Talking about this deal with my friends.. we kinda hope the Walker doesn't drop in the line-up. It's just kinda fun to see Larry Walker as your #2 hitter, it's like the early warning that there is more pain to come with Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, and Sanders.
...Boston papers now and then suffer a sharp flurry of arithmetic on this score; indeed, for Williams to have distributed all his hits so they did nobody else any good would constitute a feat of placement unparalleled in the annals of selfishness. -Updike
He'll do well for them if he stays healthy. As a Cubs fan, I am disgusted by the thought of him playing for those icky Cards. However, I understand he needs to work--too bad that another team didn't sign him, though.
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Now when Walker goes down with an injury I have no idea what they'll do. That's why I still think they will make a move for a better SS via trade so they can slide Eck to 2B and put Grudzielanek on the bench. I still maintain what I've said all along, that if they just get solid defense up the middle the offense should take care of itself, but another solid bat never hurts.
JDD wrote:If the Cards were smart, they would NOT bat their middle infielders in the one-two hole next season.... here are their 2004 OBP numbers (Womack was at .349):
i have no idea how true this is, but apparently eck was good at drawing walks in the minors but was encouraged to be a free swinger in the majors. perhaps with a different hitting coach he can ge that obp to a respectable level.
As has been mentioned many times, Eck has a career OBP of .347. Not mentioned quite as often is the fact that he hasn't had an OBP that high since the 2002 season, when Eckstein helped take the Angels to a World Series championship. In that season, Eckstein had a career high .363 OBP along with 21 stolen bases, putting him in a position to score 107 runs. In the two following seasons, Eckstein only got on base at a rate of .325 and .339 respectively.
In some of the various articles and message boards I checked out after the signing, I began to read some things that - in my mind - made a little sense. Some of the posters on Baseball Think Factory pointed out that Eckstein had actually been very good at drawing walks while in the minor leagues. Their reasoning for his lack of walks in the majors was simple - the Anaheim Angels and hitting coach Mackey Sasser preach against drawing walks. This did not seem completely out of line for me, as I remember many Rob Neyer types during the 2002 playoffs talking about how much the Angels depended on hitting rather than getting on base. The theory then was, if the bats cooled down they were sunk. As it ends up, they didn't, so they weren't. (Of course, they haven't won a playoff series since 2002.)
So - is that true? Was Eckstein better at getting on base in the minors? I looked up his numbers on The Baseball Cube, which I might add is a great resource for minor league and college numbers. What did I see? Quite an improvement. While in the Red Sox system, Eckstein actually drew 87 walks over 503 at-bats in A ball, followed up by 89 walks over 483 at-bats in AA. Unfortunately, however, TBC doesn't have hi by pitch stats from the minors, and thus they do not have minor league OBP values. So....I made some predictions. Based upon his career HBP numbers, I calculated Ecksteins minor league OBP's.
Interestingly enough, we see (in my estimation) an increasing OBP from level to level until he hit AAA, in which his OBP fell. Of course, those are estimations on my part that could change greatly depending on how many times he was hit by pitch. So, let's just look at his walk rate, which I'm calculating as BB divided by AB (even though a walk doesn't count as an AB).
That is quite a drastic change between 2000 (last year in the minors) and 2001 (rookie campaign.) I think that it is in fact quite possible that Eckstein was changing his approach at the plate once he reached the major leagues. Whether is was an edict from the Angels, his own choice, tougher competition, or a combination of the three? Well, we may never know. However, it's hard to imagine a guy that was able to walk around 15% of the time suddenly becoming so overpowered by opposing pitchers that his walk rate fell off by a factor of two. I personally think that this is encouraging. Hopefully, the Cardinals and new hitting coach Hal McRae will encourage Eckstein to get on base more often via the free pass. If so, maybe an OBP of .350 or greater will not be out of the question after all.