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Take a walk, lose some average

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Take a walk, lose some average

Postby bigh0rt » Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:12 pm

Great read here...
In the 1986 Baseball Abstract, Bill James postulated that when a player experienced a sudden spike in walk rate one year, it would often be followed by a substantial drop in batting average the following year. According to James, taking a base on balls is a “veteran player skill” because it involves an older ballplayer compensating for slower reflexes and bat speed. But, James reasoned, the increase in walks will result in a decrease in batting average because the pitchers will adjust and will begin to make the hitters hit good pitches.

...The Harrah Hypothesis worked for the players James named in his Abstract, but does it still apply to players today?

Todd Helton

...According to the Harrah Hypothesis, that’s unlikely. Helton’s walk rate leaped from 14.3 percent in 2006 to 17.2 percent last season, representing his largest increase since his first two years in the league. Furthermore, Helton fits the profile of a player like Harrah or Matthews in that he has posted a solid season in the midst of a decline, which makes him an ideal player to watch under this theory. Like Harrah, Helton has a strong knowledge of the strike zone. Perhaps most important, since he’s fallen into this trap before, it seems even more likely that he will do it again.

The Hardball Times Season Preview projects Helton will resume his decline in the coming season, hitting .303/.420/.465. That would be a decline of 17 points off his batting average. But since he’s already been claimed as a victim of the Harrah Hypothesis once, it wouldn’t be surprising if he falls below those rates. If this theory holds true, Helton could dip below .300 for the first time in his career.

Hardball Times | FULL STORY
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