Ted Williams and perception

A first ballot Hall of Fame player, Ted Williams was a generational hitter. Should you have the pleasure of looking at his player page on Fangraphs, you will notice an extensive list of absurd numbers. Consider his 1941 season, which is often noted for being the last time a player hit .400 in a full season. He amassed a .406/.553/.735 slash line, good for a .565 wOBA and a 221 wRC+. He walked 147 times, and struck out just 27 times. Combining his incredible offensive contributions with defense and position, he totaled 11.9 WAR in that season alone.

And that wasn’t even his best year.

According to wRC+, his 1957 season was better, and according to WAR, his 1942 and 1946 seasons were better. Had he not fought in World War II, he may have increased his career WAR total by as much 33(!) wins, assuming an 11-win true talent level (probably generous). He finished with only 139.8 WAR, and if we add in his estimated missed value that figure increases to 172.8, which would be second all time. He was a pure hitter in every sense of the word, and was both a student and teacher of the game. An expert on hitting if there ever was, he wrote a book on the subject, The Science of Hitting.

In his book he has an interesting graphic of his estimated batting average in each area of the strike zone, which you can see below:

image

*From page 39 of The Science of Hitting.

Ted Williams, maker of the first heat map. As much of an expert as he was, this is not a realistic graphic, as you will see later. It’s also pretty hard to see the numbers so I have recreated the graphic, which you can see below. I have also made the following graphic from the catcher’s perspective, as that is the perspective that is used today in PITCHf/x analysis. Black indicates areas where Williams hits the best, white indicates areas where he hit the worst.

image

As you can see, he was very confident about his abilities on pitches in the middle of the zone and on pitches up in the zone, and was very bearish on his ability to hit pitches low and away. The differential is extreme. In his best zones he hits .400, and in his worst zone he hits just .230, for a difference of .170. Here is the graphic for the average lefty in 2011:

image

Note that this is for batting average, not batting average on balls in play. The numbers are high because strikeouts are not included.

Just as in Williams’ graphic, batters do perform best on pitches that are in the middle of the plate. However, the differential between the best area (.340) and the worst area (.250) is .090, much less than Williams’ estimation for his own strike zone. Of course it’s possible that Williams’ graphic is 100 percent accurate; there are no data to refute his claims. However, given how lefties perform today, it seems that his perception of his performance is not accurate. He is likely overestimating his ability in the middle of the zone and underestimating his ability at the edges of the zone, especially down and away.

To demonstrate this point, here is a graphic that shows the difference between Williams’ estimated batting average and the average 2011 lefty’s batting average.

image

Blue indicates locations where Williams performed better than average, red indicates areas where he performed worse, and white indicates areas where performed the same as the average 2011 lefty.

I have made no adjustments to account for differing run environments. But that’s kind of the point. No matter what run environment, Ted Williams should be above average in all areas of the strike zone. The fact that this is not the case is a failure of our perception of baseball performance. Announcers love to harp on about how pitchers “can’t leave the ball up” or “can’t throw that down the middle of the plate.” While there is some truth to these statements, in reality performance is much closer to the sobering doctrine of DIPS. The effect of pitch location on batting average, and especially batting average on balls in play, is really quite small.

It may be hard to grasp the randomness in baseball, but it is present in all areas of the sport and typically in quantities that we underestimate; Williams’ graphic just serves to underscore this point. Despite this ever apparent truth we often strive to find trends, something easy to hold onto and to explain away the mystery that randomness brings. I know that I am guilty of this trend-searching when there is often is none to be found.

References & Resources
*The Science of Hitting
*PITCHf/x data from MLBAM via Darrel Zimmerman’s pbp2 database and scripts by Joseph Adler/Mike Fast/Darrel Zimmerman.
*Fangraphs

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Comments

  1. tangotiger said...

    Good stuff.

    The reason that Williams is showing a wider difference than the “average” is that the average well… averages out the differences.  If you have one guy who prefers high, and another guy who prefers low, then the average would cancel those out!

    What you should do is look at individual hitters, and see what their ranges are.  And report those.

  2. Josh Weinstock said...

    Well that assumes that batters do actually have high-ball or low-ball preferences. I’m not saying they don’t have preferences, but right now I’m not entirely sure that they do.

