Discussion

Cubs having a big problem with walks

Looking for a reason why the Cubs have so struggled? They're issuing a ton of walks and drawing far too few.

Originally Published: August 16, 2006
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
The Cubs picked up three walks last night. That's not so bad. You draw three walks in every game and you'll finish the season with 486. Actually, that is so bad. A year ago, the Mets drew 486 walks and finished 11th in the league. But if you finish 11th, at least there are five teams worse.

The problem for the Cubs -- who did win, by the way -- is that their three walks came in 18 innings. Which is low for the Cubs ... but not absurdly low. See, the Cubs aren't going to finish 11th, or 12th, or any other number that's at least halfway respectable. The Cubs have drawn fewer walks than any other National League team this season. Far fewer. And we shouldn't be too surprised. In 2005, the Cubs drew fewer walks than any other National League team. In 2004, the Cubs drew fewer walks than 14 National League teams. Ditto in 2003.

Adding up the four years -- coincidentally or not, the four years Dusty Baker has been the man in the dugout -- and projecting this season's walks through the full season, we arrive at 1,803 walks for the Cubs, 2003-2006. That's the fewest in the league over that span, and there's more space between No. 16 (Cubs) and No. 14 (Marlins) than between No. 14 (Marlins) and No. 5 (Rockies).

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