Steve Sidoti of 7 Train To Shea, had an interesting post this afternoon in which he looks at some of the parts of the book Moneyball that dealt with our new GM Sandy Alderson. Incidentally, I just started to read the book myself today.
One of the things that Steve mentions in his post is Alderson’s three rules, which are:
1 – Every batter needs to behave like a leadoff man, and adopt as his main goal getting on base.
2 – Every batter should also possess the power to hit home runs, in part because home run power forced opposing pitchers to pitch more cautiously, and led to walks, and high on base percentages.
3 – To anyone with the natural gift to become a professional baseball player, hitting was less as physical then a mental skill. Or, at any rate, the aspects of hitting that could be taught were mental.
But the part of his post that really caught my attention was this comment,
It’s important to note that under Alderson’s ruling, no player was eligible for minor league awards, or was allowed to move up in the system, unless he had a least one walk in every ten at-bats.
This is the first time I have ever heard of using walk rates to determine the readiness for a prospect’s minor league promotion or for giving out organizational awards.
I would have to think if that had been the case with the Mets in this decade, Jose Reyes may not have made it to the Major Leagues until possibly 3-4 years later than he actually did in 2003. His rookie year would have been either in 2006 or 2007 when in fact he had already established himself as one of the best leadoff hitters in the game.
Reyes never achieved that 1:10 BB/AB walk rate in Rookie Ball, Single-A, Double-A, or Triple-A. As a matter of fact, Reyes has only achieved that walk rate once in any of his full seasons since becoming a major leaguer. He accomplished the feat in 2007 when he waled 77 times in 681 at-bats. (By the way, David Wright was simply a beast in the minor leagues and easily blew that walk rate out of the water.)
One player who I believe the Mets have rushed through the system is Fernando Martinez. The teenage hitting machine would still be seasoning in Double-A if the Mets had been utilizing Sandy Alderson’s philosophy, which would have definitely been a good thing in my opinion.
There are strong arguments on both sides of this issue and plenty of data to support both sides of the argument as well.
I haven’t examined it enough to form my own opinion on it yet, but wanted to throw it out there and get your own thoughts on it.
Where do you stand on using walk rate to that extreme and how would you feel if Alderson were to institute it as part of our overall minor league philosophy?