Walking Home

Many of you probably know that Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has started
writing his own blog. It offers some fascinating insight on pitching, for
example, this is from yesterday’s recap of his opening day start in Kansas City:

I then throw Pena 5 FBs, and walk him on a 3-1 count. None of the
pitches are anywhere near where I am trying to throw them and I’m
wrestling with that while trying to dismiss it, and get the next guy.

This is good stuff.

Another quote by Schilling caught my eye:

A lengthy AB
from Shealy, saw me go to the split 3-2 which he took for ball 4 to
walk in a run. I can’t remember if I’ve ever done that?

Whenever I see something like this, I immediately think “Retrosheet! I
can answer that.” So, I went to the Retrosheet data and found out
that Schilling had actually walked in a run five times before. So,
yes, Curt, you have done it before.

Then I got to wondering, Is five runs walked in a lot? Who walked in
the most? Who never did it? Well, Retrosheet can help us with those
questions, too.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the pitcher who walked in more runs than any other in the last 50 years was Nolan Ryan, who did it 47 times. Of course, Ryan pitched for about 3 decades, so he had many bases-loaded opportunities in his career, about 509, according to Retrosheet. The only other pitcher with more than 30 bases-loaded walks was knuckleballer Charlie Hough, who had 39.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have journeyman reliever Steve Crawford, who pitched for the Red Sox and Royals in the 1980’s. Crawford faced 95 batters with the bases loaded and did not walk a single one. Crawford had decent control overall (7.6% walk rate), but clearly bore down with the sacks full. Honorable mention goes to 1950’s Reds hurler Jim O’Toole, who walked only one batter out of 125 with the bases-loaded.

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