Which players are the most likely to go the longest before their first walk of 2012?
No one personifies this better than Angels’ shortstop Gary DiSarcina. DiSarcina went deep into April of the 1998 season before drawing his first walk, and proudly stated that it was a goal of his to not walk all season. He believed he was a better hitter when hacking away and being "aggressive". DiSarcina’s career OBP of .291 and five full seasons of .294 or lower haven’t deterred him, or moved the Angel coaching staff to dissuade him of the notion. So in honor of our misguided friend, I’ve elected to establish the DiSar Awards.
—Joe Sheehan, 2000
On Friday, with one out in the eighth inning of the Braves' 9-8 victory over the Rockies, Kris Medlen threw a 3-1 fastball up and in to Ramon Hernandez, and the Rockies catcher took it for a ball. It was Hernandez’ first walk of the season, in his 67th plate appearance. That is the longest stretch without a walk by any player to start this season, which means Ramon Hernandez is the DiSars leader in the clubhouse.
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Bringing back the DiSar Awards to celebrate the achievements of those players who believe there's no such thing as a free pass.
Among the many oddities of the pre-sabermetric period—or at least the time before sabermetrics went mainstream—is replacement-level shortstop Gary DiSarcina’s 12-year career, most of which he spent as a starter. That’s not to say that teams no longer make mistakes in a more enlightened era—they do, and plenty of them—but one wonders whether DiSarcina would have enjoyed the long leash he did had his every on-field failure been scrutinized by an army of online (and front-office) observers wielding advanced statistics.
Of course, it wasn’t as if more simplistic stats built DiSarcina into a Joe Carter-like false idol–one didn’t need to see his career .225 TAv and negative FRAA to know that he wasn’t among the game’s leading lights. Still, something kept him employed, year after year and out after out. Few players spend the entirety of a lengthy career with the same team, and those who do tend to be marketable stars, men whose fates gradually become intertwined with those of their franchises through sustained mutual success. DiSarcina was not one of those men, but he was a career Angel in spite of all efforts to play his way out of a job.
Jay Jaffe uses JAWS to look at the newly eligible hitters on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Clay Davenport's Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) figures make an ideal tool for this endeavor because they normalize all performance records in major-league history to the same scoring environment, adjusting for park effects, quality of competition and length of schedule. All pitchers, hitters and fielders are thus rated above or below one consistent replacement level, making cross-era comparisons a breeze. Though non-statistical considerations--awards, championships, postseason performance--shouldn't be left by the wayside in weighing a player's Hall of Fame case, they're not the focus here.
Election to the Hall of Fame requires a player to perform both at a very high level and for a long time, so it's inappropriate to rely simply on career WARP (which for this exercise refers exclusively to the adjusted-for-all-time version, WARP3). In past years I identified each player's peak value by his best five consecutive seasons, with allowances made for seasons lost to war or injury. That choice was an admittedly arbitrary one, and for the 2006 ballot I've revised the methodology to instead use each player's best seven seasons without concern as to whether they're consecutive or not. It's a subtle change that doesn't have a huge impact, but it does require less manual labor to determine the injury and war exceptions, a welcome development from where I sit. Effectively, we're double-counting more of a player's best seasons, but given what we know about pennants added and
the premium value of star talent, individual greatness can have a nonlinear effect on a team's results both in the standings and on the bottom line.
Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' predictions for 1998. We'll go division by
division and each of our staff members will tell you what they think about the
races. Remember, there's a reason we don't print this stuff in the book; there
is no good way we know of to predict what a team will do before the season
begins. Consider these teamwide WFGs, take them with a grain of salt, and