My most favorite of results in a plate appearance is a walk. Now, that may sound boring to you, but not nearly as boring as it is to me to enjoy it so much. But I do, and primarily for one reason, because it comes free. I have talked about it before on here, but there ain't nothing better in life than something that is free. All you have to do is stand there, watch the pitcher throw 4 pitches outside this tiny little 4th dimension zone and then take your base when he does so.
It doesn't get much easier than that...or does it?
I love those teaser lines. Anyway, yeah, a walk is free and easy. Well, maybe not easy, since it requires you to do the one thing in baseball that goes 100% against your instincts, and that is to NOT swing the bat. Everyone wants to be the hero, so, having the willpower to not swing the bat and take your walk is pretty impressive. But, while walks are free, maybe they aren't so easy.
What is easier than taking 4 balls, not swinging and walking down to first base? Two things: Not taking 4 balls and walking down to first base and taking 4 balls and not having the desire to swing. These are the ultimate freebees and the Phils are good at them. In fact, they are best in the league at them. In fact, they are significantly better than the rest of the league in them.
Of course, I am talking about Hit By Pitches and Intentional Walks. The first involves not moving when the balls is being thrown at you and the second is not moving when the ball is being thrown away from you. The Phillies lead the league in HBP with 67 of them and are 2nd in the league in IBBs with 53 of them (screw people being afraid of Bonds).
Added up, that is 120 freebees of the ultimate free. Almost no skill at all other than being in the way or looking scary. What is strange is that they are at the top of both categories which puts them way ahead of the field.
Kansas City 87
NY Mets 84
San Francisco 81
NY Yankees 77
St. Louis 73
Chicago Sox 71
LA Angels 70
Chicago Cubs 61
Tampa Bay 61
San Diego 60
LA Dodgers 57
Cleveland has 101 such freebees and that is almost 20% less than the Phillies. They have twice as many or more than 5 other teams. Surely the IBBs are mostly because of Howard, but other teams have scary hitters as well, don't they? It's not like the Phils are fielding a team of stiffs behind him, they do have quite the offense other than Howard.
Interestingly enough, the Phils lead the league last year in HBP and IBBS as well. 162 of them (one per game) and Pittsburgh was next with 138. That is a pretty big margin to lead by again. The Phillies were second in the league the year before with only Washington getting more freebees.
What does all of this mean? I have no clue, other than it allows me to write an entire entry on a semi-useless fact. It obviously helps with scoring runs as getting on base and not making outs is good and even more so when the other team just gives you that base for free. I am not sure why the Phils are so much better than other teams with doing so, especially since Howard is good, but not THAT much better than other players and the rest of the team is good around him offensively.
But I like my freebees, and I'll take them, well, except when they break my second baseman's arm.