The Power of the Walk

I was having a discussion with another Rays fan who mentioned to me that he'd be interested in what the Rays record was when they walked more then x amount of times versus when they didn't.  To be honest, the conversation was had after the Rays were shut down by Cliff Lee to end our season.  My initial reaction was that obviously the Rays would struggle without a lot of base on balls, as they have a very poor team batting average.  Was this a valid idea?

Anytime I have an initial reaction, I think back to a section of text I came across when reading a case study by James Click about fielding statistics (I've linked and exceprt of  the story and highly recommend it), where he referenced a case study by Thomas Gilovich who said that human memory is one of the worst data collection devises in the world.  He (Gilovish) noted that we tend to find nonexistent patterns in random data, extrapolate from too little information, weight events that confirm our preconceptions vastly more than those that disagree with them,  and eagerly accept second hand information as fact.   Was I guilty of doing the exact same thing as Gilovich mentioned in his case study?

To answer the question of the Rays W-L record when walking x amount of times would require some data mining and thanks to the Baseball-Reference Play Index I was able to quickly grab the teams record when walking x amount of time.  Knowing how the Rays perfromed as a team needed to be put into some perspective, so I ran the same metric on the American League and compared the Rays success relative to the leage average.  Also, I've included the frequency that the Rays drew x amount of walks and included that data as well.  After all, having a poor W-L record when drawing zero walks doesn't mean much.  Drawing zero walks well above league average would likely be more valuable information.

The first table gives the Rays record in games where they drew 0-7 or more walks.  As noted I've included the American League win % and frequency for each event and compared the Rays walk total to each.  A solid trend would be a negative value for frequency for games of 0-3 walks and a positve frequency of games of 4 or more walks.  That trend seems to be applicable to the Rays, although the Rays win % in the games of 4 or more walks is not much above the AL average.

 RAYS RECORD IN GAMES BY WALK TOTAL BB W L Win % Freq AL Win % AL Freq ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 0 3 3 0.500 3.70% 0.301 6.00% 0.199 -2.29% 1 9 5 0.643 8.64% 0.403 14.99% 0.240 -6.35% 2 14 11 0.560 15.43% 0.445 19.93% 0.115 -4.50% 3 15 10 0.600 15.43% 0.493 19.22% 0.107 -3.79% 4 12 13 0.480 15.43% 0.548 15.21% -0.068 0.22% 5 16 9 0.640 15.43% 0.633 11.07% 0.007 4.37% 6 10 6 0.625 9.88% 0.627 5.91% -0.002 3.97% ≥7 17 9 0.654 16.05% 0.667 7.67% -0.013 8.38%

The next group of data sums the walk data into two separate events, 3 walks or less or 4 walks or more (playoff teams highlighted in red).  The Rays offense drew 3 walks or less with a lot less frequency than most teams in the American League, 16.93% less often than the league average and had a higher than leage avererage winning percentage in those games.

 DRAWING 3 WALKS OR LESS IN A GAME AL Rank Team W L Win % Freq% AL Win % AL Freq% ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 1 Rays 41 29 0.586 43.21% 0.435 60.14% 0.151 -16.93% 2 White Sox 62 51 0.549 69.75% 0.435 60.14% 0.114 9.61% 3 Yankees 39 33 0.542 44.44% 0.435 60.14% 0.107 -15.70% 4 Red Sox 44 45 0.494 54.94% 0.435 60.14% 0.059 -5.20% 5 Blue Jays 49 56 0.467 64.81% 0.435 60.14% 0.032 4.67% 6 Rangers 44 54 0.449 60.49% 0.435 60.14% 0.014 0.35% 7 Angels 49 67 0.422 71.60% 0.435 60.14% -0.013 11.46% 8 Twins 37 52 0.416 54.94% 0.435 60.14% -0.019 -5.20% 9 Athletics 39 57 0.406 59.26% 0.435 60.14% -0.029 -0.88% 10 Orioles 45 75 0.375 74.07% 0.435 60.14% -0.060 13.93% 11 Mariners 40 67 0.374 66.05% 0.435 60.14% -0.061 5.91% 12 Royals 39 67 0.368 65.43% 0.435 60.14% -0.067 5.29% 13 Tigers 34 59 0.366 57.41% 0.435 60.14% -0.069 -2.73% 14 Indians 32 58 0.356 55.56% 0.435 60.14% -0.079 -4.58%

When drawing 4 walks or more in a game, the Rays were naturally well above league average but their wininng percentage when drawing more than 4 walks a game was below league average.

