Posted Under: Stat of the Week
On Monday we began to look at Walks and how they have played a prevalent role in a couple of no-hitters along with in the career of Hall of Fame pitchers such as Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Bob Feller.
Now I made reference to how even though the list of the top 5 most career walks allowed by a pitcher did not hinder any of those individuals as they all will be remembered forever in Cooperstown, on the other end of the spectrum the active pitchers with the lowest walk rates almost are among the elite pitchers of their generation.
In Baseball-Reference’s list of the pitchers with the lowest Bases on Ball per 9 Innings Pitched (BB/9), B-R extrapolates a pitcher’s career walk rate and much like Earned Run Average it is a weighted statistic as it projects how many walks a pitcher would give up on average if they threw 9 innings (9xBB)/IP.
The list of the top 5 is:
Roy Halladay, 1.846
Dan Haren, 1.890
Mark Buehrle, 2.029
Mariano Rivera, 2.044
Roy Oswalt, 2.089
All of these pitchers over the past 15 years have established themselves as among the best in MLB and are a testament to that having a low walk rate can also be beneficial.
Another pitcher that does not appear on this list but has been one of the most dominant pitchers the past 4 years is Cliff Lee. Although many people believe that Cliff burst onto the scene in 2008 when he posted a 22-4 record with the Indians, in 2005 he had a record of 18-5 and threw 202 innings. Surprisingly Cliff was demoted to the minors in 2007 and rediscovered himself and has reestablished himself as among the elite pitchers in the game. One of the reasons Cliff has been so effective is his low walk rate as during his Cy Young year in 2008 he allowed 34 walks in 223.1 IP, 2009 allowed 43 walks in 231.2 IP, 2010 allowed only 18 walks in 212.1 IP and last year 42 walks in 232.2 IP. Cliff’s low walk rates have allowed him to go deeper into games and be an elite pitcher.
So we’ve seen that if a pitcher has a high walk rate it is not necessarily a bad thing, and that it is beneficial for a pitcher to have a low walk rate over their career, so judging walks by themselves as a statistic doesn’t necessarily let you know the quality of the pitcher and that’s why in a couple of weeks we will look at statistics such as Strikeouts/Walk (K/BB) which have become more popular in evaluating pitchers.