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Reader Dissent: Craig, you don't know jack about walk rates

Oct 1, 2010, 12:34 PM EST

I'm not sure if this reader is right about me being wrong, but it sounds good enough to post. Maybe some of you can parse this better than me.

Like I said the other day, Comment of the Day is changing from a zone of mockery to one in which reader dissents and rebuttals — as well as people telling me to stick it where the sun don’t shine — are going to go. Actually, let’s just make “Reader Dissent” its own category, shall we?

Here’s a good one from Greg, in response to my Cliff Lee post, in which I said “guys take a ton more walks these days”:

That is a fairly drastic exaggeration.  In 1933 in the Major Leagues there were 7344 BBs taken over 94615 PAs for a 7.76% BB rate.  In 2010 that rate was 8.50%. An 8.7% increase in walk-rate is hardly “a ton.”

The idea walk rates have increased is, I feel, a side-effect of an increased focus on the walk.  We tend to notice more what we are
looking for.

Also, comparing BB/9 is misleading (3.0 in 1933 vs 3.3 in 2010) because more walks will increase the number of plate appearances per inning and lead to even more walks per inning. Thus BB/9 will increase at an exponential rate given a linear increase of BB/PA.  This effect is
shown in the 10% increase in BB/9 between 1933 and 2010 vs. that 8.7% increase in BB/PA.

I stand by the fact that Cliff Lee don’t walk no guys, but when you start talking about exponential vs. linear rates of increase of, well, anything, I quickly find myself out of my league.

  1. HomeHalfwayDotNet - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Don’t you love when you state something, and someone else takes it to the moon? Greg just blew my mind.

  2. Jonny5 - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    I may not be the smartest peanut in the turd, but isn’t this just taking it a little too far here? I do have to give props to Greg though for proving he is indeed one of the very brightest peanuts in this here turd. He may even be Cashew mat’l.

  3. adam - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    “more walks will increase the number of plate appearances per inning and lead to even more walks per inning”

    Isn’t that the same thing as saying “don’t walk anyone because it will bring another guy up to the plate who you could walk”? Kind of makes BB/9 seem reasonable.

  4. nps6724 - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    In statistics, isn’t 5% used as the level of significance? So wouldn’t 8.7% be considered significant considering it’s above that? So if it would be considered significant, I think “a ton” is accurate.

  5. Trevor B - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    I like how the point of your post, Craig, was to say that Cliff Lee isn’t walking guys at an astounding rate. Greg here just needed to put in a masterbatorial post to get his ego going. :-)

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Now, now: let’s be nice. I sincerely didn’t put this up to mock anyone. After I posted the last thing I did kind of question whether my characterization of walk rates was exaggerated. I’m glad that Greg put some context up about it.
    That’s really what I’m trying to do with the dissent feature.

  7. Gobias Industries - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Well, that’s the last time I read one of your comments while I’m eating my lunch.

  8. DiamondDuq - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Why is there no mention of today’s comparatively microscopic strike zone compared to the one that was used in 1933 and the one that is acutally in the rule book? It seems to me if you decrease the effective area of the strike zone by 50% and walks only increase by 8.7% it’s really not a difference at all.

  9. PestiEsti - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    Yes, but why use not 1933. Why not point out that walk rates were at their highest level in the late-1940s through the mid 1950s. Plus, this season doesn’t haven’t had particularly high walk rates by historical standards. Years with higher walk rates than this year: 1971, 1985, 1959, 1889, 1962, 1943, 1993, 1953, 2000 and about 50 more.

  10. Joe - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    It is kind of nitpicky – Craig’s point is still valid, just the magnitude is in question. However, I noticed that Greg used a number favorable to his argument. In 1933, there was a significant league split in walks issued. AL batters drew walks in 9.1% of their PAs, whereas in the NL, the league that Red Lucas was pitching in, the rate was 6.4%. Since Lucas wasn’t pitching to AL batters, I think it’s proper to exclude them from the discussion.
    (No such split exists in 2010, by the way. Each league comes in at 8.5%)
    8.5% vs. 6.4% is about 1/3 more walks. That probably qualifies as a ton.
    And Lucas walked 2.0% of the batters he faced, vs. the league average of 6.4%. His rate was 31% of the league average. Lee’s walked 2.14% of his batters faced, vs the league average of 8.50. He’s at 25%.
    Advantage, Cliff Lee.

  11. DiamondDuq - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    I guess I should have read the initial post before the Reader Dissent. While I hesitate to agree that guys take a ton more walks now than 77 years ago, I completely agree with the intent of Craig’s statement, that Lee’s feat is far more impressive today but due to the comparitively tiny strike zone and the tiny ballparks that encourage pitcher not to “pitch to contact”.

  12. Jonny5 - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    But his ERA has risen right along with his walk rate dropping so much. He needs to stop throwing so many strikes. It’s my belief he has sacrificed his ERA by throwing in the zone too much. He’s never had less than 33 walks in a season until now, and his ERA hasn’t been this high since 07. 16 hr’s isn’t a low number for him either which he now has.

  13. PestiEsti - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    Ignore the not in the first sentence.

  14. Utley's hair - Oct 1, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    It’s like you pulled that analogy out of your buttockal cavity.

  15. Utley's hair - Oct 1, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    Are IBBs included in this walk rate? If so, when comparing seasons or eras, shouldn’t the “Year of the Pitcher”–I’ve seen this year called that around here somwhere–have an effect on it? If not, carry on, because my head hurts with all these numbers. And all this talk of walking has me winded a bit–my booger-centric diet doesn’t lend itself well to lots of walking. Whew.

  16. Jonny5 - Oct 1, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Actually I try not to pull anything from there. If it needs pulling it can wait until tomorrow.

  17. Utley's hair - Oct 1, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    Ah…words to live by.

  18. BC - Oct 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    I wonder what the league rate was in the year that Barry Bonds walked like 230 times. He probably moved the needle up all on his own.

  19. mgflolox - Oct 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    You’re a helluva guy, Johnny5. In fact, if you were a turd, I’d be the first fly on ya.

  20. WildCardBraves - Oct 2, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    Bonds and needle and no mention of PED’s?

  21. WildCardBraves - Oct 2, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    A comment about Bonds and needles with no mention of PED’s? Genious!

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