My guess is that baseball fans, whether they are watching a game on TV or in person, like to see action on the field. They enjoy the batter connecting with a pitch and the either a base hit is the end result or a defensive play is made.
Of course, a well-timed walk or strikeout, depending on if your team is at bat or in the field, is always nice. Generally speaking, however, action on the field is what we crave.
Let’s put some numbers to the above musings. Here’s the question: Which batters most often don’t put the bat on the ball in their at-bat? Specifically, which batters have the most strikeouts and walks in their at-bats?
Based on season totals, there have been 15 players in MLB history who have had 120 or more strikeouts and 120 or more walks in a season. No player “accomplished” this feat last season, but in 2015 there were two players who tallied 120 strikeouts and 120 walks. Washington’s Bryce Harper in the ’15 campaign had 131 strikeouts and 124 walks; Cincinnati’s Joey Votto was the other player with 135 strikeouts and 143 walks.
Of these 15 players, six have reached the 120-120 mark in strikeouts and walks multiple times in their careers, led by Jim Thome who did it four times. Here’s a look at the players who have had 120 strikeouts and 120 walks seasons.
4 times: Jim Thome
2 times: Jeff Bagwell, Jack Clark, Adam Dunn, Mark McGwire, Joey Votto
1 time: Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Bryce Harper, Frank Howard, Mickey Mantle, Tony Phillips, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Tettleton, Jim Wynn
Last season (2016) there was six players who had 100 strikeouts and 100 walks: Brandon Belt, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Harper, Mike Trout and Votto. This season, with about one-quarter of the 2017 season complete, there are five players who are on a pace to reach 120-120: Harper (33 strikeouts, 30 walks), Brad Miller, Tampa Bay (45-30), Matt Carpenter, St. Louis (37-32), Miquel Sano, Minnesota (58-30) and Goldschmidt, Arizona (37-35).
For Brewers fans, here’s a quick stat for you: Only one player in the team’s history has had 100 or more strikeouts and 100 or more walks in a season. Prince Fielder did it three straight years, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He had 138 strikeouts, 110 walks in 2009, 138-114 in 2010 and 106-107 in 2011.
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There’s still a lot of games yet to be played in the season, but we are seeing a couple of interesting developments in the batting races. Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko is sitting atop the American League with a .346 average. Should he eventually win the title, Konerko, age 36, would become the oldest A.L. batting champ since 1990 when 37-year-old George Brett won the crown.
Since 1987, there have been 21 players age 30+ who won a batting title. The last was in 2008 when 36-year-old Chipper Jones won the National League batting title. The last 30-something player to win an American League batting championship was in 2007 when 33-year-old Magglio Ordonez had the highest average.
Following are the oldest players to win a batting crown in the last 25 years.
Age, Player, Batting Average
39 Barry Bonds, 362
37 Barry Bonds, .370
37 Tony Gwynn, .372
37 George Brett, .329
36 Chipper Jones, .364
36 Tony Gwynn, .353
35 Tony Gwynn, .368
Of the 50 batting champions since 1987 (25 in the A.L., 25 in the N.L.), 22 were in the age range of 25-29 when they won the title. Fifteen were age 30-34, seven were age 35-39, and six were age 20-24. The most common age of a batting champ since 1987 was 29 with eight players. The Top Five ages:
Age 29: Eight batting champs
Age 32: Five batting champs
Age 28: Five batting champs
Age 26: Four batting champs
Age 30: Four batting champs
Also interesting is that with Konerko and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto leading their respective league in batting average, could we be looking at the first pair of first basemen to win batting titles since 1993? In ’93, Colorado’s Andres Galarraga won the N.L. batting crown with a .370 average, and Toronto first sacker John Olerud captured the A.L. batting title with a .363 average.
Outfielders have won the most batting titles since 1987 with 23. Here’s a look at the positions that have won the most batting titles in the last 25 seasons.
Position, Batting titles since 1987
First Basemen: 8
Third Basemen: 8
Second Baseman: 1
Designated Hitters: 1
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