A reader pointed this out in my chat Tuesday: Atlanta Braves utility guy Pedro Ciriaco has yet to draw a walk this season. In 123 plate appearances. How did I not know this? He has a chance at the single-season record for a non-pitcher: The immortal Craig Robinson had 148 walk-less plate appearances for the 1973 Phillies.
But it's even better than that: Ciriaco didn't draw a walk last year in 49 plate appearances. The last walk he drew was in 2013. He has gone 191 consecutive plate appearances in the majors without one. That's not the major league record. Mariano Duncan began 1995 with 218 plate appearances without a walk and ended 1994 with 105 walk-less PAs, so he had 323. That might be the record, but I'm not sure; apparently, nobody really keeps track of this. By the way, Duncan was an All-Star in 1994. Go figure.
The last time Ciriaco drew a walk was when he was with the Padres in 2013. How do you walk Ciriaco? I went to the video. Allen Webster of the Red Sox walked him on four straight fastballs. Webster didn't really come close to the strike zone, so even the free-swinging Ciriaco didn't swing.
As you would guess, Ciriaco doesn't walk because he chases a lot of bad pitches. He's like a dog and a big pile of beef jerky; no self-control. Among players with 50 plate appearances, he has the second-highest chase rate in the majors at 49 percent. So he swings at almost half the pitches he sees that aren't even strikes. The No. 1 guy is Chris Heston, and he's a pitcher.
Here's the top-five list for most PAs in a season without a walk since 1901, courtesy of the Baseball-Reference Play Index:
1. Ed Walsh, 1907 White Sox: 156
2. Cy Young, 1904 Red Sox: 149
3. Craig Robinson, 1973 Phillies: 148
4. Eddie Plank, 1903 A's: 138
5. Bill James, 1914 Braves: 135
Walsh, Young, Plank and James were all pitchers (the first three, in fact, are Hall of Famers), so Robinson's season was pretty special. The only other position players in the top 10 are Alejandro Sanchez of the 1985 Tigers (133) and Ernie Bowman of the 1963 Giants (131).
As for Robinson, the Braves actually traded for him and made him their starting shortstop in 1974. He hit .230 in 452 at-bats with no home runs, four doubles and six triples. Yes, 10 extra-base hits all season. But he did draw 30 walks. If you get the idea that the 1970s was a bad era for middle infielders, you would be correct. Some day I'll do a big post on all the awful seasons from 1970s shortstops and second basemen. Definitely a dark era in major league history.
So here's rooting for Ciriaco. He has been playing a little more recently, with three starts since Aug. 21, so maybe he can catch Robinson. Keep swinging, Pedro.