May 26, 2006
Among the questions I'm asked most frequently these days…
I don't think I can hit the first two with anything satisfactory, although getting the subject of #2 to address #1 could be entertaining. However, I can--with heavy lifting by Keith Woolner--handle #3.
The DiSar Awards are given to the player in each league who goes the deepest into each season without drawing a walk. They're named in tribute to former Angels shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who once famously remarked that he'd love to go an entire season without walking, and drew just 154 free passes in his 12-year career. Last year, Jeff Francoeur emerged from the minors at midseason to run down Jose Reyes, going 127 at-bats without a walk from the start of his career (Reyes had drawn a free pass after 118). In the AL, the Royals' Andres Blanco took advantage of some late-season playing time to set the junior circuit mark with 79 walkless PAs, a streak that was active when the season ended. Blanco caught the clubhouse leader, Adam Kennedy with 75, from behind.
Here are the honorees in the six-year history of the Golden Crutch:
Year American League National League 2005 Andres Blanco Jeff Francoeur 2004 Cesar Crespo Jose Macias 2003 Jose Molina Rainer Olmedo 2002 Carl Crawford Shawon Dunston 2001 Alfonso Soriano Marquis Grissom 2000 Jacque Jones Shawon DunstonOne of the key trends over the years has been that the DiSar winner often comes from behind to take the crown. In addition to Francoeur, players such as Shawon Dunston, Rainer Olmedo and Jose Macias weren't on the radar early in the year, but they kept grinding out walkless ABs to sit atop the leaderboard by the end of the season. So when you peruse the DiSar standings for 2006 below, keep in mind that the eventual winner may be someone riding a bench or even swinging his little heart out at Triple-A.
AB Jeff Francoeur 132 Rondell White 107 Kevin Mench 92 Matt Holliday 78 Jay Payton 73 Aaron Hill 72 Robb Quinlan 71 (active) Matt Diaz 64 (active) Brandon Phillips 62 Yadier Molina 61Francoeur may be a fixture on this list for years to come. I actually thought he had a chance at the all-time record of 259 at-bats, set by the A's Rob Picciolo in 1980. Francoeur's mark does place him in the top ten all-time.
I'm not sure if this is meaningful, but every player on that list bats right-handed. Weird.
A couple of other players have active streaks worth noting. Mike Redmond is at 46, and Anderson Hernandez was sent to Triple-A with a 41-AB streak. No other players have active streaks of at least 40, although threats like Sandy Alomar Jr. and Ramon Santiago lurk below that number with no walks drawn yet this year.
Woolner passed along some other interesting notes on the walkless wonders of the diamond. For instance, Placido Polanco has an active streak of 158 at-bats without a walk; he drew his only free pass of the season back on Opening Day against the Royals, in his third PA. Damn you, Scott Elarton! Angel Berroa has gone 135 AB since his only free pass (against 31 strikeouts!) of the season. Berroa had a 139-AB streak last summer as well, second only to Shea Hillenbrand's 141. While the DiSars honor the players who come out of the gate swinging, Berroa's feat deserves mention as well.
Enjoy the long weekend, folks.