(This post has nothing to do with Kansas City. I am just in awe of Cliff Lee right now.)
With apologies to Will Carroll, this post is basically a series of numbers with no story. But Cliff Lee's surgical control and inability to walk batters this season is stunning, and the numbers speak for themselves. Lee's K/BB rate of 10.3 during the regular season was the second best of all-time to Bret Saberhagen's 11.0 in 1994. Saberhagen threw 177 innings in strike-shortened '94; Lee threw 212 this year. Through 177 innings, Lee's K/BB was 13.1. Plus, zero of Saberhagen's walks were intentional, while two of Lee's were. Take those two out, and Lee's full regular season rate was 11.6. I'd say Lee's season was more impressive. Add on Lee's two incredible appearances so far this post-season, and his strikeout total raises to 206 and his walks stay stuck on 18, for a rate of 11.4 (12.9 without the two IBBs). Cliff Lee might be displaying the greatest control in the history of control right now.
Here is a breakdown of the stretches Lee has gone without a walk, plus a look at all 16 non-intentional walks. As you'll see, most batters needed some help from the umps to get a free pass from Lee.
April 30 - May 16: None of the first 90 batters Lee faced on the year walked.
May 16: Evan Longoria draws the first walk of the season against Lee. According to Pitch-f/x, two or three of the called balls could have been strikes:
May 16 - May 28: A stretch of 61 batters faced without a walk until...
May 28: Howie Kendrick draws a four-pitch walk. All four pitches were perfectly on the edge of the zone:
May 28: 12 batters faced without a walk before Juan Rivera draws what looks like a legitimate walk:
May 28 - June 2: 33 more batters without a walk before...
June 2: Nick Punto is given a gift by the umpire:
June 2 - June 29: 144 batters faced without a free pass!
June 29: Jorge Posada breaks the stretch with an eight-pitch walk - ball four looks like it caught the corner:
June 29 - July 4: 41 batters go by without a walk.
July 4 (last game with Mariners): Miguel Cabrera draws a walk on four straight strikes:
July 4 - August 1: ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY BATTERS WITHOUT A WALK. (There was one intentional BB in there.)
August 1: Alberto Callaspo:
August 1 - August 16: 75 batters without a non-intentional walk (one intentional).
August 16: Carlos Pena with a legit walk:
August 16 - 21: 58 batters, no walk.
August 21: Brian Roberts with a massive 10-pitch at-bat draws a pass:
August 21 - August 26: Only 12 batters go by before...
August 26: Jason Kubel draws one:
August 26 - August 31: 35 up without a walk.
September 12: Lee gives up three walks in a game against the Yankees. Derek Jeter leads off the game with this one:
Lee gets through the next 18 batters before Curtis Granderson takes a walk:
Only seven batters go by before Jeter takes his second of the game:
September 18: 19 batters go by before Chone Figgins draws a walk...with some charitable calls from the ump:
September 18 - September 23: 18 batters, no walks before the unthinkable: Back-to-back walks. Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki pulled it off:
September 23 - October 12: Lee hasn't walked a batter since...in 99 plate appearances and counting.
Make sure to enjoy the brilliance of Cliff Lee for the rest of the post-season.