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Piping hot from the Department of Small Sample Size, Blue Jays shortstop Marco Scutaro, of all people, has a .927 OPS one month into the season.

Many people have noticed his eye-popping 5 home runs in a single month, but considering that his previous career high for an entire season is a mere 9 homers, the power surge is not very likely to continue.

Marco ScutaroBut what is more interesting is that one month in, Scutaro already has 22 walks, good for second best in the Major Leagues, behind only Jason Bay’s 23.

Now walks are usually considered something that is pretty much under a batter’s control – far more than batting average or even homers – and thus less susceptable to the whims of sample size.

What makes Scutaro’s walk total so amazing is that he was never all that much of a walker before – his highest single season total was 57, set last year, and his career 162-game average is a mere 52.

But at present, the 33-year-old Scutaro is on pace to walk 149 times this year, which is the kind of walk rate that would put a man up there with the all time greats.

Look, nobody expects Scutaro to keep putting up Pujols-like numbers all year.  But if he really has turned a corner with his pitch selection or is seeing the ball better or something, than that actually might explain some of the increased home runs, and it also means that even as Scutaro regresses back to the mean, he probably won’t regress all the way.

Because walks are more skill than luck, and Scutaro may have developed a new skill.

And considering that he plays shortstop, he doesn’t even have to keep putting up Pujols numbers to be an extremely valuable player, which makes it look like the Blue Jays got a steal in a player they essentially got from the Oakland A’s for a box of crackerjacks.

5 Responses to “Marco Scutaro, emerging superstar?”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, can you think of a player who, at Scutaro’s age and years in the league, have had such big leaps in unintentional walks all of a sudden? It’s highly unusual, if not entirely unprecedented, if what you’re saying turns out to be true.

    Players can improve walk rate earlier in their careers. And players can also lose that ability but get it back. But I can’t think of one case where a 33 year old has such a huge jump in walk rate out of nowhere. Barry Larkin comes close, I suppose, but he had been steadily improving.

    So I’m still calling small sample size on this. I could be wrong, obviously.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, I’m baffled. It could be related to lineup or something, I haven’t investigated. Maybe being a fulltime starter helped him? I don’t know, I want to call small sample size too, but it’s really weird and its an awfully high number of walks over a whole month…

  3. Paul Moro says:

    Well Toronto is currently second in team walks, so while Scutaro still stands out among them, the entire team has been doing pretty well. So it’s conceivable that you can blame the opposing pitcher as much as you can credit the Jays for all these walks.

  4. Incredible analysis of what’s going on with this guy. I’d been wondering a lot about him myself.

  5. He’s widened his batting stance which he used to use when he had 2 strikes, now he does it all the time.

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