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The Anti-Cavans: the most games needed to walk 100 times

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Some players walk, some players...don’t

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On September 12th, Cavan Biggio walked his way into the Blue Jays record books:

In fact, the feat was of a historical nature even beyond Blue Jays history:

Biggio is so prodigious at drawing free passes that by the end of 2020, his 16.1% walk rate is the highest in franchise history for anyone with at least 250 plate appearances, edging out Jose Bautista (15.23%) and Fred McGriff (15.16%). And both of their totals are padded by intentional walks (14.3% and 13.8% non-intentional walk rates, respectively), whereas Biggio not yet had a recorded IBB.

Only Rickey Henderson, who walked 35 times (and did little else) in his 203 regular season trips to the plate after his mid-season 1993 trade has a higher walk rate in a Jays uniform for any player with more than 100 PA. Lee Mazzilli at 19.8% in 86 PA also after a deadline acquisition in 1989 is the only other player in franchise history with more than five walks to have a higher rate.

Fun fact/aside: the much maligned Derek Fisher currently sits 9th for highest walk rate in franchise history among players with at least 100 PA at 14.4%.

The list in the tweet above shows the complete top five of the fastest to 100 walks in franchise history. I was somewhat struck however by how little overlap there is between that above and the very top of list of highest walk rates in franchise history — among the fastest only Biggio and McGriff rank among the top seven. Velez was a platoon player, and Olerud and Delgado didn’t walk as much until they blossomed into hitters who pitchers were more careful to. Bautista is a mix of both.


It also made me curious what a list of the slowest players to 100 walks in franchise history would look like. It’s simple enough to just filter a leaderboard for lowest walk rates, but for the similar reasons that the other lists didn’t entirely line-up, here too there will be discrepancies. To wit, I completely drew a blank on the leader of that list, Robert Perez, who managed to walk just 8 of 350 PA across bits of 1994-1997. Players who rarely walk tend to lesser players who don’t stick around much.

In total, 499 different Blue Jays have been credited with at least one plate appearance; of those 404 have been non-pitchers. 259, or just under two-thirds, registered even 100 PA with the Jays, and only 183 have got to 250 PA. Only 123 have reached the 500 PA threshold, the bare minimum one would need to get to 100 walks (Ted Williams being the career leader with a 20.6% walk rate). So it’s already a pretty select club.

In turn, not even half of those have recorded 100 walks — just 58 have walked 100 times in a Toronto uniform. Biggio was the most recent to join that list, and Teoscar Hernandez before him in late August. Randal Grichuk (75), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (66), and Danny Jansen (61) have shots to join the list in 2021 (Bo Bichette will likely have to wait a few years).

But without further ado, the top five most games in franchise needed to record 100 walks:

5. Alfredo Griffin, 549 games

Here is the odd player who actually walked less as time went on. In his first full time season in 1979, he walked 40 times in 689 PA but only 41 times over the next two years. After his first four seasons in Toronto, he had exactly 100 non-IBB in 571 games and 2,375 PA (4.2%).

4. Kevin Pillar, 578 games

Pillar was an everyday player (too) often at the top of the order , so this is actually more impressive than at first glance. It took him 2,191 plate appearances to get to 100 on May 1st, 2018 (and a few more until his 100th non-IBB the next day).

3. Pat Borders, 686 games

It was not an ability to draw free passes that made Borders the primary backstop of back-to-back World Series winners. He drew his 100th career walk on May 13th, 1994; 10 of those were intentional. It was not until August 1st and game 736 that he reached 100 non-IBBs. 11 days later came the strike, the end of the season, and Borders’s first stint in Toronto.

2. Damaso Garcia, 792 games

Damo notched his 100th Toronto walk on April 25th, 1986, after more than five full seasons and 3300 PA as a regular. Again, 10 times the opposition gave him the free pass, so it was not until August 4th and his 871st game that he notched the 100th fully earned. True to form, he did not walk the rest of the season and thus ended his tenure with exactly 100 non-IBB in 902 games and 3,756 PA (2.66%).

1. Garth Iorg, 853 games

On June 10th, 1987 — more than a decade after being selected in the 1976 expansion draft, Iorg drew his 100th walk. Almost inexplicably for a career 71 wRC+ hitter, nine of those were intentional. Excluding those, it was not until game 895 against Cleveland on August 1st that he got to 100 non-intentional walks, in the midst of a veritable walking spree (his third in five days and first of four games with a walk).

A surprising winner, considering how allergic others on this list were at walking, but like with Velez a result of being a platoon player. His 931 games ranks 15th in franchise history; his 2,615 PA just 29th.

Honourable mention to the following low walk rates who didn’t get to 100 with the Jays: Dave McKay (3.4% in 999 PA), Mookie Wilson (3.7% in 1134 PA), John McDonald (4.0% in 1453 PA), Homer Bush (4.0% in 1222)

Poll

The Blue Jays player most historically allergic to walking is:

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Damaso Garcia
    (72 votes)
  • 6%
    Alfredo Griffin
    (29 votes)
  • 65%
    Kevin Pillar
    (271 votes)
  • 10%
    Other
    (43 votes)
415 votes total Vote Now