It’s always a problem,* and this year is no exception – the Cubs are last in all of baseball in walks taken.
It’s a problem that seems to transcend coaches and even personnel at the Major League level, so, it’s fair to ask: what’s the deal?
Well, it looks like the deal might be an organization-wide problem. Take a look at some frightening stats (as of August 8th) for the Chicago Cubs’ minor league affiliates:
- AAA Iowa ranks last out of 16 teams in the Pacific Coast League with 353 walks. The top team in the league (Tacoma) has 515.
- AA Tennessee ranks 8th out of 10 teams in the Southern League with 361 walks. The top team in the league (Jacksonville) has 464. The bottom team in the league (Mississippi) has 353.
- High A Daytona ranks 9th out of 12 teams in the Florida State League with 333 walks. The top team in the league (Bradenton) has 446. The bottom team in the league (Clearwater) has 285.
- A-ball Peoria ranks 15th out of 16 teams in the Midwest League with 297 walks. The top team (Lansing) has 431. The bottom team in the league (West Michigan) has 286. (Stats compiled by dfnowak at NSBB.)
It would be reasonable to conclude, based on these stats, that the Cubs’ organization does not place an emphasis on plate discipline and taking walks, something many of us have suspected for years.
It’s also possible that the Cubs, when drafting, do not focus on the kinds of players who come pre-packaged with plate discipline. Perhaps they believe this is a skill that hitters learn in professional ball? If so, that belief does not appear to be borne out in the numbers.
*Except for an aberrant 2008 season, in which the Cubs led the NL in walks (second in baseball), and – total coincidence, the Cubs might tell you – they scored the most runs in baseball.