It’s no secret that Joey Votto can walk. He’s at 35 for the season, which is number one in MLB. Although I talked a little bit about his projectably record setting doubles rate yesterday, even if Joey walks at the same rate for the whole season, he won’t set any records, especially because of the ridiculous Barry Bonds base on balls numbers from the early aughts. Still, at this rate, Joey would walk about 157 times, which would put him ahead of everyone except 3 Bonds, 2 Ted Williams, 1 Babe Ruth, and 1 Mark McGwire.
The thing is, though, no one else is. Of course, that’s not exactly surprising to your average Reds fan. It’s not as if you asked someone (anyone) if anyone else on the Reds is walking except Joey Votto, that person would say “Oh, yes, hmm, I think Jay Bruce has also been walking a lot.” Or anything at all, because they would just start walking more quickly. Away from you. But anyway, you can add up the walk totals of the next four guys, and still only have 1 more walk than Votto. Some of this is because say, Ryan Hanigan, doesn’t exactly have a full time gig.
But how much less are the rest of the Reds walking? I mean, it’s easy to say that the Reds overall walk rate is 7.9 %, and without Joey Votto, it’s 6.0%, but if you take out the most walkable player of any team, the overall team walk rate is going to drop. That’s how averages work, kids. But let’s compare the difference across the league.
As you can see (four words used in every powerpoint presentation ever), the Redlegs have a formidable lead at being not nearly as good as their best player at talking walks. Another way to put it is that the Reds are 20th in the MLB at BB%, but drop to 28th (that’s like, 3rd worst, you counting-challenged among us) if you remove Joey Votto (and every other top walker on their team).
What does this mean? Possibly nothing. It isn’t as if walks alone (or walks minus Joey Votto alone) are particularly strong predictors of runs or wins or any of that other non-important stuff. But it’s a concern that with Joey Votto, the Reds OBP is 27th in MLB. The correlation between BB% minus #1 and runs is slightly stronger than the correlation between BB% and runs, but not by very much. You can imagine though, that pitchers might take comfort in walking Joey Votto (6 IBB so far this year) knowing that the rest of the team will swing at just about anything.