Maybe it’s the reactionary, instantaneous nature of modern fandom, but if you asked me, I’d tell you that the Chicago Cubs have been the worst team at taking walks for the past 20 years.

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.

  • Ron Swanson

    Interesting. This is how you end up with young players like Darwin Barney that have a batting average of .293 but an on base percentage of .327. Without power (or even with power) that does not cut it.

  • Matt

    All you need to do is read “Moneyball” to see how important walks are to an organization. Some may not like it as it is not old school baseball thinking, but the numbers don’t lie.

  • CubFan Paul

    ..bad for the cubs, good my drinking game!

    • hardtop

      …if the point of your drinking game is to stay sober… in which case should it still be called a drinking game? or even a game?

      i think you should rephrase: “bad for my drinking game but good for my liver”

      • CubFan Paul

        its not my fault they suck at getting on base. my thinking at the begining of the season was: Jaramillo would have a positive offensive influence on the players who were here last year with him ..apparently not when you look at our OBP stats

        maybe Jaramillo should lose his “Guru” nickname, because i think i’ve only taken 1 shot the last 2 days

  • hcs

    Wait, I thought walks just clogged up the basepaths…

    • Chris

      Exactly. Ya know what they say, “strike outs don’t slump, dude.” err….

      • Ol’CharlieBrown

        Yea, or like Quade said… “That’s one thing about a strikeout. You can’t hit into a double play when you strike out,” Quade said.

  • bazfan1234

    Agree Brett, walks have always been a problem for this free swinging club. Bring in Rudy J. who is Mr. Swing-at-first-pitch and it just compounds the problem. It would also be interesting to see the squeeze attempts and success rate of the Cubs compared to other MLB teams.

  • Chris

    Fewer walks = less runners stranded in scoring position = win/win losing situation. /sarcasm font.

  • Jim

    *Searches calendar for August Sunglasses face*

    • Brett

      That is the stupidest auto-correct I’ve ever seen. For shame, WordPress. For shame.

  • TSB

    Starlin Castro has an OBP of .338, a mere 11 points better than Barney. Why not get rid of him too, for some one like Ryan (the a**hole) Theriot, with a life time OBP of .344? Come on, it’s his first year in the majors, let see what he’s got when he matures.

    • Ron Swanson

      I assume you were intending to reply to me about Darwin Barney. First off, now way am I advocating bringing back Theriot if for no reason other than Barney is superior defensively and can run the bases. Unfortunately Barney is so far, very similar offensively. Though as you point out, potentially still developing although he never walked much in the minors either.

      Castro could also stand to improve his OBP but the primary difference is he is slugging .440 vs. Barney’s .365 and appears to have a much higher power upside going forward.

    • Brett

      Do I really have to? Ok…

      Castro is more than four(!!!) years younger than Barney. Castro is a scout’s wet dream. Barney has never impressed scouts. Castro destroyed the minors as a teenager. Barney was below average in the minors – repeatedly – well into his 20s. Castro is slugging 75 points(!!!) higher than Barney.

      Barney turns 26 in a couple months, and nothing in his history suggests he’s going to be better than he is right now. Some guys “figure it out” for the first time in their late 20s at the Major League level, but those instances are EXTREMELY rare, and tend to be guys about whom scouts drooled for years.

      Why does every keep making me take a shit on a guy I really like?

      • Ol’CharlieBrown

        lmfao @ “Why does every keep making me take a shit on a guy I really like?”

        I feel the same way. I like Barney and I don’t like seeing people bashing on him, but you really can’t argue with the facts that you have presented, Brett. Sadly, Barney may have reached his ceiling while Castro’s ceiling is many floors higher. I like the guy, but numbers don’t lie.

      • TSB

        There seems to be a train of thought that goes this way:
        Jose Reyes (for example) is an excellent second baseman
        Therefore, any second baseman whose stats are below Jose Reyes is no good.
        Therefore, get rid of them to get Jose Reyes.
        It is rare that any team has a all-star or near all star at every position. With the exception of the Red Sox of the 70’s, or the Yankees every year they have the check book out, it doesn’t happen. A team always has a player or two that is a little above average, average, or below average. The Cubs could do a lot worse than having Barney at second; insteading of worrying that Barney is not in the top five, worry about the pitching staff, and the lack of power in the outfield, that’s where the problems are.

        • Brett

          I’m not worried about Barney not being in the top five.

          I’m worried about Barney being in the bottom two.

          And, for the record, I do not, and have never (yet), supported a Jose Reyes signing. But, the 2008 Cubs had, I believe, nine All-Stars, and led the league in just about everything. Having good players helps.

      • Deez

        Because you my friend are a realist!
        This is what we like in you!
        “When keepin’ it REAL goes terribly wrong.”

  • CCunt

    Boers and Bernstein just plagiarized your piece on air without giving you credit!

    • Brett

      Seriously? Which piece, and can you give some context so that I can find it online (if they archive their shows)?

    • JulioZuleta

      You think those two clowns would put in any work on their own. They’re whole act is just being the complete opposite of ESPN. Don’t get me wrong, ESPN is not perfect, but Waddle and Silvy are great, and CJH are ooookkk. Cannot stand Boers and Bernstein.

      • CCunt

        I don’t mind them because I tune out most of the Cubs bashing and just listen in for the Bears discussion and Zach Zaidman updates, but CJH? Seriously? Those guys are complete ass clowns. I can’t listen to that garbage at all. I do like Waddle and Silvy though.

        • JulioZuleta

          If Jeff Dickerson ever gets a show, which I think is pretty possible down the road, I want Zaidman to come over to ESPN, hes the only salvageable part off that wreckage of radio airspace….ESPN, however, employs the biggest piece of garbage in town, Jay Hood. and please, no one say I’m racist, since he is the only regular black contributor to ESPN. I am the dark skinner JulioZuleta as you can see

          • JulioZuleta


  • CCunt

    This piece, saying the Cubs under Hendry have an organizational philosophy that doesn’t place any importance on drawing walks. Then they went on to cite where the Cubs stood in the team rankings for walks at every level.

    • Brett

      That’s pretty lame if true. I’ll have to see if I can find it. I almost feel worse that they didn’t recognize the NSBB poster who actually compiled the stats (you’ll note that I always cite my sources…). Thanks for pointing it out, CC.

      High road: I’m just glad they’re readers. Glad you enjoy the stuff, guys. For future reference, this site is called Bleacher Nation, and my name is Brett Taylor.

      • CCunt

        Ooops, didn’t notice the reference at the bottom, so I guess they could have been plagiarizing him, but all the same.

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    This one really opened my eyes that it’s not just the Cubs players who are not taking walks. It also made me realize that although Jaramillo may not be helping this situation, he certainly isn’t the root of it. I had no idea it was from the bottom all the way to the top. Wanted to add these stats as well just to drive the point home becuase it’s not only our hitting, but our pitching that has the same issue with walks.

    Chicago Cubs rank last out of 30 teams in the MLB with 288 walks. The top team, Yankees, have 454.

    Chicago Cubs rank last out of 30 teams in the MLB with 442 walks. The top team, Phillies, have 293.

    Ouch, from head to toe.

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      Chicago Cubs rank last out of 30 teams in the MLB with 442 walks ALLOWED. The top team, Phillies, have 293.