The No Walks, No Strikeouts Clubs

Most teams have played ten games by now, and while we still are unable to draw anything meaningful out of players’ performances, we can still have a little fun with them. I’ve always been a fan of high-contact guys, especially players with better than average walk and strikeout rates. Guys who walk more than they whiff over a full season are my personal favorites.

With that in mind, let’s look at some players who haven’t done either yet this season, draw a walk or strikeout. We’ll begin with the five players with the most plate appearances who have yet to see a ball four in 2012…

PA wOBA Three-Ball Counts
Chris Johnson 43 0.325 4
Josh Hamilton 42 0.477 6
Michael Young 41 0.370 4
Brennan Boesch 41 0.232 3
Josh Reddick 39 0.278 6

Jesus Montero and Gaby Sanchez are tied for sixth with 37 walk-less plate appearances each. It’s all worth noting that A.J. Pierzynski has just one walk in his 29 plate appearances this year, but it was intentional.

The presence of Johnson and Reddick shouldn’t be a surprise. Both guys are notorious hackers, both throughout their short big league careers and all throughout the minors. It’s pretty interesting that two of the three non-walkers are Texas Rangers, but the lack of walks hasn’t exactly hurt Hamilton’s or Young’s production in the early going. Texas has the second lowest walk rate (4.9 BB%) in the American League at the moment, just ahead of the Mariners (4.6 BB%).

Seeing Boesch on the list is somewhat interesting even though he’s never been much of a walker in the past — 7.3 BB% in 1,025 MLB PA and 6.0 BB% in 1,957 MiLB PA. Boesch has batted second ahead of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in all but one of Detroit’s ten games this season, and although we know the impact of lineup protection is overstated, I do think it exists in the case of elite players. Cabrera and Fielder certainly qualify. Pitchers could be attacking Boesch just a little more than usual given the guys behind him, and when you throw strikes to a guy who likes to swing, it leads to a lot of balls in play.

Now let’s flip the coin and look at the players with the most plate appearances without a strikeout…

PA wOBA Two-Strike Counts
Marco Scutaro 38 0.277 15
Logan Morrison 30 0.303 12
Chris Denorfia 23 0.431 8
Nate Schierholtz 23 0.361 12
Erik Komatsu 11 0.365 4

Ben Revere also has eleven strikeout-less plate appearances this season, but I left him out of the table since he was recently shipped to Triple-A. There’s a pretty substantial drop-off after Schierholtz, with a whole bunch of guys in that 5-10 PA range. There are a few pitchers in there as well, namely Barry Zito and Kyle Lohse with six each.

Scutaro shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s always been a contact freak. His career strikeout rate is 11.3 K%, but last year with the Red Sox it was just 8.1% in 445 PA. The guy excels at putting the ball in play, even when staring at a two-strike count. The other three guys — leaving out Komatsu and his measly 11 PA — are a bit more surprising.

LoMo has always worked the count extremely well, but he owns 17.8 K% in 842 MLB PA to go with his 15.2 K% in the minors. Denorfia (15.9 K% in MLB and 15.3 K% in MiLB) and Schierholtz (16.1 K% in MLBand 16.7 K% in MiLB) are in the same boat, though they don’t share Morrison’s reputation for plate discipline, especially Schierholtz. That said, all three guys strike out at a rate lower than the ~18% league average, so they have shown above average contact skills in their relatively short big league careers.

It’s been 25 years since a player last started a season with 100 strikeout-free plate appearances. Mickey Hatcher did it for the 1988 Dodgers, going 116 plate appearances before finally seeing his first strike three. It was part of a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play. Because he was a part-time player that year, Hatcher’s first strikeout didn’t come until August 16th, the team’s 119th game of the season. Carlos Baerga came close to that 100 PA threshold, not striking out until his 96th plate appearances with the 1995 Indians. Given how the game has shifted towards pitching — particularly power pitching — in recent years, I don’t think we’re going to see another guy do what Hatcher did in ’88 for quite some time.




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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.


21 Responses to “The No Walks, No Strikeouts Clubs”

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  1. Feeding the Abscess says:

    Schierholtz has also not yet taken a walk. Sure, small sample size, but that’s still fairly impressive on some level.

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    • Cozar says:

      See, that’s what I thought this article was going to be, guys who have neither walked nor struck out. If Schierholtz has 23 straight balls-in-play, that’s far more interesting than just not striking out, even if it isn’t any more statistically relevant.

