The walk in baseball is running out of steam.
For debatable reasons, fewer batters are drawing walks this year, continuing a trend, while the number of strikeouts is soaring, according to CNBC.
A lot of baseball fans focus on strikeouts. But one expert — Ed Feng –offers a novel analysis.
“In Moneyball, we learned about on-base percentage as the most important stat. A hitter should get on base, even if it means taking a walk,” Feng said.
“The converse for pitching is that you shouldn’t walk guys. That just beefs up their OBP [on-base percentage],” he said. “If you look at some formulas for defense independent pitching, you find that not walking one batter is worth 50 percent more than striking that batter out.”
The hitters are blaming just about everyone but the hitters. Pitchers are too specialized, pitchers know how to throw offspeed junk for strikes, they’re bigger etc.
The Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana destroys all of those excuses. He can’t hit much anymore and keeps hitting into the insufferable “defensive shift” that’s all the rage now. But he leads the league in walks as he did a year ago, even though he’s facing the same too-specialized, off-speed-junk-for-strike-throwing, big pitchers that everyone else is.
One pitching coach says the problem with the hitters is they have no pride.
“I see it all the time with Clayton Kershaw, the hitters know a fastball is coming, and they still want to swing,” Rick Honeycutt of the L.A. Dodgers says.
Years ago, players didn’t want to strike out. Now, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.