During the 2007 season, Phillies pitchers walked 558 batters. That’s too many. Only five NL teams walked more that year. The number of walks the Phillies issued dropped in 2008 and dropped even more in 2009. During the 2009 season, Phillies pitching allowed just 489 walks. St Louis was the only team in the NL to give up fewer walks.

So the Phillies have cut down the number of walks that they issue over the past couple of seasons, which is a very good thing. That’s not today’s point, though. Today’s point is that in 2009 some Phillies pitchers were better at preventing walks with the bases empty than others.

During 2009, Phillies pitcher walked about 6.6% of the batters they faced when the based were empty and about 9.3% of the batters they faced when there was at least one man on base. Not all Phillies pitchers saw that kind of increase in the walks they allowed, though. Some walked batters at a lower rate when the bases were empty in 2009 than they did when there was at least one man on. Of the 22 pitchers who appeared for the Phillies in 2009, nine of them were better at preventing walks when there were men on base than when the bases were empty. The chart below shows, for the nine, the walks they issued per 100 plate appearances with the bases empty, where this ranks among the 22 Phillies pitchers for 2009, the walks they issued per 100 plate appearances with men on base, where this ranks among the ’09 Phillies pitchers and how much higher their rate of walking men with the bases empty was compared to with men aboard as a percentage (pitchers who faced less than 150 batters are in bold):

Player BB per 100
empty
Rank BB per 100
men on
Rank %
Myers 7.6 13 7.6 9 100.1
Taschner 14.0 19 14.0 19 100.6
Carpenter 13.3 18 11.8 16 113.3
Hamels 5.9 8 4.4 4 134.6
Bastardo 9.5 15 7.0 6 136.5
Lee 3.7 3 2.1 2 174.7
Eyre 16.7 20 8.8 11 188.9
Kendrick 10.6 16 4.3 3 243.9
Register 33.2 22 0.0 1 -

So, for example, Cole Hamels walked about 5.9% of the batters he faced with the bases empty (which was fifth-best on the team) and about 4.4% of the batters he faced with men on base (fourth-best on the team). Overall for the year his walk rate with nobody on base was about 135% of what it was with men aboard.

At the bottom of that list, Stephen Register faced just 11 batters all year long for the Phils. He walked one of the three he faced with the bases empty, giving him the worst rate of walks per 100 plate appearances on the team with nobody aboard, but none of the eight hitters he faced with men on base.

Being on the list above doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily good at preventing walks, just that in ’09 you were at least a little bit better at it than you were when there were men on base. Eyre, for example, gave up way too many walks overall, but cut down his rate considerably when there were ducks aboard.

Hamels and Kendrick are the pitchers of that group that seem likely to impact the Phillies in the future. Hamels saw his walk rate drop in 2009 while the rest of his numbers went up. He had a lot more success in 2007 and 2008 than he did in 2009 — in each of those years he rate of walking batters was better with the bases empty than with men aboard, which is the opposite of his results for 2009 (in 2006 his rates were nearly identical).

Kendrick didn’t face a ton of hitters in 2009, but was much better at preventing walks when their were men on base than when there weren’t. His walk rate overall was lower than his miserable 2008, but worse than his mark for 2007 when he was very effective. By opponent OPS, Kendrick was the Phillies best pitcher in 2009 with the bases empty. Opponents hit 203/288/203 against him (12-for-59 with 12 singles and seven walks and a .491 OPS). By comparison, they hit 287/321/393 (.753) against Cliff Lee with the bases empty. Since he didn’t walk anyone with me on base you’d think Kendrick would be pretty much invincible, but sadly despite not walking anyone Kendrick allowed opponents to hit .375 against him with men on base, which will mess things up in a jiffy.

Here’s the numbers for the 13 pitchers who allowed walks more regularly when there were runners on base:

Player BB per 100
empty
Rank BB per 100
men on
Rank %
Romero 17.2 21 18.2 21 105.5
Madson 6.5 10 7.3 8 113.3
Moyer 5.4 6 7.2 7 133.8
Condrey 6.9 12 9.6 12 138.4
Happ 6.7 11 10.1 15 151.2
Lopez 6.0 9 10.0 14 167.5
Durbin 11.0 17 19.7 22 178.5
Blanton 5.1 5 9.9 13 193.9
Lidge 8.2 14 16.2 20 198.2
Walker 3.8 4 8.3 10 216.7
Park 5.6 7 13.4 18 241.5
Martinez 1.9 1 6.9 5 358.6
Escalona 3.4 2 12.9 17 374.2

Remember that overall the Phillies walked about 9.3 batters per 100 plate appearances with men on base and about 6.6 batters with the bases empty. So the average pitcher had a walk rate that was about 141% of his walk rate with the bases empty.

Again, being on this list doesn’t necessarily mean you issued a lot of walks. Pedro, for example, issued walks at about 3 1/2 times his bases empty rate with men on base. His rate of allowing walks with men on base was still fifth-best on the team despite how much more regularly he issued walks with men aboard.

Looking again to the guys who will impact 2010, the rates that Durbin and Lidge issued walks with men on base has to be the scariest data from the chart above. Durbin walked nearly one in five men he faced with runners aboard and Lidge was nearly as bad.

Blanton also saw his rate of walks increase dramatically. With nobody on he was among the best on the team at preventing bases on balls. When men got on base he gave up a lot more and fell to the middle of the pack. Happ started in the middle and saw his rate increase at about the rate that was the average for the team.

Romero just walks a ton of folks regardless of the situation.

Madson and Moyer both walked more with men on base, but not a whole lot more and their rates for allowing walks in both circumstances were pretty good compared to the rest of the team.

This suggests that the Phillies may announce the signing of Danys Baez if he passes his physical this week. Baez missed all of 2008 after Tommy John surgery, but threw to a 4.02 ERA and a 1.13 ratio for Baltimore in 2009.

The article linked above also says that the Phillies have made a minor league offer to Eyre.

Today is the first day that players can file for arbitration. This article talks about what we might expect to happen with Victorino, Blanton, Ruiz and Durbin.