    And if they do have preferences, that’s already implicitly included because the batter has to put the ball in play for the numbers to be in the graph. For them to put the ball in play they obviously have to swing, and you would think that they would only be swinging at pitches that they want to hit.

    Of course they don’t always have a choice (or they may choose wrongly), so if there are batters with real preferences than there will be some effect like you mention.

    That might be material for another post. I’m not sure how large of a sample you would need to detect that kind of thing. I mean if a batter had a really large preference, then that probably means that they have a really large weakness as well, meaning that they probably don’t play in the majors.

  3. Josh Weinstock said...

    Err…I guess batter height would make a difference as well. Even so Ted Williams should still be better everywhere, assuming of course that DIPS has always existed in a similar capacity to how it does now.

  4. aweb said...

    This is a situation where league averages are not helpful – individual players almost certainly show a wider variance than the league averages.

    Does Williams’ self-assessed heat chart fall outside of the deviations from normal (best-worst areas) seen on a player-by-player basis? That is the question you need to go after here. Individuals always look noisier than the average. A bit of a stats fail here – it’s a good start, but you need to compare Williams to the individuals, not the averages.

    For Instance, I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all to think that on waist high pitches in the middle of the zone, Williams may have hit .400. The guy hit .340 in his career, that’s not a huge difference. Or at least it doesn’t seem like one.

  5. Josh Weinstock said...

    Yes, looking at individual player variance is definitely something I need to look into more.

    And Williams being a .400 hitter in the middle of the zone is probably reasonable, but I doubt him hitting .230 anywhere is reasonable.

  6. Craig Burley said...

    “Well that assumes that batters do actually have high-ball or low-ball preferences. I’m not saying they don’t have preferences, but right now I’m not entirely sure that they do.”

    You don’t think there are high-ball and low-ball hitters?

    I am… flabbergasted.

  7. Josh Weinstock said...

    High-ball/low-ball preferences is something that’s going to be reflected in where they swing more than batting average/babip performance. As to whether or not certain batters do have concentrated babip strengths that significantly differ from the average: I’m sure that’s possible (perhaps likely), but right now that’s just an assumption (correct me if I’m wrong about that). I haven’t seen any research about that.

  8. Charley Walter said...

    I’m pretty sure that Williams compiled that graphic fairly late in his career (post 1950), and that it reflected the result of breaking his elbow in the 1950 All Star game.

  9. Jim said...

    I’m kind of shocked that you didn’t mention the fact that Williams fought in TWO wars—WWII and Korea. You give him 33 WAR for the time he lost to WWII, but he probably lost another 13 WAR or so in 1952 and 1953 for time spent fighting in Korea.

  10. Josh Weinstock said...

    Yea, I can do slugging percentage on balls in play. Would you like me to email this to you? I don’t think I can post images in the comments directly.

  11. matt roti said...

    Yeah Ted (from my readings) was one crazy SOB, and probably the greatest hitter of all time. Given his many walks, he naver had 200 hits, and given his war duty he only amassed 2700+ career hits. Shows how some stats can be deceiving. Shame about how he was exploited by his son toward the end. Great book “The Teammates” about Ted and 3 friends on the Sox.

  12. Marc Schneider said...

    Williams actually only “fought” in the Korean War where he flew bombing missions over North Korea (and barely got back after one mission).  IN WW II, he was a flight instructor, but was preparing to ship out when the war ended. Obviously, this doesn’t detract from his service or obviate the fact that he lost years of time in or close to his prime.

    One of the points that I suspect Williams was making with the charts was the importance he placed on only swinging at good pitches.  His argument, I think, is if you swing at pitches out of your “happy zone” you aren’t going to do as well.  If you swing at a pitch low and away you aren’t going to do as well. Williams may well have underestimated his ability to hit what he considered tough pitches, but the point is, he had the discipline to generally avoid swinging at those. 

    I understand the randomness argument but I don’t think it’s completely accurate.  Obviously, some pitches are easier to hit than others and some hitters do better on particular pitches. That doesn’t mean they always get hit; a lot depends on the stuff of the pitcher, what the hitter is looking for, etc.  Even a great hitter is more likely to make an out than to get a hit on any given pitch, but it seems to me the odds are going to increase if you swing at pitches that are easier to hit.

    And, yes, “The Teammates” is a truly great book.

