you don't get to high-five Jeff Datz by walking
Oftentimes, when someone is closing in on something that's historically relevant or unusual, people will say that the player is set to enter the history books, or some such thing. Miguel Olivo is not set to enter the history books, because there are no history books that talk about what we're going to talk about. What we're going to talk about would probably never find itself in a book, unless someone were to publish a book of Lookout Landing blog posts. But Miguel Olivo is closing in on something exceptional.
On September 18, Olivo drew three walks, increasing his season total by 75 percent. He also hit a home run, increasing his season total by ten percent. As things stand now, Olivo has 11 home runs and seven walks. It's rare for a player to finish a season with more home runs than walks; it's rarer still for a player to do that after already having done that before.
We review a portion of Miguel Olivo's major-league career:
2005: 9 homers, 8 walks
2006: 16 homers, 9 walks
2007: 16 homers, 14 walks
2008: 12 homers, 7 walks
2009: 23 homers, 19 walks
For five seasons in a row, Olivo finished with more home runs than walks drawn. At present, 2012 stands to be Olivo's sixth such season in his career. Throughout baseball history, only three players have managed six seasons in which they finished with more home runs than walks, given a minimum of five home runs: Juan Gonzalez, Shawon Dunston, and Tony Armas. Ivan Rodriguez had five. Six players had four. Only 47 players have had at least two. If Olivo can keep from drawing too many walks over the Mariners' final dozen games, he'll become the fourth member of a pretty exclusive and aggressive group. They're so aggressive that they've been mailing Olivo the group newsletter for a month and a half, urging him to apply. Also all of the headlines and sentences within the newsletter end with exclamation points. The distribution is limited and the newsletter is terrible.
So the Mariners have 12 games left, and Olivo won't play in all of them. He needs to keep from having four more walks drawn than home runs hit. Before September 18, he had drawn exactly four walks all season. Asked to comment on the odds that Olivo blows this by walking too much, Mike Eruzione said "I don't know, that would seem to take a miracle," and then he said "get it?" to which the person asking the original question replied "of course I get it," adding "I'm not a complete idiot."
The last Mariner to pull this off was Jose Lopez in 2009, when he homered 25 times and walked 24 times. Did you know that Jose Lopez plays for the White Sox now? He played for them just a few days ago. Lopez homered 25 times in 2009, and he has homered 22 times since 2009. He is currently 28 years old.