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Hardball Times: Walks. Why they Occur.


weams

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http://www.hardballtimes.com/successes-in-walking/

As you can see, a particularly-gifted category of walkers settles in at a walk rate of 10 percent and above, populating the 75th percentile and up. Who are these exceptional walkers, and how do they do it in such a tough run environment?

There are, as it turns out, a few factors that drive a batter's success at walking. Some you would expect, others you wrongfully expected, and at least one you did not expect at all.

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Does it splain how guys like AJ and Schooper don't take more walks when the pitchers will just not want to challenge them? What is up with that?

I didn't read any of the article but if forced to may....:laughlol:

Well I read some of it and just don't get why Brett Freakin Gardner a punch and judy type hitter draws so many P/PA. He's a chump - why he vice Jon Schoop?

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A quick summary of what it takes to draw walks:

Pitches per Plate Appearance (P/PA)

I suspect that if readers had to vote on one factor most predictive of a player?s walk rate, they would pick this one: P/PA. It makes sense that taking more pitches would increase one?s walk rate, since taking a walk requires receiving at least four pitches per plate appearance, and against major league pitchers usually requires even more. But surprisingly, this factor is not that important...

Swings at Outside Pitches

The next factor is incredibly important: the tendency of a batter to swing at pitches outside the strike zone predicted by PITCHf/x. This is certainly not a surprise. Batters who swing at bad pitches are racking up strikes, not balls, and batters who are generous with their swings can be expected to get a steady diet of bad pitches.

Zone Percentage

A batter?s walk rate is also a function of how many strikes he gets get thrown in the first place. (t=9.2, SE=.05). This factor is not a surprise either, but that does not make it irrelevant. The extent to which a batter receives pitches in the zone is only somewhat related to the fortuity of his schedule. Generally, all major league pitchers have at least reasonable command. Thus, zone rate is driven substantially by the respect pitchers have for the batter in the box.

Zone-Contact %

The last category is without question my favorite. It was the unexpected one that I at first assumed had to be a mistake. What does making contact have to do with drawing walks, given that swinging the bat can only result in a strike? And why is a batter?s zone contact rate inversely related to his? That?s right: The worse a player is at making contact with strikes, the more he draws walks. Swing, miss, and draw walks.

All of these assertions are supported by data, but the above gives you the gist of what he found.

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A quick summary of what it takes to draw walks:

All of these assertions are supported by data, but the above gives you the gist of what he found.

I know "they" say you can't teach it but come on - can't the new sheriff in town teach it? Scott Sourbeer or whoever... SMH :scratchchinhmm:

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"OK... what I need you all to do is... miss all the strikes and don't swing at the balls... so, pretty much don't hit anything." :D

It doesn't sound like rocket science - how does Brett G do it. He's not a major threat but still sees a lot of pitches and finally gets one to hit. Schoop is a better athlete and player than BG. Learn it JS!

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I have a really dumb question: why wouldn't the success in walking be measured by something as simple as Number of Walks/(Number of PA - Number of hits) ? This would measure the percentage of walks per PA where the batter doesn't get a hit. For a more successful rating, the number of PA could be limited to over 50 (or 100 or whatever, some arbitrary number) to get a sufficient sample size.

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It doesn't sound like rocket science - how does Brett G do it. He's not a major threat but still sees a lot of pitches and finally gets one to hit. Schoop is a better athlete and player than BG. Learn it JS!

I know it is easy to forget with the immediacy of the internet and all, but JS hasn't had a chance to demonstrate what he learned in his first MLB season yet, while BG has 7 seasons under his belt. Garder has generally had a good OBP over the course of his career (albeit with nothing close to Schoops power, both current and potential - Schoop had more HR in his rookie age 22 season than BG had in his age 24 - 28 seasons COMBINED). BG has always been more of an OBP guy than Schoop projects, but in his rookie season he had a slash of .228/.283/.299/.582 (42 GP, 141 PA). I think it's not unreasonable to assume Schoop will be better in regards to average and OBP.

