In praise of Vidro
Sincerely. I realized today while looking something else up that I hadn’t pointed out that Vidro leads the Mariners in walks. We’ve talked about why having a batting-average dependent offense can make for a streaky team, and I’ve been baffled why Vidro’s been able to keep up that high BABIP, but I don’t think we’ve pointed out what a huge deal this is. Sure, he’s not a base-stealing threat when he’s no, but he’s drawn 56 walks on a team that is by a ways the worst in the AL at taking a free base.
Vidro, all by himself, accounts for 17% – almost 1/5th – of the team’s walks. David Ortiz walks like crazy on the Red Sox, the AL walk-leading team (he has 97 of their 611) and doesn’t quite get to that proportion.
Fun side note: the Red Sox have five players who have draw more walks than Vidro.
Nick Swisher of the A’s has 94 of their 575, for 16% (16.3 to Vidro’s 16.5). Alex Rodriguez (82 of 540) doesn’t match it.
The M’s are mid-league offense, even adjusting for Safeco, their attack based almost entirely around batting average: they’re 4th in AVG, 6th in OBP (last in walks), 7th in SLG.
The team has only a few sources of any real power: Beltre, followed a ways behind by Ibanez, Johjima, Guillen, Betancourt. They’re not a power-hitting lineup.
Vidro is the team’s Beltre of walks. I know. But there it is. What’s all the more impressive about it is that he’s working in a team that actively encourages their players to hack early and often, and yet there he is… 56 walks. The confused and frightened and possibly post-cliff Sexson has 51, but the only other effective hitter in the lineup, Ibanez, has 43. Vidro’s the only person who’s really bringing plate discipline to the plate, and he’s been doing it despite a team offensive approach that makes it extremely difficult to do that.
That deserves some recognition, and applause. You have to wonder if he’d be even more effective if they weren’t trying to get him to swing at the first two pitches of every at-bat.