Thursday, September 17, 2015


We started to write the title of this post in the form of a question...then stopped ourselves.

We momentarily forgot exactly how much we loathe that faux formulation.

We don't want to either lead you to water or make you drink--we figure many of you are drunk enough already, and don't need to get any wetter than you already are.

So...on that cheery note, we gear-shift into expository mode, with the thesis spread out like that patient etherized on the table notionalizing the claim that we just might have lived through the great "golden age" of high-walk hitters.

The first table-and-chart data, submitted here for your approval, would seem to indicate that such is the case.

For goodness' sakes, look at the record-setting number in 2000 (17 hitters with 100+ BBs).

And look at the spike in the five-year average for 100+ BB players--a dozen walkmen (alas, sans headphones...) at the peak of the chart in 2003.

Looks like a slam dunk for our recent past (2003 also being that wonderful year in which good 'ol Dubya smirked at us in his flight suit with his "mission accomplished" claptrap--those of us who weren't led to the Kool-Aid know just what was actually "accomplished" while Georgie Boy fiddled with his zipper...) but, hey, there could be a surprise coming...

--and it ain't even October, when many of the most disgusting surprises occur, particularly in a "tinkle-on-your-neighbor land" where every year is now seemingly an "election" year.

Actually, many of you won't be surprised to discover that the above data was somewhat massaged and manipulated. While it's actually true (as in the numbers aren't faked...), it's still an inaccurate representation of the percentage of possible high-walk hitters that existed in any given year over the history of the game.

Why's that? Because the simple count-up of these guys doesn't take into account how many possible hitters there are in seasons with differing numbers of teams. We must remember that there are nearly twice as many teams in baseball now than was the case in 1960.

We have to adjust for that, just as we should adjust for the shocking revelation that the Republican clown is not the best use of your entertainment dollar--hell, tearing off your toenails with a pair of pliers is actually less painful.

When we adjust for the number of possible hitters in baseball, and recalibrate the "counting" numbers into percentages, we get the true picture of when the "golden age" of high-walk players occurred.

Those who've dared to delve into the bowels of this blog, or who've read the mysterious but not musty back issues of BBBA, will know that this "golden age" occurred in the years immediately after World War II, with 1949 being the peak year.

And the "percentage of possible" table and chart demonstrate this for us. We had a nice run of "walkmen" in the late 90s-early 00's, but it doesn't match the levels achieved in the late 40s.

And, by the percentages, the decade we're in now--the terrible teens, as they will probably be called at some not-too-distant point in the future--is actually putting up high-walk player percentages more akin to the big-strike-zone 60s or the deadball era.

That means we have about as much overall variety from hitters in the present-day game that we have from the "individuals" in that clown car.