Chicks may dig the long ball, but I dig the walk. Home runs are great, too, but for some reason walks really stir my pot. It may be because they were the long-ignored sibling to the more savory base hit in the on-base percentage stew. It may also be that command of the strike zone is perhaps the most useful thing a batter can have at his disposal, and walks are often the residue of a batter's ability to own that invisible swath of three-dimensional space.
Whatever the reason, at season's end I'm always eager to see who walked the most and, perhaps more importantly — and more predictively — who walked most often relative to his opportunities. Here are the Mets' raw walk leaders for 2012:
It can't surprise many to see Wright atop this list. He's patient, but moreover he was the Mets' best hitter in nearly every category this season. Total walks don't tell us the whole story, because some players have more opportunities than others, so we can account for that by ranking everyone by walk rate, which is simply walks divided by plate appearances. For the purpose of meaningfulness, I've only included players with at least 100 trips to the plate in 2012:
When enumerated this way, "Moneyball" Mike Baxter sneaks onto the list, having walked nearly 12% of the time this season. Given his salary (league minimum) and the Mets' other outfield options (meh), Baxter seems a sure bet to be back in the fold for 2013. Andres Torres's spot here gives you a sense that he could be a pretty nice all-around player if he can get his batting average up a bit from the woeful .230 mark he finished 2012 with.
Walk rate is good, but I want more. I've long puzzled over the odd lumping together of intentional walks with unintentional ones. In the simplest sense, sure, they're both walks, but they really represent different attributes of the hitter. Unintentional walks are predominantly a reflection of plate discipline, while intentional walks typically reflect the comparative weakness of the subsequent hitter to the hitter being passed over. You can separate these yourself, and so that's what I've done. Here are the Mets' unintentional walk rate leaders for 2012:
Wright, who led the team in total walks and overall walk rate, drops to fifth on the club when we eliminate intentional passes, while Torres, Lucas Duda, and Baxter were truly the most patient Mets hitters.