You gotta walk to run

Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball was released in 2003. It was about how the Oakland A’s, a low budget team, managed to field some of the best teams in Baseball in the early 2000’s. The movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt was released in 2011.

The Oakland A’s targeted players who drew walks as they could be acquired cheaply in the free agent and trade markets. They believed that the more walks a team drew the more runs they would score. I have decided to do a high level test of this theory. I will analyze Major League Baseball teams from the 2015 season. The number of walks a team drew will be measured against the total number of runs scored and we will see if there is a correlation.

I obtained my data from Fangraphs and used Infogram to generate the images. I opted to split the data between American League and National League teams to keep the infograph from being too cluttered.

American League

Comparing total walks to total runs — AL

The green represents the total number of runs scored. The red represents total walks drawn. There is a clear positive correlation.

National League

Comparing total walks to total runs — NL

A positive correlation exists here as well. The more a team walks leads to more runs scored. Why is that?

The logic is simple. When a player draws a walk, he gets on base. When a player is on base. The more players that are on base will lead to a higher probability of that team scoring. A hitter can only drive in a run without baserunners if he hits a home run.

Walks = Baserunners = Runs. Easy.