 DRAWING 4 WALKS OR MORE IN A GAME AL Rank Team W L Win % Freq% AL Win % AL Freq% ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 1 Twins 57 16 0.781 45.06% 0.606 39.86% 0.175 5.20% 2 Tigers 47 22 0.681 42.59% 0.606 39.86% 0.075 2.73% 3 Angels 31 15 0.674 28.40% 0.606 39.86% 0.068 -11.46% 4 Athletics 42 24 0.636 40.74% 0.606 39.86% 0.030 0.88% 5 Rangers 42 24 0.636 39.51% 0.606 39.86% 0.030 -0.35% 6 Blue Jays 36 21 0.632 35.19% 0.606 39.86% 0.025 -4.67% 7 Yankees 56 34 0.622 55.56% 0.606 39.86% 0.016 15.70% 8 Red Sox 45 28 0.616 45.06% 0.606 39.86% 0.010 5.20% 9 Rays 55 37 0.598 56.79% 0.606 39.86% -0.008 16.93% 10 White Sox 26 23 0.531 30.25% 0.606 39.86% -0.076 -9.61% 11 Indians 37 35 0.514 44.44% 0.606 39.86% -0.092 4.58% 12 Royals 28 28 0.500 34.57% 0.606 39.86% -0.106 -5.29% 13 Orioles 21 21 0.500 25.93% 0.606 39.86% -0.106 -13.93% 14 Mariners 21 34 0.382 33.95% 0.606 39.86% -0.224 -5.91%

What this data suggest to me (and others may have a totally different interpretation) is that the Rays had a better win % when they drew 4 or more walks (.598) than when the walked three or fewer times (.586), but not by a significant enough margin to suggest that the key to winning was drawing walks. Of course, there are many moving parts to how a team collects its victories, and this is only one part.    What I've provided below is the same set of data relative to Rays pitchers issuing walks.  I've left off the commentary that could be used as a separate fanpost and I've included the data collected on a googledocs link here: https://spreadsheets2.google.com/ccc?key=tYULseCiG0DZmJFKqK8ijmA&authkey=CJKQ-8cN&hl=en&authkey=CJKQ-8cN#gid=0  Please keep in mind that the data collected is in crude form and if errors are found please point them out to me as I collect this data solo and you are my peer review.

 RAYS RECORD IN GAMES BY WALKS ISSUED BB W L Win % Freq% AL Win % AL Freq ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 0 7 2 0.778 5.56% 0.723 6.22% 0.054 -0.66% 1 20 8 0.714 17.28% 0.622 15.39% 0.093 1.90% 2 20 15 0.571 21.60% 0.560 19.44% 0.011 2.16% 3 23 13 0.639 22.22% 0.507 20.11% 0.132 2.12% 4 15 10 0.600 15.43% 0.462 14.90% 0.138 0.53% 5 5 9 0.357 8.64% 0.344 10.89% 0.013 -2.25% 6 4 4 0.500 4.94% 0.389 5.78% 0.111 -0.84% ≥7 2 5 0.286 4.32% 0.321 7.28% -0.035 -2.95% 96 66

 ISSUING 3 WALKS OR LESS IN A GAME AL Rank Team W L Win % Freq% AL Win % AL Freq% ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 1 White Sox 73 31 0.702 64.20% 0.575 61.16% 0.127 3.04% 2 Yankees 65 29 0.691 58.02% 0.575 61.16% 0.117 -3.14% 3 Blue Jays 64 34 0.653 60.49% 0.575 61.16% 0.078 -0.67% 4 Rays 70 38 0.648 66.67% 0.575 61.16% 0.074 5.51% 5 Red Sox 52 31 0.627 51.23% 0.575 61.16% 0.052 -9.93% 6 Tigers 57 40 0.588 59.88% 0.575 61.16% 0.013 -1.28% 7 Twins 74 52 0.587 77.78% 0.575 61.16% 0.013 16.62% 8 Athletics 56 41 0.577 59.88% 0.575 61.16% 0.003 -1.28% 9 Angels 49 36 0.576 52.74% 0.575 61.16% 0.002 -8.42% 10 Rangers 55 41 0.573 59.26% 0.575 61.16% -0.002 -1.90% 11 Indians 44 48 0.478 56.79% 0.575 61.16% -0.096 -4.37% 12 Orioles 44 53 0.454 59.88% 0.575 61.16% -0.121 -1.28% 13 Royals 43 53 0.448 59.26% 0.575 61.16% -0.127 -1.90% 14 Mariners 51 63 0.447 70.37% 0.575 61.16% -0.127 9.21%

 ISSUING 4 WALKS OR MORE IN A GAME AL Rank Team W L Win % Freq% AL Win % AL Freq% ±AL Win% ±AL Freq 1 Twins 20 16 0.556 22.22% 0.392 38.84% 0.164 -16.62% 2 Rangers 35 31 0.530 40.74% 0.392 38.84% 0.139 1.90% 3 Rays 26 28 0.481 33.33% 0.392 38.84% 0.090 -5.51% 4 Red Sox 37 42 0.468 48.77% 0.392 38.84% 0.077 9.93% 5 Yankees 30 38 0.441 41.98% 0.392 38.84% 0.050 3.14% 6 Angels 31 46 0.403 47.26% 0.392 38.84% 0.011 8.42% 7 Athletics 25 40 0.385 40.12% 0.392 38.84% -0.007 1.28% 8 Tigers 24 41 0.369 40.12% 0.392 38.84% -0.022 1.28% 9 Royals 24 42 0.364 40.74% 0.392 38.84% -0.028 1.90% 10 Indians 25 45 0.357 43.21% 0.392 38.84% -0.034 4.37% 11 Orioles 22 43 0.338 40.12% 0.392 38.84% -0.053 1.28% 12 Blue Jays 21 43 0.328 39.51% 0.392 38.84% -0.063 0.67% 13 White Sox 15 43 0.259 35.80% 0.392 38.84% -0.133 -3.04% 14 Mariners 10 38 0.208 29.63% 0.392 38.84% -0.183 -9.21%

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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