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June 5, 2007

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and Joe Morgan

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , , — Perich @ 8:58 am

There’s already a site doing it better, but I’d like to weigh in on something terribly stupid Joe Morgan said during last Sunday’s Red Sox / Yankees game.

He said, and I paraphrase, “guys like Ted Williams didn’t get to be hitting champions by getting walked a lot. People talk all the time about drawing walks, but Ted Williams didn’t get a lot of walks.”

Ted Williams, USMCEven without access to a laptop, the Internet and a century of baseball statistics at the time, I knew in my heart that that was false. First, because Joe Morgan was saying it with authority. And second, because, well, when you’re pitching to a guy who hits .318 on a bad season, you’ll occasionally throw a few outside.

However, I’d be no better than Stumbling Joe himself if I didn’t find the facts to back me up. So here, in an easy to read chart, are the all-time career walk leaders:

Rank Player Years AB BB
1. Barry Bonds 21 9507 2426
2. Rickey Henderson 25 10961  2190
3. Babe Ruth 22 8399 2062
4. Ted Williams 19 7706 2019
5. Joe Morgan 22 9277 1865
6. Carl Yastrzemski 23 11988 1845
etc.

(Edited to clean up HTML and revise figures that suggested Rickey Henderson was one of the “giants in the earth […] mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Genesis 6:4))

It’s no longer shocking that Joe Morgan has such little respect for statistical analysis that he’d be flat-out, incontrovertibly wrong about whether Teddy Ballgame drew a lot of walks or just a few. That’s par for the course. The man wouldn’t be doing his job if he were right more than half the time.

But you’d think that, given the fact that Ted William’s #4 and Joe Morgan himself is #5, that he’d at least remember that number. That he might have heard his own name brought up in that context before. That Joe Morgan might at least be cognizant of a record he’s really really close to Ted Williams on.

Ted Williams drew 154 more walks than Joe Morgan did, over 1571 fewer at-bats. That tells me that, yeah, better hitters draw more walks, regardless of how counter-intuitive that might strike the dumbest man to talk about baseball since Tim McCarver. It also tells me that Joe Morgan not only knows nothing about statistics – he knows nothing about his own career.

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