Adam Dunn seems a lock to win the American League’s Comeback Player of the Year Award, because after having a historically awful 2011 season, he’s bounced back to hit 41 home runs this year (all stats in this article are through play on Thursday, September 28th), only two shy of the MLB lead. He’s also gotten attention for leading the league in walks and strikeouts, neither of which is a big surprise, given that he’s done each of those things before, and is one of the greatest “three true outcomes” players in baseball history.
The thing is, he’s also only batting .208, so even with a Major League best 103 walks, his on-base percentage is just .338, not a terrible figure, but not a good one either. I got to wondering, what’s the worst OBP a player has ever had for a season in which he led the league in walks???
The American League has been around since 1901. the National League goes back all the way to 1876. Here are the “top” twenty OBPs in either league’s history:
Yep, Adam Dunn has the very worst OBP ever, among all players to lead either league in walks. Incredibly, the second worst OBP is from this year too, from Dan Uggla. Who knew we were witnessing double-history, every time these guys manage to go 0 for 4 with one BB?!
It’s also notable that most of the seasons on the list come from a long time ago. Including Dunn and Uggla, only seven of the twenty are from the last 75 years and none of the other eighteen seasons are from the last twenty years. I guess guys just don’t walk a ton but hit not a lick like they used to.
There are still six days left in the season, but Dunn has a 12 walk lead over Ben Zobrist for the American League lead, so he’s secure there. Uggla is only 3 walks ahead of Joey Votto, so there’s still a chance he could drop off of the list entirely. The other possibility is that one or both of them will raise their OBP enough over the season’s final days to drop down the list.
If not? Then Adam Dunn and Dan Uggla will have performed quite the statistical feat.