There is a hidden battle going on for the Royals this year. Way more interesting than the positional battles you heard about this spring. It's a battle of futility in a way. The Royals are the only team in the American League with two regular players that have not walked yet.
Alcides Escobar has not walked this year and Omar Infante hasn't either. This isn't necessarily a surprise. Both Infante and Escobar were allergic to walks in 2015. Also it's the first week-ish of the season too. Stats are still stabilizing and in theory players are still getting into the swing of things. However as I said a few sentences ago, this isn't new territory for the Royals two middle infielders.
Here's every walk Infante had last year:
Infante didn't draw his first walk until May 1st where he actually walked twice (what ended up being 22% of his walks in one day). April and June were lonely months. Last year there were only two players with zero walks in April; Danny Santana and Infante. 52 players walked as many times in April alone than Infante did in the entire 2015 season. Bryce Harper had more walks in a week in April than Infante did all season.
Infante also wasn't alone in June either. Dee Gordon didn't draw a single June walk too. However Gordon was twice as better of a hitter than Infante was that month.
Escobar's calendar looks a little better:
If you can believe it, Escobar walked in three consecutive days in July and on back-to-back days in August. However May and September were lonely months too. And just to be all encompassing, Escobar didn't draw a walk in the postseason (Infante didn't play).
What's the closest these two guys have gotten to walking this year? Here is the pitch graph of every three ball count so far:
Hey look! Infante may have actually got screwed a bit on a call and he probably should have a walk this year already. Instead the ump called that a strike, however Infante would single in the at bat so he found his way to first anyways.
Escobar's looks pretty much the same except he swung at ball four and fouled it off. That foul actually happened Tuesday night at the Astros, where Escobar would line out to centerfielder Carlos Gomez to end the at-bat.]
So I ask you a simple poll below, who is going to walk first this year? The likely answer is Alcides Escobar given he walked more last year and didn't go the first month of the season without one. However Escobar swings at a lot more pitches and has grown more aggressive with each season.
Escobar is among the top 10 in swing% this year, ranking alongside these guys.
Yeah, notice anything different about his peers? They also strikeout basically twice as much and hit for a lot more power. As you can imagine, guys who swing a lot usually hit for average or better power (given that they are incentivized to swing and try to make contact while also being more aggressive hitters). However we can probably assume Escobar is going to continue his free swinging ways.
This morning, 21 ballplayers have no walks in >20 PAs. Seven players dropped off yesterday, and two were added. pic.twitter.com/x9l0ucltT8— Mike Bates (@MikeBatesSBN) April 14, 2016
So I ask you again...who walks first?
And you know what will happen is that both of them will walk in tonight's game...