Yesterday, Bill was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards to see the Orioles play the Yankees. Being a graduate student over 2 hours away from home, it wasn’t an ideal day for me to join him, so I followed the game live on MLB.com instead. Overall, it was a depressing game for Orioles fans as the team’s usually solid relief pitching blew the game in the later innings. However, there was one interesting aspect to the game that happened.
Matt Holliday came to the plate five times and he was “0 for 0” (he walked all five times).
Holliday is a slugging left fielder who came up with the Rockies in the mid 2000s and helping the 2007 team reach the World Series (lost to the Red Sox in four games). He was eventually traded to the Athletics before the start of the 2009 season. But in mid-season, the Athletics decided to trade him again and he was sent to St. Louis. After Pujols left following the 2011 season, Holliday became the power hitter the team relied on. But as the years went by, age started to catch up with Holliday as he saw his power numbers drop bit by bit each season. After he finished the 2016 season, his contract was up and the Cardinals didn’t seem interested in bringing back the 37 year old aging slugger. He decided to sign a one-year deal with the Yankees (worth $13 million) this off season to primarily play as a DH. Holliday’s main attributes offensively were his ability to hit the ball with power (296 career home runs in 14 seasons) along with good contact (2001 lifetime hits, and a .303 batting average). His ability to take walks has been respective. In his four seasons, he has walked over 60 times eight times, which is a good amount. Even so, watching Holliday walk five times in a regular 9-inning game is odd.
As soon as he walked the 5th time for the day, my first question I asked myself was “ok, how many times has this happened in MLB history?” This may seem like a daunting question to tackle. But I have the perfect resource for a question like this. Baseball-Reference has a service called “Play-Index”. For a yearly subscription of $36, Play-Index allows you to ask statistical questions with great detail. For example, suppose you want to find all the players born in the Dominican Republic who have hit 40 or more homeruns in a season while striking out less than 100 times in a season between 1990 and 2016. No problem! According to Play-Index, only Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Vladimir Guerrero, and Edwin Encarnacion have done this. Anyways, I went into Play Index and asked “how many times has a player walked five or more times in a game?” Well sure enough, Play Index gave me a response. It has happened 107 times since 1913 (that is as far back as I can go with this resource) not including Matt Holliday.
Here are some interesting facts I got from Play-Index (note: they haven’t changed their systems to include Holliday yet so these numbers are true ignoring Holliday).
- While it has happened 107 times since 1913, only 52 times has it occured in a regular 9-inning game (no extra innings).
- Some players who I was surprised to see on the list: Colby Rasmus, Dusty Baker, Melky Cabrera, Mike Baxter, Steven Souza
- Only one time have two players collected five walks each on the same day. Even more remarkable is that it was in the same game (and for the same team). On August 24, 2013 the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies played an 18 inning game which started at 7pm and ended around 2am. In the top of the 13th inning, the Diamondbacks had a runner on second with one out. Wanting to setup the force, the Phillies decided to intentionally walk Cliff Pennington, for his fifth walk of the night. Well the walk worked as intended for the next batter flew out to right field to end the inning. On and on the game went for another five innings. Then in the top of the 18th inning, probably sensing that this was his last opportunity for his 5th walk, Tony Campana strode up to the plate with two outs and worked his fifth walk of the night. That walk sent up the rally for the DBacks to score five runs and end the game in the bottom half.
- Of the 107 times a player has five or more walks, only four times did the player get six walks.
|Date||Plate Appearances||Number of Walks||Extra Innings?|
|Bryce Harper||May 8, 2016||7||6||Yes. 13 innings|
|Jeff Bagwell||August 20, 1999||8||6||Yes. 16 innings|
|Andre Thornton||May 2, 1984||8||6||Yes. 16 innings|
|Jimmie Foxx||June 16, 1938||6||6||No. 9 innings|
- What was also interesting about Holliday’s line from yesterday is that he had exactly five plate apparances and walked each time. In other words, his batting line for the day is 0-0 with five walks. And how many times has that happened before? It has happened 36 times. According to this list, 35 of them were exactly 5 plate apperances. Only once has a player went 0-0 with six walks: Jimmie Foxx. And as you can see above, he also did it in a regular 9-inning game.
My final question for today is this: who has done this the most? Which player has walked 5+ times in a game the most times in his career? Was it Barry Bonds? Ted Williams? Hank Aaron?
Answer: Mel Ott -he did it four times(10-5-1929, 09-01-1933, 06-17-1943, 04-30-1944)
- 4 times – Mel Ott
- 3 times – Barry Bonds
- 2 times – Albie Pearson, Alex Gordon, Dale Murphy, Dick Allen, Hank Aaron, Larry Doby, Mark Teixeira, Max Bishop, Rickey Henderson
(Ted Williams only did it once in his career).
Here is another small staistical anomoly from that game. Orioles starting pitcher Wade Miley had a bizzare pitching line. He went 5 innings while giving up 1 hit, zero runs, and striking out 5 batters. But he also gave up 7 walks! How often has that occured? Since 1913, there have been 21 times a starting pitcher has thrown at least 5 innings while giving up 1 hit, 0 runs, and walking 7 batters. The last guy to do it was Jonathan Sanchez in 2010.