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April 11 2007

Downtrodden, and with much of my goodwill for the season sapped after just seven games, I set out on a quest to find some good news about the 2007 Phillies.  Here's what I came up with:  if the Phillies walk at the rate they have over the first seven games for the next 155 games, they are virtually assured of tremendous offensive success.

Last year, the Phillies led the NL in walks with 626.  In the first seven games this season, the team has walked an absurd 40 times.  They lead all of baseball.  Half of the Phillies eight regulars, Burrell, Rollins, Victorino and Howard, are on-basing at least .400.  If that group of four players stays healthy all year and all four continue to on-base .400 the Phillies simply can't be stopped, no matter what the bullpen does.  Of the rest of the group of the starters, Utley is on-basing .314, which is sure to improve.  Rowand is on-basing .367, which would be a career-high for him for any season in which he got at least 150 at-bats.   While you might discard the notion that he could get on base that often for an entire season, don't forget that he on-based .361 in his 2004 campaign, which was the best offensive year of his career.  Helms is on-basing .318 and, for the catching tandem of Ruiz and Barajas, Ruiz is on-basing .318 in 22 at-bats and Barajas .111 in his eight at-bats.

Forty walks in seven games is an average of about 5.71 per game.  If the Phillies walked 5.71 times per game over 162 games, they would tally about 926 walks for the season.  Sadly, the Phillies aren't going to walk 926 times this year, or 900 times, or 800 times, and probably not 700 times.

Over the past six years only one team in either league has walked more than 700 times in a season.  Here's a look at the teams that have led MLB in walks over the past six years, keeping in mind that the Phillies led the NL in walks last year with 626 with Abreu on the squad for 98 games:

 

Year BB Team
2006 672 BOS
2005 653 BOS
2004 705 SF
2003 684 NYY
2002 643 AZ
2001 678 SD

With two outs and runners in scoring position, the Phillies are hitting .156 so far this season.  With the bases loaded, they are batting .000 (0-for-8).  Sooner or later those numbers are going to come around.  If the Phillies can continue to walk anywhere near as much as they have so far, when they do it will mean a lot of runs.

According to this page on Baseball Almanac, the single-season record for team walks is 835 in the American League by the 1949 Boston Red Sox and 732 in the NL by the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. 

Adam Eaton (0-1, 13.50) faces lefty Oliver Perez (1-0, 1.29) tonight.  Phillies fans would love to see Eaton have a nice outing.  After getting shelled this spring, Eaton opened the regular season last Thursday against the Braves and was hit hard.  He went just 4 2/3 innings, allowing  eight runs on seven hits and four walks.  Only seven of the runs were earned.  He was okay early before giving up six runs in the top of the fifth.  Oliver Perez made his lone start on Friday against the Braves and was tremendous.  He got the win, going seven innings in which he allowed one run on five hits.  He didn't walk a batter and struck out six.  Jeff Francoeur got him for a fourth inning homer, but otherwise he handled a tough Braves offense.  He didn't do much against the Phils in his two '06 starts, going 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA.  In 8 2/3 innings he allowed eight hits and ten walks but struck out 11.

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