More on walks, this time using career numbers to look at the difference between the rate 13 potentially key Phillies for ’09 walk with the bases empty and with the bases not empty. For each of the hitters, here’s the percentage of their plate appearances where they’ve walked when they came to the plate with men on base, the percentage of their plate appearances where they’ve walked when they came up with the bases empty and the difference between the two:

 
Men on

Bases Empty
 

Player

% BB

% BB

Difference

Ryan Howard

17.1

9.7

7.4

Ronny Paulino

9.3

5.2

4.1

Jimmy Rollins

9.2

6.3

2.9

Geoff Jenkins

9.5

6.6

2.9

Raul Ibanez

9.5

7.4

2.1

Carlos Ruiz

11.2

9.6

1.6

Greg Dobbs

6.6

5.3

1.3

Eric Bruntlett

9.6

8.8

0.9

Shane Victorino

7.1

6.3

0.8

Chase Utley

9.1

8.3

0.8

Jayson Werth

12.0

11.4

0.6

Pedro Feliz

5.4

5.1

0.4

Chris Coste

4.4

4.8

-0.4

Enormous difference for Ryan Howard, who was walked about 1.76 times as often with men aboard than he has with the bases empty. On the other end of the scale, Chris Coste is the only player in the group who has walked less often with men on base than with the bases empty.

Who is hitting behind you no doubt has an impact on how often you walk with men on base. Chase Utley, for example, has a walk rate over his career with men on base that’s very similar to his walk rate with the bases empty, which may have a lot to do with all the time he’s spent hitting ahead of Ryan Howard.

Others are a little harder to explain. Pedro Feliz and Ronny Paulino have walked at about the same rate with the bases empty, but Paulino has walked at a much higher rate with men on base.

One thing I do wonder about sometimes is whether the Phillies would be better off hitting Victorino first and Rollins second, assuming that those two guys are going to hit one and two in the order anyway. I think I would still go with Rollins hitting leadoff, but over their careers they have walked at a very similar rate with the bases empty while Rollins has drawn walks more of the time when he came to the plate with men aboard. In 2008, both Rollins and Victorino continued to walk at about the same rate with the bases empty. Victorino walked 22 times in 345 plate appearances (6.38% of the time) while Rollins walked 26 times in 406 plate appearances (6.40% of the time). Rollins’ walk numbers with men on base, however, shot way up compared to what he has done for his career. In 2008 he got 219 plate appearances with men aboard and drew 32 walks. That’s about 14.6% of his plate appearances.

Also of note on Rollins is that despite the fact that his offensive numbers overall for 2008 were down compared to ’06 and ’07, he was a monster with the bat with men on base and not just by drawing walks. Rollins got 219 plate appearances with men on base in ’08 and hit .324 and slugged .559. Both of those numbers are near career highs for him with men on base. In 2006 he slugged .560 with men on base and in 2000, in 18 plate appearances, he hit .353 with men on base.

Finally, Bruntlett has walked more often over his career than I would have guessed. Howard, Ruiz and Werth are the only three players of the group of 13 who have walked more than him in their plate appearances with the bases empty. There’s really very little reason for a right-handed pitcher to walk Bruntlett unless he’s hitting in front of the pitcher.

This suggests the Phillies may be interested in Gabe Kapler and Normar Garciaparra as right-handed bats off the bench. Sounds good to me, Phils are going to need more right-handed hitting. Kapler may be easier to use in the field, but either of those guys would help.

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