I have already written about the players with walk to strikeout ratios (BB/K) greater than or equal to 1.00 for 2017 and relatively (depending on your definition of the word) recently created a dashboard showing the MLB history of this feat so I guess it only make sense for me to write a post about who has joined this club following the 2018 season. I really did not intend for this to be a primary topic I would be covering on this blog, but I feel like it is my job at this point to continue to keep you updated on this subject. I really do not want to let all six (approximate guess) of my readers down. That said, I do find the topic interesting (or else I would not be doing this) as players with great plate discipline are a rare occurrence in today’s game and it might help me uncover some underrated players in my deeper fantasy leagues. The following post will highlight all the qualified batters who have been added as well as address the unqualified batters added who I deem interesting enough to write about.
Note: The number in parenthesis next to a player’s name indicates the number of seasons where they have met this criteria.
For the 2018 season, there were a total of 30 player seasons added to the list seasons with a BB/K of at least 1.00. Of those 30, three of the batters have already had a season that qualified them for the board. They are Joey Votto (4) , Dustin Pedroia (6), and 2018 Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (3). Additionally, of the 30, only four of the batters who qualified for the batting title also met my requirement: Joey Votto, Alex Bregman (1), Jose Ramirez (2), and Carlos Santana (3). This is an interesting foursome of hitters containing three 2018 All Stars, most likely two top 6 finishers in 2018 AL MVP voting, and Carlos Santana.
Despite a relatively down year for Votto (second lowest WAR, 3.5, behind 2014, 0.8), he managed to appear on this list again, which highlights his impressive batting eye. In addition, this is his second year in a row completing this feat while qualifying for the batting title. I was actually shocked to see that this was only his fourth season in my dashboard as he is known for his control of the strike zone and ability to draw walks. He loves walking so much that after his baseball career is over, he wants to be able to assist others with their own walking.
It is possible I might be short sighted in my thinking due to unhealthy years from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but I feel that Bregman might be the best player on the Astros. He was number #7 on Fangraphs 2018 Mid season Trade value series, albeit Correa was #5, which is great, but I was expecting him to be higher up. He and Mookie Betts, who I am surprised was not in this group considering the year he had, were the main reasons I cashed in my AL only fantasy league (Note: this is probably the reason I ambiased). He does everything well, will just be turning 25 at the start of next season, and nothing in his 2018 profile jumps out to me as being a fluke. If you are the Astros, or someone who owns him in a keeper/dynasty league, you are probably very excited about the future.
The most valuable player in baseball from Fangraph’s 2018 mid season trade value series is Jose Ramirez. Every year he has been in the league, he has continued to improve and will only be 26 at the start of next season. The Indians were very smart to ink him to his current extension when they did as he has gone on to post back to back seasons worthy of being in the top 3 of AL MVP voting. His overall profile from 2018 looks very sustainable as well indicating another strong season next year. The only other time Ramirez made this list was in 2013 where he managed two walks and two strikeouts in 15 plate appearances (PA).
2018 was the first year in Carlos Santana’s three year deal with the Phillies and it resulted in 1.9 WAR, his lowest total since his rookie season in 2010 (1.8 WAR). With Rhys Hoskins as a building block for the future, I was not sure why the Phillies gave him that deal at the time. Maybe it was for his veteran presence after being apart a of multiple winning Indians team, but whatever the reason was, they have decided they no longer want him on their roster for the remainder of the deal. It should be noted that the other year Carlos made this list was in 2016, his best full time offensive season when the Indians made it to the World series, and he did so by having the exact same number of walks to strikeouts (99). Despite Santana being the worst player of this group, he has always showed a strong ability to take walks which is one of the reasons he made this list even in a down year.
After those four qualified hitters, the only other batter with over 100 PA on this list was Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker (1). 2018 was Winker’s rookie season, and my “different” choice for NL rookie of the year (Note: if you did not read my preseason predictions, take a look if you want to have a good laugh), that was unfortunately cut short due to shoulder issues in July. He has since had surgery and should be ready for spring training 2019. For those of you unaware, his strongest tool is his hit tool (listed as a 60/70 for Present/Future value at Fangraphs prior to the 2018 season). He has always posted high walk rates and low strikeout rates in the minors, but only managed one season, 2016 AA with over 400 PA, to have a BB/K of at least 1.00 prior to this year. I would like to think that without the shoulder issues, he would have joined his teammate Votto among the qualified hitters.
Before moving on the final hitters, I wanted to share an anecdote about Jesse Winker. Sometime in the summer of 2017, I found myself at a Norfolk Tides (AAA for the Orioles) game where the opposing team was the Louisville Bats (AAA for the Reds) and on the Bats’ roster was one Jesse Winker. I was there with my family enjoying a nice summer evening, but I recall paying special attention to Winker’s at bats because he was one of the players I was most familiar. If I remember this correctly, there was one at bat that Winker had where he did not swing at a single pitch thrown. Unfortunately, it resulted in him being called out on strikes, but I feel like that is something you do not see often, even in the majors.
While this was Pedroia’s third season making this list, he sadly only managed 13 regular season PA due to injury and had to watch his teammates win the World Series without him. Hopefully he can get healthy for next year, though I have a feeling he might end up like David Wright (1). For those unaware, David Wright played in his first game, and only game of 2018, since 2016 this season which also happened to be his final game of professional baseball. David was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015, yet managed to play well enough to help the team make it to the World Series that season. Since then though, he has barely been able to play baseball at a professional level and as Mets fan it has been very sad to see. I am glad he got to play one final game at home in front of all the fans this year.
Perhaps the most surprising player to make this list is Blake Snell. While it is not surprising to see a pitcher on this list due to the qualifications for my list, it is certainly surprising to see that he accomplished this feat in all three of his major league seasons (2016-2018) while being a pitcher in the AL. With the increase in interleague play, there are more opportunities for an AL pitcher to hit in NL parks, though it looks like Snell has only had four games worth of actual chances to hit over those three season and even more shockingly, he has managed a single walk and strikeout in each season. Looking ahead to 2019, the Rays have a total of 10 games at an NL park. Hopefully Snell has a chance to pitch during at least one of those games and manages to keep this streak of his alive!