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The Leadoff Walk

Sunday, March 31, 2013 10:08 PM

As many of you know, I absolutely hate the leadoff walk – so much so, I’ve started my own hashtag for it on Twitter (#LoW). I absolutely cringe every time the free pass is given to start an inning. But because of my passion towards the leadoff walk, I continually get the same question – WHY?

With some research, I found that I do have a good reason for the dislike. In fact, the leadoff walk scores between 22 and 34 percent of the time, on average, per MLB season. Last year, 2,874 leadoff walks were issued, in which 657 scored (roughly 22.33% of the time). Interesting fact: 146 of those walks were issued to start the game.

I followed the Toronto Blue Jays very closely throughout the 2012 season. I felt I was typing my hashtag, #LoW, on Twitter frequently so I decided to check whether my belief was accurate or not.

It was.

In fact, Ricky Romero led the league in leadoff walks allowed with 30 in 32 games played. Yu Darvish and Justin Masterson followed with 25 each.

In terms of batters, Michael Bourn led the league by working 29 leadoff walks. Austin Jackson had 27, while Carlos Santana worked 26. Blue Jays’ Kelly Johnson led his team in leadoff walks, working 19 in 153 plate appearances.

To be fair, a leadoff single has just as much of a chance of scoring as a leadoff walk (typically varies between 0.5% of a leadoff walk throughout the past five MLB seasons), but as aforementioned, there is something to dislike about giving the ‘free’ pass and giving an opponent essentially a one-in-three chance of scoring.

I’ll be keeping track of the number of leadoff walks that occur throughout the season. Post in the comment section below which pitcher you think will allow the most leadoff walks and which batter you think will work the most leadoff walks.

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