  13. Robert H. Bonter said...

    The proliferation of walks, so many intentional, garnered by the great hitters – over 2000 career walks issued to The Babe and The Ted, makes me wish baseball, a century ago, had eliminated the walk from the game, by insisting that all batters either strike out, or put the ball in play. You didn’t, back then, take your family to the ballpark to see The Babe or The Ted intentionally walked. You paid your money to see them swing the bat and make a difference in the game’s outcome.

    On a HBP, I would have the batter who is plunked   stay at the plate as the hitter, and have someone/anyone designated on the bench inserted as a runner at first base, with the count reverting to 0-0.  If the batter cannot continue in the game, the pinch runner is given second base, with all other runners moving up, accordingly.

    Oh well, who am I to suggest that Babe, Ted, Mickey and Willie, all the way to A-Rod and Albert, should get to swing the bat every time they come to the plate?  Rules committees have better things to think about.  I am certain that putting more people into the seats and ensuring that .225 hitters with no power get to hit in lieu of future Hall of Famers getting to hit with the game on the line, are not among them.

    Optimal marketing of the product is for the commercial TV people, anyway, these days, not baseball people who merely own the teams and pay the freight.

  14. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Footnote:  So it can be said that wartime service is not primarily what prevented Ted from amassing 3,000+ lifetime hits, because if he had never walked, he would have stroked 600+ more career hits, and of course, been designated A.L. batting champion in 1954, which he missed out on because he was walked as a defensive strategy, and took so many walks on his own to help his team.  Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

  15. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Rob,

    That’s pretty absurd, to be honest. If Pujols couldn’t walk, the incentive to throw him a strike would be?…

  16. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Read it again.  You retire a batter by striking him out or via his making out on a ball in play.  This also speeds up the game because the pitchers would now have every incentive to go right after the hitters, not throw pitches out of the strike zone which serve no purpose.

    The game needs speeding up.  They used to routinely get their work done in about 1:45.  Now 3+, even 3 1/2 hour games are the norm.  Something has to be done to counter all the manager moves and all the commercial delays in these games. It has gotten way over the top.  They can’t even schedule back-to-back doubleheader games, anymore.  No one is going to hang around a ball park for eight+ hours of commerical breaks and managerial chess matches.

    Look, no one has ever before advanced the proposition that walks be banished from the game,  this is my original idea. You want to use the word “absurd,” so do I – how about the sport having a rule which takes the bat out of the greatest hitters throughout the history of the game, as a concession to “strategy.” 

    Yes, Derek, you are entitled to your opinion.  You want to see sloppy, walk-filled games, plus you prefer to see Albert and A-Rod walk, rather than cut for the fences with first base open and the game on the line, more power to you.  I know where I stand.

    I do have great respect for your contributions to baseball’s wealth of knowledge.  In fact I was trying to find more of your work via Google, just yesterday. Brilliant, instructional communication of your command of the subject matter, I respectfully give you that.

  17. Mastro said...

    “Read it again.  You retire a batter by striking him out or via his making out on a ball in play.  This also speeds up the game because the pitchers would now have every incentive to go right after the hitters, not throw pitches out of the strike zone which serve no purpose.”

    So the pitcher will continually try to hit the outside part of the plate and get the hitter to chase.  A good hitter (or even a terrible one with a half a brain)will wait for his perfect pitch.  Maybe a 100 pitches a batter if the hitter is patient.

    Your idea to speed the game has now created a cricket match (they last days) – and teams will need a huge bullpen.

    Your HBP rule changes would probably result in an intentional hit of the best hitters.  Especially with two outs no one on- why wouldn’t you hit them?

    You are gutting a sport for something that happens maybe once a game.  You don’t walk a great hitter if he has another behind him- you are just adding to the run total.

  18. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Good points I did think of, but did not digress upon.  Stringent rules/fines would certainly be necessary to ensure pitchers do not go “head-hunting” vs. star hitters.  In so far as the pitchers “wasting pitches,” the byword would be “economy.”  All the incentive is to go right after the hitter, and, by the way, hitters not “working the count” for a walk would represent as big a time savings as any other factor mentioned.

    I still maintain the upside here to eliminating the walk is ENORMOUS:  All players always get to swing the bat – you did want to see The Babe in the old days, and the greatest hitters of today put the ball in play vs. seeing them walked, right?  Games are speeded up, perhaps by as much as an hour, by today’s standards.  It reduces the number of umpire strike zone mistakes. They have been known to “squeeze” certain pitchers they don’t like, who show them up, at times.

