frank Menechino SS Mark Bellhorn 3B Robin Ventura LF Barry Bonds CF Brian Giles RF Rickey Henderson DH Jeremy GiambiIn addition to having Bonds, Giambi and Giles in the starting lineup, that team would also have guys like Thome, Adam Dunn and Edgar Martinez on the bench.
It's tough to find a catcher for the Walkers. Jorge Posada led all catchers in non-IBB/PA, but he ranked just 36th overall, whereas there were catchers all over the fewest-walks leaderboard.
Here's what I want to see happen...put those two teams on the field, with Brad Radke (1.20 walks per nine innings since 2001) pitching against the Hackers and Kaz Ishii (6.19 walks per nine innings career) pitching against the Walkers. Radke could probably go about 20 innings and there's a good chance Ishii wouldn't make it out of the first.
Forget all this baseball World Cup talk, let's make this happen.
Aaron Gleeman is a freelance writer whose work can also be found regularly at AaronGleeman.com, Fox Sports, Rotoworld, and Insider Baseball. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions via e-mail.
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