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May 3, 2000

Doctoring The Numbers

Home Runs, Stolen Bases, and Felipe Alou

by Rany Jazayerli

And You Thought the Big Story was Home Runs

The National League single-season record for walks drawn was set by the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, who worked their opponents for 732 free passes. This season, no less than three NL teams are on pace to shatter that record through the end of April: the Astros (845-walk pace), Mets (841) and Cardinals (797). The five teams with the most walks in NL history:

Team                    Year     BB
Brooklyn Dodgers        1947    732
San Francisco Giants    1970    729
Houston Astros          1999    728
New York Mets           1999    717
San Francisco Giants    1969    711

Meanwhile, in Montreal...

After a disappointing season by the Expos' pitching staff last season, Felipe Alou's reputation as an expert handler of young pitchers was on the line. Forgive us for our lack of faith; not only have Carl Pavano and Javier Vazquez met expectations this season, but no Expo pitcher walked more than three batters in any game until April 30. Through April, the Expos had given up just 57 walks, 19 fewer than any other team in the majors. The teams who lapped the competition in walks allowed by the greatest margin in history:

Year  Team                BB  Runner-Up        BB    Diff.
1952  Philadelphia (NL)  373  St. Louis (NL)  501     128
1913  New York (NL)      315  Boston (NL)     419     104
1926  Cincinnati         324  St. Louis (NL)  397      73
1979  Milwaukee          381  Montreal        450      69
1953  Philadelphia (NL)  410  Washington      478      68

All five teams played at least .539 ball; the 1913 Giants went 101-51 and won the pennant.

In case you're wondering, the 1952-53 Phillies were so dominant in control almost entirely due to the efforts of Robin Roberts, who walked 106 men in 677 innings over the two seasons.

If Speed Really Mattered, They Wouldn't Be In Third Place

The Kansas City Royals have their problems, and Tony Muser has been widely criticized for pushing some wrong buttons. But the one button he has been dead-on with has been the Green Light. So far this season, the Royals are 27-for-29 in stolen base attempts. They have the most steals and the fewest times caught stealing in baseball.

The teams with the best stolen base percentage in major-league history:

Team                Year    SB   CS     SB%
Baltimore           1994    69   13   84.1%
Toronto             1995    75   16   82.4%
Cincinnati          1975   168   36   82.4%
Los Angeles (NL)    1962   198   43   82.2%
Kansas City         1980   185   43   81.1%

That's right. The Big Red Machine, known for its devastating one-through-eight lineup, also had the best stolen-base percentage by a non-strike-season team in history.

Rany Jazayerli, M.D., can be reached at ranyj@baseballprospectus.com.

Rany Jazayerli is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Rany's other articles. You can contact Rany by clicking here

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