    I will give you this, NOTHING is 100 per cent. There is always a give back for anything gained.  I see this as about a 60-40 win, if not more, but a case can always be made against it. Just don’t hand me a “tradition” objection, baseball is so unrecognizable today, as per structure, expansion, championship format, DH rule, etc., any touting of “tradition” as a case against positive change suggestions, is hollering down a rain barrel.  Baseball’s one tradition, these days, is giving network television unilateral control of the sport on a silver platter.

    Experimenting with a “no walk” rule could be interesting in computer-simulation and baseball board games of the APBA, Strat-O-Matic variety.  I am just open to fresh, new ideas, and this is one which may have considerable merit.  But then, years ago I proposed to some influential basketball people the elimination of the foul shot or “free throw” as they like to call it.  That got about as far as a quarter will get you in a New York City taxi.  So who am I to suggest anything radical?

  19. Robert H. Bonter said...

    One critical point you missed, Mastro – the batter who is hit by a pitch, does not walk, he remains at the plate as the hitter, with someone off the bench taking first base, in that situation. So that, if A-Rod gets plunked with no one on base, Gardner, ro someone off the bench is inserted at first base, so that now A-Rod is batting with a runner on first base.  Got it? And if A-Rod cannot continue in the game, the pinch runner is given SECOND BASE.  Got it?  And if A-Rod misses a few games the pitcher who plunked him misses the same time frame, GOT IT?  If not, get it.

  20. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Also, I should emphasize this point, called strikes are still part of the game. So no pitcher is going to deliberately throw voluminous “wasted” pitches.  You foul off two pitches, you then swing and miss, you are out. You have a two-strike count and then strike three is called, you are OUT.  I apologize if I glossed over this point because it is critical.  So that the count will always be either no strikes, one strike, two strikes, or three strikes, you are out.

    So that three things will happen on each at bat.  1. A strike out; 2. An out recorded on a batted ball put into play; or, 3.  A safe hit by the batter.  Just no walks ever involved.

  21. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Robert,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Here’s the point that you are missing – if there was incentive to go “right after” the elite hitters in the game, the concept of the walk would never be instituted in the first place…

    I’m wildly speculating here, but put yourself in the mind of somebody inventing baseball. Like most games, baseball presumably evolved organically, the modern product being the result of many rules that were enacted through it’s evolution. Think about the infield fly rule – that probably was not in the mind of the game’s inventor. Then somebody dropped a infield pop w multiple runners on, on purpose, and ppl realized, oh snap, we should prevent that from happening.

    The concept of the walk exists specifically because in it’s absence, the entire game becomes a war of patience and a chess match. Imagine Miguel Cabrera up with the bases loaded in the late innings of a key divisional match up late in the season – when exactly would the pitcher decide it a better idea to fire one right down the middle as opposed to continue trying to entice Miggy to swing at a pitch out of the zone. …As long as I keep throwing balls out of the strike zone, there are no negative ramifications – I can only get hurt if I throw a batter something he wants to swing at. That’s a one-sided incentive structure, and there is almost no chance it would manifest differently than Mastro proposes, and exceedingly likely that this tweak would substantially lengthen games. …Unintended consequences, as they say in economics, when you unintentionally tweak the incentive structure opposite of original intent.

    …Because I’m sort of a masochist, I’d be interested to hear your alternative to free throws, though. …I’ll meet you halfway on this one – I certainly wouldn’t mind if they repealed individual foul limits and made it so nobody ever fouled out – the punishment for the foul is inherent in the rule. …Perhaps, they could award 3 free throws for team or individual fouls past a certain number. At the very least, players must be given extra fouls in overtime periods; I have no idea why this isn’t a completely self-evident amendment to the rules.

  22. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Derek – Re “going after the hitters,” the incentive for the pitcher is not to have to throw 10+ pitches to each batter. You almost HAVE to at least work the corners, and there would never be any purpose to “wasting a pitch.”  Anyway, no-walk rule baseball will never be instituted, so we are indulging in mental gymnastics, here.