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I have a really dumb question: why wouldn't the success in walking be measured by something as simple as Number of Walks/(Number of PA - Number of hits) ? This would measure the percentage of walks per PA where the batter doesn't get a hit. For a more successful rating, the number of PA could be limited to over 50 (or 100 or whatever, some arbitrary number) to get a sufficient sample size.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, the article tackles the how of drawing walks rather than the raw results. So, success in drawing walks is measured by the per PA rate, as noted by this passage (quoted above):

As you can see, a particularly-gifted category of walkers settles in at a walk rate of 10 percent and above, populating the 75th percentile and up. Who are these exceptional walkers, and how do they do it in such a tough run environment?

The article uses BB/PA as the basis for assessing successful walkers, but the crux of the analysis is what those players do to achieve these results.

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A quick summary of what it takes to draw walks:

All of these assertions are supported by data, but the above gives you the gist of what he found.

Could the last item "Zone-Contact %" have something to do with three true outcome players? Admittedly I'm not through the article in full yet, but I'm thinking about a guy like Mark Reynolds. He has an 11.6% career BB rate. Maybe if he makes more contact, his batting average increases, his BB rate decreases (as more PA end earlier) and his overall OBP holds steady or maybe it moves (up or down depending on various factors). Lower contact rates aren't necessarily "better," however, if looking at walks in a vacuum, a lower contact rate could enhance those rates as plate appearances live to see another day at a higher rate. A 3-1 at bat that has a hit or in-play out cannot ever become a walk. A swinging strike, though, has the ability to become a BB with the count of 3-2. Per BB-ref (link below), in 2014 there were 11,803 PA with a full count in the AL. 3,488 of these PAs ended in a walk, good for a 29.6 BB rate. In this example 29.6% > 0% associated with a hit or out recorded in-play. Thus, it stands to reason that a swing-and-miss is conducive to a higher walk rate when looking at the numbers in the aggregate (as opposed to contact).

If one looks at true success rates, though, a swing-and-miss on a 3-1 lowers expected walk rate and OPS. 3-1 counts in the AL, those PA that ended on a 3-1 count, in 2014 had a 50.4 walk rate and an OPS of 1.273, compared to 0.794 on a full count.

Basically, a swing-and-miss or low zone-contact % doesn't "help" a player, but it is more conducive to a higher walk rate.

EDIT - Reading further, the author hit on what I described above.

The answer lies in part with our ?three true outcome? hitters. Many of these hitters are perceived as ?all or nothing? in their approach at the plate, because they struggle to make everyday contact with pitches. As such, to survive in the lineup between home runs, they almost need to have an elevated walk rate. In part, these sluggers benefit from a lower percentage of strikes in the zone, as shown above. But they also benefit from that same inability to make contact with pitches that are in the zone, thereby extending their at-bats and increasing the chance of drawing a walk. In other words, when it comes to drawing walks, these players succeed through failure.

I would take it a step further and state that a swing-and-miss has an absolute impact of a negative on walk rate, similar to the author's initial hypothesis. There is, however, a comparative advantage relative to those hitters with a high contact rate as it pertains to drawing walks as the drop in expected walk rate on a swinging strike is undoubtedly greater than the drop in expected walk rate on a ball put in play.

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The article uses BB/PA as the basis for assessing successful walkers, but the crux of the analysis is what those players do to achieve these results.
You have to subtract number of hits from the total number of PAs before calculating the walk ratio. For instance, Player A has 100 PAs, 30 of them are hits and 20 of them are walks. His walk ratio would be 20/(100 - 30) = 2/7. Player B has 100 PAs, 30 of them are hits and 10 of them are walks. His walk ratio would be 10(100-30) = 1/7. So Player A would have a greater walk percentage. You don't want to penalize a player for getting hits.
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