An early look at walk rate changes
Walking and plate discipline have become a very important skill in late-2010s baseball. In the Three True Outcome Era that we are currently in, players are welcomed to — often even encouraged to — swing and miss at many pitches if it means they have the opportunity to hit a home run. The only caveat to this strategy is that those same players are expected to walk at extremely high rates in order to make up for any of the lost production from the strikeouts.
According to FanGraphs, a player’s walk rate does not become relatively stable until about 120 plate appearances in. Every single qualified hitter as of today has at least 120 plate appearances this season, so it’s the perfect time to start talking about walk rates.
For this research, I began with all 169 qualified hitters for this season and took out any players from either Top 10 list who had fewer than 100 plate appearances last season, in order to ensure that we are seeing something resembling a legitimate change in approach.
Without further ado, the ten biggest increases in individual walk rates from 2017 to 2018.
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