Walk this way
One of the things that seems to be constant every year is the walk totals of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. Those totals, for the most part, have been some of the highest in the American League for the past few years. Not coincidentally, the Sox, Yanks and A’s seem to be in the playoffs every season or at least in position to claim a spot. The ability to draw a walk however seems to be a lost art for the Tigers. At this point, the Tigers have drawn 287 walks on the season, putting them on pace to draw 415 at season’s end. To give you an idea of how low that total is, consider that in the last ten years, only two teams have drawn fewer than 415 walks in a season: the 2002 Tigers (363) and the 2001 Kansas City Royals (406).
Remember the old saying we used to use in Little League as kids, "A walk is as good as a hit?" Well, the Tigers are passing up a lot of "hits" this season. If you take the combined records of the top three teams in walks, you get an impressive 190-147 record. The combined records of the bottom three teams in walks meanwhile have a combined mark of 134-205. Are there exceptions to the rule? Of course. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Chicago Sox of White don’t walk much as a team and they are both in first place. However, they don’t strike out much either. Walks do much more than give a team a baserunner. Hitters that are willing to take walks often see better pitches. More walks also means a higher pitch count for the opposing starter, which means geting into the other team’s bullpen quicker. That may be the biggest benefit to walking. Afterall, the reliever is probably not as good as the starter, otherwise he’d be starting.
As the road trip continues, here’s a shot of the Rogers Center. It will always be Skydome to me.