The Brewers and Walking In Runs

Possibly the most frustrating thing about this year's Brewers team is the number of walks issued by the pitching staff. Even worse are the walks with the bases loaded. Through 14 games, five Brewers pitchers have combined to walk in seven runs.

Roguejim summed up the way I (and probably many others) feel:

Before the season, I would have sworn that 2 bases-loaded walks per team per season was about right. We should now be good through 2012.

It turns out two is a little bit low. Only two teams (Toronto and Minnesota with two and four, respectively) walked in fewer than eight runs last season. The average is about 10 per team each year. The Crew walked in ten runs in 2008.

But really, the only thing that last paragraph tells us about this year is something we already know: the Brewers have walked in a heck of a lot of runs so far.

Here's a look at the number of bases loaded walks in Brewers history.

Year 123 PA 123 BB Year 123 PA 123 BB
2009 26 7 1989 121 5
2008 171 10 1988 108 10
2007 173 7 1987 146 15
2006 175 15 1986 115 5
2005 165 10 1985 113 4
2004 138 5 1984 137 9
2003 166 9 1983 133 10
2002 191 16 1982 109 3
2001 198 7 1981 75 6
2000 209 20 1980 106 3
1999 193 20 1979 108 4
1998 170 15 1978 121 7
1997 158 10 1977 150 9
1996 166 17 1976 158 11
1995 155 11 1975 179 13
1994 90 9 1974 128 7
1993 165 7 1973 207 16
1992 133 8 1972 130 9
1991 127 3 1971 134 6
1990 168 9 1970 165 9

 

The seven bases-loaded walks so far in 2009 is as many or more than the team had in sixteen of thirty-nine prior seasons in Milwaukee. That alone is bad enough, but there's a couple other things I want to point out.

From 2000 to 2002, the Brewers finished last in the league in bases on balls. Yet this year's team has already equaled 2001's mark in bases loaded walks. It should be obvious that the number of runs walked in doesn't tell you much about the quality of the staff from year-to-year, but that's still pretty depressing. Take a look at that year's pitching staff to feel a bit better about this year's rotation. The 2009 squad is almost halfway to the total put up by the cobbled-together staff of 2006. The 1979 and 1980 teams avoided free runs, but that's to be expected from a group that had the fewest walks in the AL those years.

Here's some information on individual pitchers walking in runs. Jeff Suppan obviously bears the brunt of criticism this year, thanks to his disastrous three bases loaded walks against the Cubs, but he's still got a couple more to go to match the team record for a season. In 1987, rookie Chuck Crim walked in five runs. Seven Brewers pitchers, including Cal Eldred and Doug Davis, have walked in four runs in a single season.

Suppan, with five bases loaded walks since joining the Crew, is just under halfway to the Brewers' career mark. Lefty Bob McClure, a member of the 1982 team, walked in 11 runs over 10 seasons in Milwaukee. RHP Eduardo Rodriguez, a swingman in the 1970s, is second on the list with nine. Oh, and because I know someone out there is wondering: Bill Castro only walked in one run for the Brewers and two for his career.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Brewers will fall off their current pace and won't walk in 81 runs. Thanks to their lovely start to the year, though, they just might challenge the team record of twenty. Jeff Suppan has 5+ months to work his way into team record territory as well. So the next time the Brewers fail with the bases loaded, look at it this way: you're watching history in the making!

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