Author Topic: Around Baseball  (Read 405784 times)


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Re: Around Baseball
« Reply #20835 on: June 02, 2023, 12:22:42 am »
Fun historic note from Bill James (talking about Eddie Yost):

In the first 30 years of baseball history, walks for hitters were not even tabulated.   Nobody knew how much a player walked; literally, nobody.  It wasn’t figured.  The numbers that you see now for players like Yank Robinson, Roy Thomas and Topsy Hartsel are numbers that were calculated years later from game scoresheets, which DID record batter’s walks; they just did not add them up.

When John Heydler (National League President) added Batter’s Walks to the stats published by the league, about 1912, he did so with an explanation that these were just given for what they were worth, since the pitcher’s control or lack of control was what determined when a walk occurred, and the batter just walked more if he happened to be at the plate.  The belief that walks are controlled by the pitcher, not the batter, was the dominant belief in baseball when I became a professional writer in 1975, and it still exists now, although it is now a recessive model of thought.   At the time that Yost played the basic reference guides did not publish batter’s walks or published them separately from the rest of the official stats, in a section with things like grounding into a double play and sacrifice flies.  They were a secondary, non-essential category. 

The Baseball Register, however, would make a special effort to publish Yost’s walks; they would publish HIS, but not anyone else’s, because that was what he was known for.   Some of this was not oversight, but a value judgment.  Drawing a walk is not an athletic achievement, not an active achievement.  It is a passive achievement, accomplished by patience, judgement and strategy, rather than by strength, speed or agility.  Some people actively discriminate against the skill because it is not athletic.   Scouts generally paid no attention to walks until about 2010.
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