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      • Cozar says:

        Darn, the article clearly says “Clubs” rather than “Club,” so that’s my mistake.

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      • JimNYC says:

        I think a guy who puts the ball in play every single plate appearance would be the most exciting player in the world.

        Intuitively speaking, triples tend to be the single most exciting batter result (inside the park home runs tend to involve particularly bad defensive misplays, so they don’t really count… the most exciting plays are close plays at the plate, but a hitter rarely has control over those). So the most exciting player would be somebody who either gets a triple or gets thrown out extending a double every single plate appearance.

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    • Larry Yocum says:

      Schierholtz is so hacktastically bad. He doesn’t walk or strikeout because he has zero patience. He is the anti-Brandon Belt, but Belt will continue to the ride the pine if Schierholtz can sport a .270 average even though Belt could hit .250 with a .330 OBP and Bochey will still think Schierholtz or Huff is that much better even if Belt has an OBP 50 to 75 points higher but with more Ks.

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  2. Gregory says:

    I would like to blame Eric Wedge for the Mariners’ lack of walks.

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  3. swansok4 says:

    Thanks for this article. I too find players with very low BB and K rates interesting. When he was playing I was always fascinated with David Eckstein because of his ability to always put the bat on the ball.

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  4. Jay says:

    “It’s pretty interesting that two of the three non- are ”

    I see what you did there

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  5. Jay says:

    “It’s pretty interesting that two of the three non-walkers are Texas Ranges”

    I see what you did there. Also, I failed at figuring out how to make things bold.

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  6. monkey business says:

    It’s worth noting that in the case of Brennan Boesch, not only is he getting more strikes, but they are nastier b/c the pitcher wants to get him out for sure. Obviously, a pitcher can trade in some wear on the arm to get a guy out, they are probably doing that here. It will be interesting to see at the end of the season if pitchers are doing a good job of that, i.e. are they doing it less when there are two outs and nobody on and you might actually want to see a Cabrera in that situation rather than at the top of the order, followed by Fielder.

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    • Johnny Come Lately says:

      So if he didn’t hit ahead of Miggy and Fielder, the pitcher wouldn’t want to get him out for sure? If the pitcher really could “trade in some wear on the arm to get a guy out”, why would they waste that on a guy that’s not Miggy or Fielder?

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  7. Mark says:

    what is the league average walk rate?

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  8. D4P says:

    Juan Pierre has 1 K and 0 BBs in 24 PAs so far, and is putting up this lovely line:

    .292/.292/.292

    And he’s a starting leftfielder.

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  9. moosh says:

    Ya it looks like the gameplan vs. Boesch is: don’t walk him and throw as many off-speed pitches as possible.

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  10. Doug Decinces (nr) says:

    Alas, Jared Weaver struck out Josh Reddick last night.

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  11. chuckb says:

    On Boesch, it’s premature to say that he’s seeing more strikes due to the impact of Fielder and Cabrera. For one, though he is seeing more strikes so far than in previous years (his zone% is up to 47%), the big difference is that his contact % has increased substantially. Perhaps he’s not walking b/c he’s making so much contact that he never gets a chance to get to ball 4.

    It’s also worth noting that, in terms of zone%, he ranks 92nd out of 199 hitters, easily in the middle 5th of the number of strikes seen. It’s not like he’s seeing an inordinately high % of strikes. Finally, he’s not even seeing as many strikes as his pal, Cabrera, is seeing. If your theory were correct, Cabrera would be seeing fewer strikes than Boesch, not more.

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  12. antonio bananas says:

    I understand that a walk and a single have the same value from the perspective of you scoring, but shouldn’t a single have more value overall because on the chance that someone is on 2nd or 3rd they’re likely to score on a single?

    Also, I don’t buy that a K and any other out are the same. You can’t advance runners or score anyone on a K. you can with a deep groundout to the right side or a deep flyball. Thus, guys who don’t K very much should have more value than a similar player who Ks a lot.

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    • J.Ro says:

      Yes, a single has more value than a walk. That’s why it gets a greater coefficient in wOBA. Who said they were the same?

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    • kardo says:

      What you did not take into account is that with a strikeouts effectively eliminate the possibility of a double play which you have with a ground out or a caught liner.
      And since double plays are more common than sacrifice flies, strikeouts might be even more valuable than regular outs.

      Of course the major downside of striking out is that there is also no chance of getting a hit or reach on an error, so it is almost always better to just put the ball in play.

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