Reader Dissent: Craig, you don't know jack about walk rates

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Like I said the other day, Comment of the Day is changing from a zone of mockery to one in which reader dissents and rebuttals — as well as people telling me to stick it where the sun don’t shine — are going to go. Actually, let’s just make “Reader Dissent” its own category, shall we?

Here’s a good one from Greg, in response to my Cliff Lee post, in which I said “guys take a ton more walks these days”:

That is a fairly drastic exaggeration.  In 1933 in the Major Leagues there were 7344 BBs taken over 94615 PAs for a 7.76% BB rate.  In 2010 that rate was 8.50%. An 8.7% increase in walk-rate is hardly “a ton.”

The idea walk rates have increased is, I feel, a side-effect of an increased focus on the walk.  We tend to notice more what we are
looking for.

Also, comparing BB/9 is misleading (3.0 in 1933 vs 3.3 in 2010) because more walks will increase the number of plate appearances per inning and lead to even more walks per inning. Thus BB/9 will increase at an exponential rate given a linear increase of BB/PA.  This effect is
shown in the 10% increase in BB/9 between 1933 and 2010 vs. that 8.7% increase in BB/PA.

I stand by the fact that Cliff Lee don’t walk no guys, but when you start talking about exponential vs. linear rates of increase of, well, anything, I quickly find myself out of my league.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”

Brock Holt has been shut down from game activity

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Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.

Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.