clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Walk Gap

When I grew up, I learned baseball statistics from the back of baseball cards, like this 1986 Topps Darryl Strawberry card:

via Darryl Strawberry Fields

Sure, walks were listed, but on-base percentage was nowhere to be found.  Batting average was still king of my world in those days.  Over the years, thanks to the writings of Bill James, Rob Neyer, Baseball Prospectus, and many others, I came to appreciate the finer points of baseball statistics.  The importance of the walk became more apparent to me.

When I think of the term patience, as it relates to baseball, I don't necessarily mean for it to be players simply looking for a walk.  Rather, patience is working the count to your favor, so you can get more good pitches to hit, and when you get those more hittable pitches, hammer them.  However, a byproduct of patience is in fact the almighty walk.

It may seem as I'm a bit obsessive about walks.  I issued the 50-walk challenge to the Dodgers, and my first article ever at True Blue LA was about walks.

The Dodgers are leading the major leagues in walks taken, with 213.  It's a main reason their offense has been so good, averaging 5.7 runs per game.  As good as it is to get walks offensively, it's understandable that it's less desirable to give walks.  This is one of the rare cases where it isn't better to give then receive.

Dodger pitchers have given up 196 walks, third most in baseball.  Only the Nationals (202) and Florida (200) have issued more free passes.  However, the Dodgers have taken more walks than they have given, so their "walk gap" is a +17.

Here's how the Dodgers rank among all major league teams:

Team Batting Pitching Walk Gap
Twins 180 131 +49
Rockies 179 142 +37
Blue Jays 176 143 +33
Mets 195 170 +25
Brewers 191 166 +25
Rays 203 179 +24
Red Sox 184 166 +18
Dodgers 213 196 +17
D-Backs 169 152 +17
Phillies 174 160 +14
Cardinals 160 146 +14
Braves 169 161 +8
Royals 154 153 +1
Yankees 180 181 -1
Indians 193 195 -2
Angels 150 152 -2
A's 157 160 -3
Tigers 151 154 -3
Nationals 198 202 -4
Orioles 147 152 -5
Cubs 165 171 -6
Padres 167 182 -15
Rangers 131 146 -15
Reds 162 180 -18
White Sox 139 158 -19
Astros 142 162 -20
Marlins 177 200 -23
Pirates 144 170 -26
Mariners 121 177 -56
Giants 117 181 -64

Is the walk gap all that important?  Scientifically, I doubt it, but it stands to reason that it's better to have more walks offensively than while pitching, so it would seem the higher the positive walk gap the better.  Plus, it's never a bad thing to highlight a stat that in which the Giants are dead last.