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The 2013 White Sox versus the Dreaded Leadoff Walk

Has Hawk Harrelson's least favorite base on balls really been as deadly as he seems to insist?

Dammit Time Baby, not again!
Dammit Time Baby, not again!

Unless you're one of the fans who absolutely do not listen to Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone's broadcasts, you're well aware of Hawk's aversion to "the Dreaded Leadoff Walk" (I've decided to make it a proper noun). If one was to take Hawk's word for gospel, you would be kind of an idiot. Not just because he's Hawk, but c'mon now. You're an adult and a critical thinking being! You're better than that. You're supposed to take our words as gospel.

But now that I am home from the dreaded Sunflower State for what amounts to tens of days, I have free time to finally write as much and as often as I want again.

During last night's game, Matt Thornton walked the first two hitters he faced in the top of the 7th inning and as will happen, both came around to score. This had me wondering how often the Dreaded Leadoff Walk has actually come around to bite the White Sox in the rear so far this season. So I spent my morning reading through all 43 box scores from this season, because I love you.

The White Sox pitching staff has issued 139 walks this season. Of those 139, 35 have ultimately scored, good for 25.2%.

24 of the 139 walks were of the leadoff variety. Eleven of them have resulted in the hitter who walked scoring, making Hawk's worst nightmare come true 45.8% of the time. Edit: the esteemed Christopher Kamka has informed me he has it at 10 of 24, making 41.7% the real number. That is not good. Obviously there are small sample size caveats and arbitrary end points in my data collection. For instance, if I had decided to write about this topic before the last series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the numbers would look are less frightening. Over the past week, the Sox have walked seven hitters to lead off an inning. Six of those hitters have scored. So we'd be looking at five runners out of seventeen having scored, which is far more palatable.

I'll take another look at this around the All Star Break and towards the end of the season, as it's kind of an interesting thing to keep an eye on. But as for now at least, maybe Hawk is onto something.