It’s amazing to consider, but some major league regulars are yet to take ball four and their free base. Okay, I lied, it’s not “some” as much as “a pair”. Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and Giants backstop Bengie Molina have appeared at the plate a collective 100 times entering Wednesday’s games, and combined had zero walks. Zero intentional walks, zero hit by pitches, etc.
Neither of them are all too fond of OBP boosting. Molina’s career BB% is 4.1% and Betancourt’s is 3%.
In fact, Betancourt’s career high in walks in a single season is 17, the same number that current walk champion Adam Dunn had entering Wednesday’s games. Yeah, he really is that impatient.
Given Betancourt’s distaste for the walk, it’s no surprise that he’s only seen four counts go to three balls, with only one of those being a non-full count. Heck, this isn’t even Betancourt’s longest dry spell in the past calendar year. Last season, from April 29th until May 28th Betancourt went 103 plate appearances in between walks.
Remember, this is a hitter with a career batting average of .283, slugging percentage of .401, and .301 batting average on balls in play. This is not Ichiro Suzuki or Vladimir Guerrero, this is a below average hitter refusing to take a free base. When combined with poor defense, it’s easy to see why most Mariner fans would enjoy seeing Ronny Cedeno starting at shortstop.
Players can be offensive contributors without walking like Dunn or Pat Burrell, but not walking at all makes it nearly impossible. Of the 33 players with 5% or less walks this season, 24 have negative wrAA. Here’s a look at how the two are correlating thus far:
And there you see our pals Molina and Betancourt, both spared too much ridicule, thanks to decent slugging percentages thus far.