    As regards no foul shot basketball…  Many years ago I sent a detailed proposal to Digger Phelps, of Penn and Notre Dame coaching fame. Predictably no response, but here is the gist of the idea…

    A team comes into possession of the ball with two points potential for a basket.  Any kind of defensive foul raises the scoring potential on this possession to three points.  Another foul before the possesion is relinquish makes it a four-point possesion, etc. with no upper limit. Conversely, if an offensive foul is committed, the scoring potential is reduced by one point.  If it drops to zero, its a turnover, with the other team inbounding the ball.

    So that, if your team has, say, five points scoring potential on the board, and you shoot and score, you add five points to your team score, an your individual point total. You miss a five-point shot, you could be debeted as 0-5 shooting, in that situation, which would put some restraint on selfish “gunning” for added points.  This would also obviate the need for the 24-second clock – and artificial device, at best, as with added scoring potential on the board, players are not going to fool around with too much passing, and who would pass up the chance at scoring a five-point shot with a direct line to the basket?

    This would also serve the magnificent purpose of eliminating the three-point shot line, as a layup could be worth five or more points, while a 30-foot shot could be worth merely one point.  The three-point shot rule from mid-range is a travesty, same as the parade to the foul line is a travesty, both of which serve to reduce basketball to, by far, the least compelling major sport to watch and attach credibility to as regards the outcome of these games.

    If you shoot and miss, but get the offensive rebound, the scoring potential remains the same, as is does until the defensive team advances the ball beyond the mid-court time line.

    I might note that there was a game last November, I think it was Nets at Clippers, in which there were 80(!) foul shots attempted.  This is extreme, of course, but what a preposterous joke on the public paying good money to see the game, with this silly constant parade to the foul line. (It’s also a good case for reverting to two officials.)

    No foul shooting stoppages would speed up the game, thus bringing the benches into more focus and playing time, and resting the regulars more, which would help, given the heavy schedule and the travel demands across time zones.

    So long as foul shots are part of the game, I do have a suggestion for that, too. That is, instead of a player shooting two foul shots, have the player shoot ONE SHOT worth two points. And instead of a player shooting three shots each worth one point, have the player shoot ONE SHOT worth three points. Why not speed up the most vexing drudgery in all of sports?  But again, my premise here is to eliminate the shooting of foul shots, altogether.  The game would be “cleaner” and much more attractive to watch, unless there is a dissenting vote from someone who enjoys watching 80 stationary shooting attempts with an average 80 per cent success rate, as a masochistic recreational pastime.

  23. Chad Evely said...

    Josh: Very interesting article.  I really enjoyed it.

    Per the argument/discussion in the comments: In a Joe Posnanski podcast I listened to awhile ago, Bill James proposed a pretty interesting solution to the problem of the best hitters walking too often.  His proposal is that a batter has the ability to decline a walk.  If the walk is declined, the count resets and the at bat begins anew, with one twist: if the batter walks again, he would get two bases.  Although James didn’t say so specifically, I assume this could continue on to a third and fourth base as well.

    While I admit this would never be implemented, it’s a pretty interesting concept to think about.  It probably wouldn’t even come up that often, but would be an extremely interesting strategic decision.

  24. Chad Evely said...

    I don’t have the energy to continue following this thread; it’s pretty exhausting.  I just think the declined walk leading to two bases idea is an interesting one.

  25. Robert H. Bonter said...

    I will make my final point as follows:  I would like to see the result of these games determined by the battle between the pitcher and the hitter, not by the competition between the pitcher and the HP umpire with the hitter merely and onlooker. Thank you.

  26. Robert H. Bonter said...

    I like it, with modifications.  Walking a batter “twice” would give us too many four hour+ ball games. I would have the batter allowed to decline a walk BEFORE his at bat begins. That would actually simulate the “no walk” condition I propose.  Again you have the question as to what to do re a hit batter, in that situation. 

    I don’t care for two bases being awarded, in this case, at all, but if a batter can decline the walk before he steps into the batter’s box, it becomes a moot point.

    It would also be really interesting where the batter and the manager disagree.  Batter doesn’t want to walk, manager does, manager has to have the final say, but in that case you would see the batter swinging away early in the count, like crazy.

  27. Chad Evely said...

    Robert: I’m not sure this idea would increase the length of games very much.  The whole idea of an intentional walk – be it an official IBB or just pitching around the batter – is that the pitching team considers that particular batter’s AB to be more valuable than a free base.  The only time the batting team would decline this would be late in games in key situations when they have the opposite view.  There have been many studies showing that, with the exception of some extreme situations, a walk is almost always more advantageous to the offense than an AB.  That a walk is valuable can also be seen by the importance now placed on OBP.

