Five-walk games typically happen once or twice per year, and Mike Baxter’s Saturday against the Padres was even more unusual than most.
Baxter, the Mets’ right fielder, became the first player since Florida’s Ivan Rodriguez on April 8, 2003 to go 0-for-0 with five unintentional walks in a game.
The 27-year-old Baxter entered the night with eight walks in 71 at-bats and 43 games for the season.
Baxter was the second player this year with five walks in a game, but the Royals’ Alex Gordon had eight plate appearances when he did it in a 15-inning game against the Cardinals back on June 17. Gordon was also the last player to go 0-for-0 with five walks in a game, pulling it off on July 30, 2008. However, he was intentionally walked twice in that game.
That Ivan Rodriguez was the last player to go 0-for-0 with five unintentional walks should surprise most (it certainly did me). The free swinging catcher had just 446 unintentional walks in 10,270 career plate appearances, a rate of one unintentional walk every 23 plate appearances. He was uncharacteristically patient in 2003, setting a career high with 55 walks (six intentional). His next highest total was 41 walks (also with six intentional) from 2004.
If you’re still interested in more walk trivia, know that Baxter is the 86th different player since 1918 with five walks in a game. Mel Ott has the high total, with four such games. Barry Bonds is alone in second with three (with at least one intentional walk in all three). The only active players with two are Gordon and Mark Teixeira.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.
Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.
This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.
Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.
Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.
A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.