Free. It is word everyone loves. Free food, free parking, even free love. And what is wrong with free? Nothing. If it isn?t on your dime, it is on somebody else?s. Why try to do something when you can get it for free? Save your energy for something else. Would you still write a report a coworker already made for you? Heck no. You?d go out and drink some beers. We love free. Free is good. Free is fun. Free is American.
There are two different types of free, however. There is a free that saves you the expense, but comes at the cost of someone on ?your? side. If your parents bought you a car, it is free for you, but not for them, and now you have no tuition. That is the free that seems to be, but really isn?t. The free we love has to come at the expense of another. The two sodas that come down at once, the 38 minutes left on the parking meter or the free water under your cart you ?forget? to pay for. Free for you means it comes at someone else?s expense. And for free to be fun, that HAS to be the case.
So, what does this have to do with baseball? Well, everything. There is nothing more important than out ?freeing? your opponent. By ?freeing? I am talking primarily about walks. Now, there you are, staring at your PC and wondering, ?What the heck? Out walking your opponent is good and all, but I bet I?d win more if I out homered them.? And you may very well be correct, but the difference is very important. You don?t need to do ANYTHING to draw a walk. In fact, it is the act of doing nothing that is often the most successful method of walking. You gotta hit homers. You actually have to do something. That is anti-American and I am ashamed of you. Walks are free, and they come at the expense of your opponent. Not only do they put you on base, they give an extra AB to a teammate, they keep you from getting out and they make your opponent throw more pitches (of which you can and your teammates can see and judge). Walks are good. The question remains, how good are they for the Philles?
Through the Phils? first 90 games this year, the team that has walked the most has won 54 games for a 60 percent winning percentage. This might not appear to have that much impact?but the total also includes 10 games in which both teams walked the same amount of times. Taking these out, we see that the team with fewer walks has won only 32.5 percent of the games. That?s less than one out of three games. Winning percentage by walks, all Phils games
|Team with more BBs||Team with less BBs||Same BBs|
|.600 record||.325 record||Phils usually lose|
This is good news for us Phils phans because the Phils walk, and they walk a lot. 351 walks for and 280 walks against. But the Phils are just 2 games over .500. How can this be? When we don?t walk more than our opponent, we lose. The Phils have not lost a single game where they have had 3 or more walks more than their opponents. The Phils love the free. Keep the Phils within 2 walks of your total, and you win. On the contrary, the Phils have won 7 games that their opponents have walked at least 3 more times than them. In fact, the Phils have only lost 4 games in which their opponent has walked 3 or more times than them.
While the ?walk more than your opponent" mantra seems to not work for the Phils opponents, 11 games is a pretty poor sample size and is most likely an anomaly. The Phillies seem to be unusually lucky when their opponents walk a lot more than them (Padilla especially). It will be interesting to watch if this evens out over the rest of the year.
The key to the Phils success is to collect more freebies than their opponents. They are a very good team when they collect the free pass, watch a lot of pitches and force the starter out of the game. If this holds true for the second half of the season (and if the first Marlins game is any indication, it will), then we can expect a very good second half, as the Phils walk 56% more than the teams they play against. The only thing left is to teach Jimmy Rollins this.