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While tweeting about pitcher home runs earlier, I ran across this amazing stat: Carlos Zambrano has 23 career home runs… but only 10 walks. Who else is in this HR > BB club?
I set the limit at at least 10 homers to weed out the fluky short-career folks with 2 homers and 1 walk or similar. Only 9 players made the list:
|3||Mark Trumbo||27||26||2010||2011||147||549||6||116||1st Base|
Unsurprisingly, we get 5 pitchers on the list–5 of the most prolific HR-hitting pitchers of the expansion era. Among the pitchers, Zambrano is the undisputed champion. He has 12 more homers than any of the other qualified pitchers, and more than twice as many homers as walks (J.R. Richard also has more than double, but he only had 10 homers).
Among players with at least 1000 plate appearances, Fernando Valenzuela and Livan Hernandez have the fewest and 2nd-fewest number of walks (Hernandez is tied with ’40s and ’50s pitcher Virgil Trucks at 9). Only 4 players in history have at least 1000 PA and a walk rate of less than 1%: Valenzuela, Hernandez, Trucks, and Phil Niekro, who sneaks in with 17 walks in 1707 career PA. Lower the PA requirement to 500, and you get 6 more players, all pitchers: Brad Penny, Aaron Harang, Eric Show, Pedro Astacio, Gene Conley, and Bert Blyleven. That’s a pretty good group of pitchers.
In many ways, the position players on the list are more impressive, since you’d expect position players would have to maintain a minimum walk rate to stay on an MLB roster. In the case of Todd Greene and Bill Schroeder, presumably their deficiencies of patience were overlooked because they were backup catchers with decent pop.
Mark Trumbo is a different animal altogether, however. He’s a rookie, so he probably won’t finish his career on this list, but he’s the only regular player to qualify. There’s no doubting his power, but oof, that is a terrible walk rate (4.7%) from an offense-first position like 1st base. If he put up those numbers at catcher or shortstop, nobody would complain, but at 1st base, you really need to walk at least 7-8% of the time to be league-average, no matter how many homers you hit. And 27 is not an overwhelming amount of homers for that position. These numbers are made even worse by the fact that 15% of Trumbo’s walks are intentional; his unintentional walk rate is only 3.7%.
Trumbo in many ways reminds me of Jeff Francoeur: hotshot rookie with no patience whatsoever who will likely be exposed as pitchers adjust to his aggressiveness. Unless he learns to be patient in future seasons, Trumbo will likely not be a starting first baseman for long.
Tagged with: Bill Schroeder Carlos Zambrano Fernando Valenzuela good bad careers home runs J.R. Richard Jeff Francoeur Livan Hernandez Luis Medina Mark Trumbo Phil Niekro strikeouts Todd Greene Tony Cloninger Virgil Trucks
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
JunkStats is written by Jacob Peterson, who also writes for the Braves blog Talking ChopBeyond the Boxscore
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