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Hitters That Are Walking More

Some hitters take their sweet time getting up to speed in the spring. Their walk rates might look nothing like what you expect. Things can improve in a hurry, though. Let’s look at hitters that have most increased their walks since April.

Cincinnati Reds v Atlanta Braves
Joey Votto, seen here smugly running the bases, is a king of walks, but started slow this year.
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last week, I looked at hitters that have most cut down on their strikeouts since April (and May), highlighted by guys like Justin Upton who are emerging from awful slumps to start the season. This time, I’m going to do the same thing I did in that post with walk rate. We’re looking for guys that have increased their walk rates the most since April, and then again in May and June. The hope is that we can find guys that fell off the fantasy radar with their poor starts but are turning it around and their increasing walk rate is a sign that they are done slumping and ready to be fantasy-relevant again.

Also, the typical small sample size caveats apply here, given that we are slicing the season into two full months and one half month, so there will be some noise in the data.

First table up: May BB% - April BB%. I arbitrarily cut off the list at 5% improvement, which is still a substantial increase.

Player May - April
Jackie Bradley Jr. 9.3%
Bryce Harper 9.0%
Aaron Hill 8.5%
George Springer 7.4%
Joey Rickard 7.3%
Neil Walker 6.8%
Carlos Santana 6.4%
Manny Machado 6.4%
Justin Upton 6.2%
Justin Turner 5.5%
Rajai Davis 5.1%
Hanley Ramirez 5.1%

Here’s the table for May BB% - June BB%

Player June - May
Jayson Werth 14.9%
Josh Donaldson 11.2%
Asdrubal Cabrera 11.0%
Chris Carter 9.8%
Joey Votto 8.8%
Chris Davis 8.3%
Jordy Mercer 8.0%
Gregory Polanco 7.9%
Jason Kipnis 7.9%
Eric Hosmer 7.8%
Jean Segura 7.6%
Justin Smoak 7.1%
Freddie Freeman 7.1%
Jonathan Schoop 6.9%
Neil Walker 6.8%
Corey Seager 6.6%
Victor Martinez 6.1%
Daniel Murphy 5.8%
Charlie Blackmon 5.7%
Hanley Ramirez 5.5%
Ben Zobrist 5.0%

Finally, here’s June BB% - April BB%

Player June - April
Neil Walker 13.6%
Josh Donaldson 12.4%
Joey Votto 10.6%
Hanley Ramirez 10.6%
Jayson Werth 9.8%
Eric Hosmer 9.1%
Justin Upton 8.3%
Jordy Mercer 8.0%
Aaron Hill 7.5%
Asdrubal Cabrera 6.9%
Mookie Betts 6.9%
Jason Kipnis 6.9%
Jean Segura 6.8%
Edwin Encarnacion 6.5%
Evan Longoria 6.4%
Jose Iglesias 5.6%
Jacoby Ellsbury 5.5%
J.T. Realmuto 5.3%
Jay Bruce 5.1%

Let's hit the multiple-appearance group first. Neil Walker is the only guy on all three lists. I think the surprising power he has shown this year has translated into pitchers avoiding him more than ever. His power may recede a bit, but the great walk rate should still be an asset in OBP leagues. His May and June walk rates are both in the double digits.

Hanley Ramirez, Justin Upton, and Josh Donaldson, and Aaron Hill are the other guys that are on more than one list. Upton was discussed at length in the K% improvers article. He is returning to his old self and the buy low window is closing fast.

Hanley still hasn't shown any of his old power, but he is cutting down on strikeouts and increasing walks and his June numbers show a 13.3% walk rate and a 10% (!) K%. That's right, he's striking out less than he is walking this month. I'm not sure why pitchers are letting him get away with that given his low power, but it's still a positive sign. I'm still a believer in his value.

Josh Donaldson is amazing. I don't know how he managed to increase his walk rate by that much two months in a row, but he is a top 4 hitter in baseball right now.

I was surprised to learn that Aaron Hill has actually been useful this year. His slash line is 0.265/0.352/0.413. That slugging isn't great, but he does have 7 homers and 4 steals to go with a 14.8% K% and 11.4% BB%. Deep leaguers that need a 3B and haven't caught on to what he is doing yet, should go grab him in leagues that count OBP.

Some slow-starting veterans also show up on at least one of these lists. This includes guys like Votto, who normally leads the league in walk rate and is now re-taking his throne (23% June BB%) after a poor start. I was never really worried about him and expect him to be his usual self the rest of the way. Jay Bruce, Mookie Betts, Evan Longoria, and Jayson Werth started slow but have really turned it on lately. These tables are just confirming what we already knew. They are all talented and have returned to their expected levels.

Jonathan Schoop is a surprise, only because he never walks. It only takes 3 or 4 walks for him to dramatically increase his walk rate. I don't think he has suddenly changed who he is. Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis both showed up on the K% improvers lists, so they are both trending up and should be good to go.

Feel free to poke around the list a bit to discover some other names I didn't get to. As always, Tschus!