May 3, 2000
Doctoring The Numbers
Home Runs, Stolen Bases, and Felipe Alou
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.