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Omar Infante is making history

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He is really taking to heart the saying "if you don't hack, you must go back."

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Omar Infante might be an All-Star player this year, but it would be wholesomely undeserved. The fans voting for him must be aware of that, but alas...this is the system we have been given.

However, could we consider a guy an All-Star if he's making history in the months leading up to the All-Star Game? Certainly a player on the verge of making history would warrant reasoning to be included among the games current greats no? A guy who's halfway to the single season home run mark, or has 100 RBI by the break we would certainly put him in the All-Star game.

Omar Infante is making history right now guys. Unfortunately, it's not the good kind of history.

2015

Name PA BB% wRC+ WAR
Omar Infante 228 1.30% 45 -0.3
Salvador Perez 241 1.70% 107 1.3
Chris Owings 242 2.50% 51 -0.5
Jean Segura 227 2.60% 79 0.3
Ender Inciarte 267 3.00% 85 0.8
Alexei Ramirez 269 3.00% 45 -0.9
Wilmer Flores 248 3.20% 92 0.9
Dee Gordon 306 3.30% 121 3.1
Josh Harrison 274 3.60% 99 1
Juan Lagares 274 3.60% 85 0.5

Among 2015 qualified leaders, Infante is last overall in BB%, and not far behind is team mate Sal Perez. However despite Perez's abysmal walk rate, he's been a 7% better than league average hitter. Meanwhile Infante has been 55% worse than league average. It's not particularly close either as Infante has been 120 basis points behind the next non-Royals team member.

Now, we know Infante isn't known for his on base percentage or taking walks, but a career ~6% walk rate isn't necessarily abysmal (the league average walk rate the past few years has been ~8%) and Infante has had a few seasons with near or better than average league batting line despite his allergy to walks.

Omar this season though is taking a big step towards history and shooting for the all-time BB% record with a meteoric impact.

1920-2015

Season Name PA BB% K% wRC+ WAR
2015 Omar Infante 228 1.30% 15.40% 45 -0.3
1922 Shano Collins 504 1.40% 6.00% 64 -1.5
1949 Virgil Stallcup 589 1.50% 7.50% 55 -0.8
1997 Shawon Dunston 511 1.60% 14.70% 94 0.3
1966 Tito Fuentes 564 1.60% 10.10% 76 1.1
2015 Salvador Perez 241 1.70% 13.70% 107 1.3
2007 Ivan Rodriguez 515 1.70% 18.60% 82 1.5
1946 Don Kolloway 500 1.80% 5.80% 80 1.6
1950 Don Mueller 539 1.90% 4.80% 77 -0.1
2007 Tony Pena 536 1.90% 14.60% 63 1.3

It's not often you get to see true history unfold before your eyes, but here we are. Omar Infante is almost halfway there to having the worst walk rate in the history of modern baseball or at least since the live ball era began.

With each plate appearance that passes and each swing his bat makes contact with the ball, Infante inches his way closer to history. And hey look! Not far behind him is Sal Perez.

There is still hope for Perez too. Last year in the 1st half of the season he was managing a respectable enough 5.5% BB% before whatever it was that happened to him in the second half that cratered him, and his BB% went down to 1.1%. A similar second half de-surgence could put him neck and neck with the chase to the no-walk record title.

So maybe for Infante it's been a lack of opportunity? Obviously you need to get to ball three to get to ball four to walk, and maybe Infante just hasn't had many three ball counts as the other guys? We can suss that out easily of course since it's 2015.

Name PA BB% Swing% Contact% SwStr%
Omar Infante 228 1.30% 48.80% 79.60% 9.80%
Salvador Perez 241 1.70% 54.50% 82.80% 9.40%
Chris Owings 242 2.50% 57.50% 75.60% 14.00%
Jean Segura 227 2.60% 53.20% 85.80% 7.40%
Ender Inciarte 267 3.00% 47.30% 89.60% 5.00%

Those are our bottom five walk guys. It's interesting that the #1 and #5 both have close Swing%. Infante doesn't swing as often as Perez, Owings, or Segura, but the guy who he does swing nearly as much as is walking more than twice as much as him. It's also not like Infante has been a high contact hitter (like Inciarte/Segura) who doesn't get into deep counts necessarily because when he swings he hits the ball. Infante isn't a low contact hitter or high swinging guy as he's basically in the middle third of all qualified hitters in both those stats (from eyeballing things).

What about three ball counts?

Name BB% 3-Ball Counts
Omar Infante 1.30% 24
Salvador Perez 1.70% 36
Chris Owings 2.50% 28
Jean Segura 2.60% 59
Ender Inciarte 3.00% 31

So Infante has the lowest amount of three ball counts, and obviously isn't walking when he gets them. Perez seems a bit scarier though as he has more attempts than Inciarte but almost half the walk rate.

How about 3-0 counts?

Name BB% 3-0 Counts
Omar Infante 1.30% 5
Salvador Perez 1.70% 7
Chris Owings 2.50% 3
Jean Segura 2.60% 10
Ender Inciarte 3.00% 5

Infante is a little closer to the pack when it comes to 3-0 opportunities. How about 3-0 walks?

Name BB% 3-0 Walks
Omar Infante 1.30% 2
Salvador Perez 1.70% 0
Chris Owings 2.50% 0
Jean Segura 2.60% 0
Ender Inciarte 3.00% 3

Note that this doesn't include intentional walks, but Infante is doing good here (though this may be more on the pitcher than the hitter).

Let's look at how pitchers are pitching to Infante with 3 balls.

So Infante isn't doing himself any favors when he's swinging on 3 ball counts necessarily. The two farthest from the center dots are clear walks, and Infante took them, but most the pitches outside the zone he's seen this year have been poor contact...as a lot of outside pitches put in play are.

Infante's hot streak has been nice to talk about and see. He's had a 145 wRC+ since June 15th, though the latter half of the eight-game hit streak has been all singles and 1-4 games. It still however doesn't put much of a bump in the crater that is Infante's overall line as he's still at a 45 wRC+ on the year.

At the end of the season, which will be higher for Infante: the number of walks he takes, or home runs and triples combined?