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Are Walks Good or Bad in 5x5?

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Are Walks Good or Bad in 5x5?

Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri May 26, 2006 3:48 pm

This is a question that I don't think has been properly evaluated (or if it has I've never seen the analysis for it).

The question is whether a guy that is willing to take a walk is a help or a hinderance in 5x5 roto leagues. I'll just toss out my initial thoughts on the effect on each of the 5 categories and we can start our discussion from there.

Runs: Walks are good here. The only question is how good. I think this is one that would be team/lineup position dependant making it hard to analyze but maybe some general rule of thumb for obp - batting average translating to a certain % more in runs would be a good way to estimate the positive effect on run scoring ability.

HR's/RBI's: Difficult to say with any certainty here. On a surface level examination anything that reduces the number of at bats reduces the opportunity to hit home runs and drive in runs. However there's a school of thought that says being selective at the plate gets you better pitches to drive which would indicate a possible positive effect. My opinion - both schools of thought are correct but hr/rbi's would likely see a slight downturn along the obp - batting average curve.

SB's: Same thing with Runs scored...I would think we could estimate a certain % bump based on obp - batting average.

Batting Average: This is where I think you have your major demarcation between walks being good or bad. If a guy has a batting average that can help your team then you want to get as many at bats from him as you can meaning the larger the difference between obp and batting average the worse his walks are hurting you here. Conversely if you have a guy like Adam Dunn then you want him to walk as much as possible (at least when it comes to batting average) so that his average doesn't hurt you as badly.

Overall I would tend to think that guys hitting in the 1, 2 and even somewhat in the 3 slots in the order have their 5x5 fantasy value improved by walks (especially if they run at all). Guys hitting lower in the order though (with the exception of batting average killers like Adam Dunn) have their value decreased by walking (assuming they don't get the reputation as a free swinger and see less hitter's pitches).

That's just a surface analysis but I figured I'd open it up to other people's thoughts.
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Postby cordscords » Fri May 26, 2006 3:54 pm

Gives you an opportunity to steal and score a run, shows that you saw the ball well enough to get on base.

Then again, so does a hit.

For fantasy purposes, walks dont mean anything statistically. But walks are a fairly good indicator for other things.

So while they are nice, they arent neccesarelly helping.
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Postby Nerfherders » Fri May 26, 2006 4:01 pm

In my experience players score about 40% of the time they get on base - this seems to be fairly universal, so the more times someone gets on base, the more runs they will score. This isnt necesarrily true for individual players, but for teams overall.
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri May 26, 2006 4:14 pm

Nerfherders wrote:In my experience players score about 40% of the time they get on base - this seems to be fairly universal, so the more times someone gets on base, the more runs they will score. This isnt necesarrily true for individual players, but for teams overall.


Right...on the runs scored end obviously a walk (where you're on base 100% of the time) is better than a non-walk (where you're on base at a clip equal to your batting average + any errors/fielders choices). And while I hadn't heard the 40% number it sounds very likely for a team. However I would guess that each slot in the batting order has a much different number with the #1-3 slots scoring more than 40% of the time and a tail-off effect as you work your way down through the order. For a detailed analysis you'd have to look at spot in the batting order. For a cursory examination 40% of (obp-avg) would work to quantify the positive effect that walks have on runs.

The next question would be how bad the negative impact on hr's and rbi's is from walks. I think the ceiling for negative impact would be a percentage loss in hr/rbi equal to walks divided by plate appearances (since a walk at its worst is completely removing the opportunity for a home run and almost completely removing the opportunity for an rbi). You'd have to try and make some determination though of whether the worst case is true given that the hitter might get better pitches to hit with increased plate discipline and vice versa.

As for why I'm looking at this it's more of a curiousity thing than anything else. You can't make a guy on your fantasy team walk less or walk more on a whim and you're not going to avoid or draft a guy based on what his current walk rate is. The one practical implication I can see is to use what we find here in analysis when a hitter starts showing a significantly better (or worse) amount of discipline at the plate. In that case you could use these tools to determine whether this is a positive trend for the player in question or a negative one. Without detailed analysis of each category the answer would be a guess at best.
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri May 26, 2006 4:17 pm

cordscords wrote:Gives you an opportunity to steal and score a run, shows that you saw the ball well enough to get on base.

Then again, so does a hit.

For fantasy purposes, walks dont mean anything statistically. But walks are a fairly good indicator for other things.

So while they are nice, they arent neccesarelly helping.


I definitely agree with all of those things. What I'm looking for more than what they indicate about a player is what effect they have on the 5x5 stat line. Obviously a hitter that starts drawing more walks has become a better real life hitter all other things (hr/ab, k/ab, etc) being equal. But a better real life hitter isn't necessarily a better fantasy hitter. And I don't think there's a clear-cut answer to whether an increase (or decrease) in the obp/batting average spread is good or bad. But I think it would be an enjoyable exercise to find some way of quantifying the answer to that question.
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Postby garf112 » Fri May 26, 2006 4:21 pm

I've seen studies about aging that might help us here. A player's walk rate and his HR total go up as he gets older. Does that tell us that a more patient player will see his HR total go up? Maybe. Just food for thought.

I don't think the walks take away from HR opportunities, as the player obviously did not see a pitch that he could hit out of the park in that at bat. Unless he is Mike Piazza and watches meatballs go down the pipe on EVERY 3-0 count.

They may take away from RBI totals a little bit. Runner on 3rd less than two outs. Player walks... no rbi. Player hits the ball, but gets out... high probability of getting an rbi.
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Postby PinotResa » Fri May 26, 2006 4:24 pm

The weight of average for a poor average hitter is less if he walks more often. In this case walks are good for runs and lessening the effect of say Brad Wilkerson's or Adam Dunn's average.

A more specific question might be, what is the trade off for an individual player from walking more to attempting to make contact.
Last edited by PinotResa on Fri May 26, 2006 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby giants! » Fri May 26, 2006 4:24 pm

I dont see how walks can help hrs and rbis. Weve seen it with Bay and Cabrera this year among others. On the other hand, it certainly helps in the runs and sbs categories
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Postby chadlincoln » Fri May 26, 2006 4:26 pm

They don't help. Your guys walks, next guy gets out, you have nothing to show for it. Your guy gets a single, next guy strikes out, you then have something to show for it in average. I guess it's better than 0-1, but doesn't directly help at all.
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Postby The Loveable Losers » Fri May 26, 2006 4:29 pm

garf112 wrote:I've seen studies about aging that might help us here. A player's walk rate and his HR total go up as he gets older. Does that tell us that a more patient player will see his HR total go up? Maybe. Just food for thought.

I don't think the walks take away from HR opportunities, as the player obviously did not see a pitch that he could hit out of the park in that at bat. Unless he is Mike Piazza and watches meatballs go down the pipe on EVERY 3-0 count.

They may take away from RBI totals a little bit. Runner on 3rd less than two outs. Player walks... no rbi. Player hits the ball, but gets out... high probability of getting an rbi.


Very good points there. I think there may be something to the walk rate and hr totals going up in tandem...in fact there are definitely studies that show a correlation there. The question is how much that mitigates the fact that they did not hit a home run in the plate appearances that they walked. And there is also the fact that you mentioned that a lot of walks come because the batter did not get a pitch to drive. So you would have to adjust for that as well.

These things are all quantifiable but the problem is there are a lot of factors to consider...once we figure out all of the factors and come up with some way to measure the effect of each one it should be relatively simple to design the formulas to define the effect that a change in plate discipline would have on the 5x5 roto value of the player.
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