May 28, 2011
Steve’s column earlier on, ahem, players with loose strike zones got me wondering – how do we make people appreciate a walk in an RBI situation? Should we sit there and parse the RE tables and show that, yes, taking a walk actually helps the team? Go through a fundamental analysis of how plate discipline and taking pitches helps you get good pitches to hit?
No, my sabermetric brethren! We will, at last, finally turn the weapon of our enemies against them! I give you…
THE SACRIFICE WALK.
The sacrifice walk is a walk where a player has runners in scoring position, is not intentionally walked and is not awarded an RBI. Like the sacrifice hit, the player gives up a chance at bat (and an opportunity to pad his personal stats with an RBI) to improve his team’s chances at scoring runs.
By calling it a sacrifice walk, it no longer sounds like lawyer ball, it sounds like something noble, heroic – the sort of thing Derek Jeter would do, back when that was still a compliment. It’s genius! There’s no way this could go badly.
(NOTE: This could totally go badly. There’s a very real danger that the sarcasm here is totally missed by someone, somewhere and I go down in sabermetric histories as “Colin Wyers, the man who created the sacrifice walk” and future generations will feel the same deep loathing I do for the person who decided three runs was a “save situation,” and the recursive loathing will cause me to spontaneously combust. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.)
I give you, your 2011 sacrifice walk leaderboards:
Shocking, utterly shocking – Jose Bautista leads the list here. Totally not the most predictable thing ever. Not at all.