Follow-Up Post: Albert Almora Probably Wont Significantly Increase His BB%

Follow-Up Post: Albert Almora Probably Wont Significantly Increase His BB%

Recently I told you all that there was nothing to fret over regarding Albert Almora's walk rate (and he's actually walked a few times since then!). I still stand by that post - I think he's going to have a very strong approach at the plate - but that doesn't mean he's going to walk at an above-average rate. In fact, given Almora's current professional walk rate, I'm starting to think I'll be surprised if he ever draws free passes at even a league-average rate.

To explain why, I'm gonna whip out the spreadsheet I used to explain how rare Javier Baez's K%-BB% splits have been.

In Almora's case, we'll look at the former top prospects who have walked and struck out as rarely as Almora has. Through 386 plate appearances between A and High-A baseball, Almora has taken 20 unintentional walks and struck out just 42 times (5.2% and 10.9%, respectively).  Obviously, that walk rate isn't where you want it; but that strikeout rate speaks to part of why he's thought of as such a great prospect. He's a smart hitter with strong contact abilities, and the miniscule K% is just further proof of that.

In the history of Baseball America's Top 100 prospect lists, there have been 69 prospects with a combined unintentional-BB% under 7% between A and High-A ball. Of these 69, 26 also had a combined K% under 13%. Yes, this combination of low-walk and low-strikeout rates is almost as rare as the low-walk, extreme-strikeout rate combo that Javier Baez produces.

The list of "comparables" for Almora is, unsurprisingly, filled with players who at times exhibited an almost preternatural ability to put the bat on the ball.

Almora Walk Rate

None of these comparisons are great, mostly because many of them had power that Almora will never replicate. That said, that these guys were able to keep their walk and strikeout rates as low in the majors as they have is very interesting. Of the players on the list who didn't outright bust upon arriving in the bigs, non saw an increase in their walk rates of more than a percentage point or two, and most only saw marginal increases in their K%.

Honestly, this is not a super sexy list of players with whom to compare Almora, and I can't do much to change that. But the point of this post isn't to say, "oh, Almora's going to look like a Starlin Castro-type hitter," but rather that worrying about his walk rate is a waste of energy. Prospects like him haven't ever done much to increase their walk rates, and expecting Almora to do so is probably unfair. And honestly, Almora has the defensive ability and makeup to be a very valuable player even if he ends up being a Starlin Castro-level producer at the plate.

And this isn't necessarily a bad thing. A cursory look at MLB leaderboards shows there is plenty of room in baseball for a high-average, middling-OBP, and middling-ISO player.

Almora's contact ability will prevent him from walking much, but he will be putting a bunch of balls in play - players like him can get the offense moving and/or drive in a lot of runs, depending on where they are in the lineup. Strikeouts are no longer viewed with the dread they used to be, but having guys who don't strike out much is still a nice way to balance a lineup.

@TommyECook

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Comments

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  • I don't disagree or agree with this post. I don't think Almora will walk 100. I could see 60 to 70 a year which is fine. Castro's approach was just hit everything and is now developing into hit ball you can drive. I don't see Almora having this hit everything approach when he gets to the show. Some times failure in the minor is a good thing, it helps players grow. I think his recent failure will help Almora in his development.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I absolutely agree about the failure bit, it's an excellent point. Not only is it extraordinarily rare for a player to go through the minors without experiencing some sort of failure, but the moments of failure expose problems in a guy's game. That's what development is - fixing problems and growing into a more complete player.

    I don't know if I ever see a 60 to 70 walk season out of Almora. You're right, he doesn't have the hit everything approach Castro did, but for me he doesn't look that patient at the plate. Dude can hit, knows it, and wants to do it often. I think his approach at the plate will be good (what's that stupid phrase, selective aggression?), but it will result more in balls being smacked around the park than walks. I'll happily be wrong about this though :)

  • In reply to Tommy Cook:

    There is a stipulation to the 60 to 70 walks the power that he has show flashes of has to come. That means 15 to 20 HR.

  • Almora is aggressive at the plate.. he is looking for a pitch to put his bat on. almost like castro

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    There is a difference between aggressive and selectively aggressive. Almora showed a selectively aggressive approach until this year. Castro was just a pure aggressive hitter but is showing signs of becoming more selectively aggressive now.

  • Almora's dad just finished a bout with fighting cancer. maybe that was weighing on his mind.

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