It’s always important to remember that statistics can lie. They’re interesting, and if used with caution they can reveal all kinds of truths. Most statistics are silly, though. When we mock old guard baseball minds who quote eight-plate-appearance samples of one batter against a particular pitcher, or what Mike Moustakas has done in home day games this year, it’s implied: those statistics don’t tell you anything meaningful. So here’s what we’ll do today: I’m going to tell you a statistic, and then we’ll try to find out if it’s meaningful.
Carlos Santana has walked in 30.4% of his plate appearances this year. If you hear that and think “Wow, that’s a lot of walks,” you’re absolutely correct. Santana has always walked a lot, but not like this. Walking that often hardly looks like baseball. It lets him run a ludicrous, .182/.430/.255 slash line. The question is, does it mean anything?
Here’s a simplistic way of looking at it: Santana has batted a lot of times in the major leagues. He’s up to 6,226 plate appearances over 11 seasons of work. How many times has he walked this often in a 19-game stretch? Exactly none:
Think of it this way. Before the…