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May 17, 2000

Doctoring The Numbers

Intentional Walks, Saves, and Raul Mondesi

by Rany Jazayerli

Taking Their Chances with Lee Stevens

Through May 14th, free-swinging superstar Vladimir Guerrero has drawn 16 walks--but 10 of them (62.5%) were intentional. The highest ratio of intentional walks to overall walks since statkeepers started differentiating between them in 1955 (minimum 400 AB):

Name               Year    IBB   BB   Ratio

Manny Sanguillen   1971     13   19   .684
Joe Girardi        1990     11   17   .647
Doug Flynn         1980     14   22   .636
Garry Templeton    1986     21   35   .600
Garry Templeton    1984     23   39   .590

Which only proves that managers are way too fearful of eighth-place hitters; of the five, only Sanguillen managed a .650 OPS or a .350 slugging average in that season. Restricting our study to middle-of-the lineup hitters (minimum .450 SLG):

Name               Year     SLG  IBB   BB   Ratio

Roberto Clemente   1968    .482   27   51   .529
Andres Galarraga   1993    .602   12   24   .500
Andre Dawson       1990    .535   21   42   .500
Dave Parker        1985    .551   24   52   .462
Bill Robinson      1979    .504   11   24   .458

That Leaves Only 24 Holes to Fill

The Detroit Tigers have only 12 wins this season, last in baseball--but closer Todd Jones has 10 saves, tied for third in the majors. The pitchers who have saved the highest percentage of their team's wins:

Team          Year     W   L   Closer            Sv   % of Team Wins

Florida       1993    64  98   Bryan Harvey      45       70.3%
Chicago (NL)  1993    84  78   Randy Myers       53       63.1%
Chicago (AL)  1990    94  68   Bobby Thigpen     57       60.6%
Montreal      1999    68  94   Ugueth Urbina     41       60.3%
St. Louis     1995    62  81   Tom Henke         36       58.1%

Incidentally, the record for most saves on a 100-loss team is 26, by Bill Caudill for the 1983 Mariners (60-102).

No, Tony Womack is Not on This List

Raul Mondesi is second in the AL with 35 runs scored, despite a thorougly unimpressive .339 OBP. Mondesi has scored 35 times despite reaching base by hit or walk on only 56 occasions, a ratio of 0.625. The highest ratios of runs scored to times on base (hit or walk) in history:

Player           Year       R      H     BB   Ratio

Pepper Martin    1935      121    161    33   0.624
Al Simmons       1930      152    211    39   0.608
Robin Yount      1980      121    179    26   0.590
Nap Lajoie       1900       95    152    10   0.586
Tommy Leach      1909      126    153    66   0.575
Joe DiMaggio     1936      132    206    24   0.574

What do they have in common? Extra-base power (four of the six players had 40 doubles or more, and four had 10 triples or more), batting at the top of a very good lineup, and efficient base-stealing. The six averaged 17 steals, with a combined 83% success rate for the four players that have caught stealing data.

In 1999, Womack scored 111 runs on a combined 222 hits and walks; his ratio of exactly 0.5 ranks 183rd all-time. Why steal second when you can just double instead?

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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