If you had asked me before this post what it would take to lead a league in Walks, I would have said 100 easily. Maybe 125? When I saw the red 87 on the back of this Jhoulys Chacin card under the Walks column, I was quite surprised.
Turns out, I had a pretty good reason to be. That few amount of Walks hasn't led a league since the strike-shortened 1995 season when Ramon Martinez of the Dodgers led the National League with 82. Which incidentally, wasn't even in the top 10 of Major League leaders. Yep, in 1995 at least ten American League pitchers had mre Walks than Martinez's National League leading 82.
I only found one non-strike-shortened season where the league leader had fewer than Chacin's 87 Walks. In 1992, David Cone of the Mets had 82 Walks and led the National League. In 1981 (a strike season), Jack Morris led the American League with 78 Walks. No other American League leader has thrown fewer than Chacin's 87.
I think I knew this somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain but it still makes me do a doubletake. Nolan Ryan is not only the All-Time Strikeouts leader but also the All-Time Walks leader with 2,795. He led his league multiple times in Walks and twice crossed the two hundred Walk threshold.
I guess what I'm least surprised about is that Chacin pitches for the Rockies and led the league. I would think pitchers in Colorado have to do some extra special pitching to avoid giving up the long ball. And with all that painting of the corners, you're going to have quite a few that miss too. Thus its no surprise either that former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez was in the top 10 in Walks in each season he was with Colorado.
Or maybe I just made up that justification and there's correlation but no causation. But it makes sense to me...