Know who walks a lot? Players with plate patience and good strike zone judgment Know who doesn’t walk a lot? Players with lousy plate patient or strike zone judgment. Both of those kinds of players are further impacted by playing for organizations which either encourage or discourage players who work the count.
Dayton Moore, general manager of the Kansas City Royals, however, thinks something else is at play with his team’s poor walk rates over the years: the ballpark:
“We have the largest ballpark in terms of square footage of any ballpark in baseball,” Moore says. “When pitchers come here, they have the mindset to use that park — put the ball in play, throw strikes, attack the zone. There isn’t the same fear factor of getting beat deep that you might have elsewhere.
“I think that plays a huge factor in that walk statistic.”
- Kansas City Royals walks at home in 2012: 202
- Kansas City Royals walks on the road in 2012: 202
- Kansas City Royals walks at home in 2011: 235
- Kansas City Royals walks on the road in 2011: 207
They had more walks on the road in 2010 than at home. They had a TON more walks at home than on the road in 2009. I’m not sure what exactly this all means, but I will say that blaming opposing pitchers’ approach at Kauffman vs. on the road doesn’t seem to carry a lot of explanatory juice.
What does is the fact that the Royals, as an organization, have never really valued players with plate discipline and have done things like sign Jeff Francoeur to multi-year deals. It’s also worth noting that back in the days of George Brett, Darryl Porter and Amos Otis, the Royals walked a lot. And played in the same ballpark.
So hey, if it makes you feel better to blame the park, Dayton, go ahead. Just please show us some evidence that the park is to blame.
The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.
So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.
I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.
Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.
All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?
Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.
Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.
Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.