    If I understand your idea for changing the idea, allowing the batter to decline the walk before his at bat would defeat the whole purpose.  Once the “second” AB begins, there is much greater pressure on the pitcher to not walk the batter.  If a batter were to decline the walk initially, that penalizes the pitcher for a decision made by the batter.  Why wouldn’t the batter always decline the walk before his at bat, making every walk worth two bases? 

    I would think that HBPs could be treated the same as walks… allow the batter to decline, making the next walk and/or HBP worth two bases.

    In any case, if lowering the length of games is the goal, I’d think there a bunch of factors that would play a much bigger role than overhauling the walk rule without having such a huge effect on the fundamentals of the game.  Namely: tighten rules for mound visits / pitching changes; don’t allow batters to step out of batter’s box between pitches; limit pitchers’ time between pitches; limit pick-off throws to first.

    If you haven’t already, I’d recommend reading Bill James’ Historical Baseball Abstract.  He has some interesting thoughts on shortening games and gives some historical background on the walk, back to the days when a walk was 9 balls and the batter could tell the pitcher whether he prefered a high pitch or a low pitch… very interesting stuff.

  28. Robert H. Bonter said...

    A walk AFTER THE FACT, is more important than an AB, before the fact, because, of course, an AB can disintegrate into an out, even a DP, even a fly ball out/double play at HP, etc.

    I have seen the regression value of a walk pegged as low as .38 run, by David Gassko of Hardball Times.  My own research pegged the value of a walk at .50 run, slightly less than a single, in that a single can move a runner from first base to third base. 

    I just don’t like the basic concept of a walk, which is tied far too significantly, to my mind, to the outcome of too many games. The Mets winning run just last night, scored as the lead run in via a bases loaded walk.  Now I definitely want to see batted balls in play in that situation, deciding the issue one way or another, rather than a team winning as the result of a batter standing in there with the bat on his shoulder.  Either that or we should call it “Walk Ball,” not baseball. 

    Most major sports are filled with arbitrary,  gimmicky, game-deciding rules.  The walk in baseball; the foul shot in basketball; the hideous shootout in hockey, as well as it’s pulling the goaltender/free power play insanity; and that two- point conversion option in football, which draws a team scoring three TD’s and kicking two FG’s even with a team scoring four 7-point TD’s.  When do we give the outcome of these games back to the players and tilt the outcome of these games away from myopic rules committees? 

    Issues and challenges with making major changes?  Yes, and they are formidable, and who among us can agree on all the finer points of contention?  I just think they could be doing a lot more on behalf of the players and the fans to ensure more equitable rather than expedient to TV “excitement” outcomes.

  29. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Chad you are right as regards better ways to reduce the extended time factor in these games.  Getting into that, if fact, is getting away from my bottom-line premise here as regards making a case for not taking the bat out of the hands of the greatest players in the game, throughout the game’s history, when the game is on the line. That is sheer artistic and “marketing” madness.  “Hey, bring your family out to the ballpark to see Ted Williams hit, unless of course he is walked three or four times.”  Right.

  30. Marc Schneider said...

    I don’t see the big deal about walks.  It’s not as if Albert Pujols walks every time up.  As far as taking the bat out of the best hitters’ hands, so what?  It’s strategy.  The game isn’t just about what the best players do. 

    The games are too long but, as someone above mentioned, there are lots of ways to remedy that without making such a fundamental change to the game.  I’m not against change per se, but this game is 150 years old; taking walks out of it would make me feel like it’s a different game.

    And it makes no sense to compare walks to foul shots.  Basketball, especially in college, often becomes a free throw shooting contest late in games.  But baseball games don’t normally become walk games.  So, some games end on walks; they could also end on a wild pitch or an error.  So what? 

    I think walks reward a batter for discipline and penalize a pitcher for wildness.  It would be one thing if the best hitters never got to hit, but Albert Pujols hit back-to-back walk off homers earlier this season.  It doesn’t sound like he never gets to hit.

    Obviously, to each their own, but I don’t want to see walks eliminated.  But I would like to eliminate the left-handed specialist reliever who pitches to one batter.  Things like that are what extends the game and, more generally, the use of relief pitchers, and pitchers standing around on the mound for an eternity.  Let’s change that.

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