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Bradke Hangs 'Em Up

The press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, 4 pm CT.  I'm not big on press conferences, but hopefully I'll be able to catch this one.  (I'm not sure if it's going to be televised--anyone with this info is encouraged to share.)

Many will tell you that Brad Radke's contributions to the Twins went beyond statistics.  That's true, and I won't say that about many players.  But his contributions include things that we can quantify.

What I'll remember Radke for, strictly from a performance-analysis standpoint, is his pinpoint control as reflected in his ultra-low walk totals.

Radke faced 10,244 batters over the course of his career, from 1995 to 2006.  Of those 10,244 batters, he issued a mere 445 walks.  Only 4.3% of all batters facing Radke walked.  That sounds good, but how can we put it in context?

From 1995 to 2006, there were 1,385 times that a pitcher threw 120 or more innings in a season.  Those performances range from a low of 1.2% (Carlos Silva, 2005) to a high of 16.3% (Victor Zambrano, 2004.)  We can represent performances in between with a histogram:

From this graph, we see right away that most pitchers fall in the 7% to 9% range of walk rates.  So Radke's walk rate was about half the average walk rate for a pitcher in a given season.  But even more than that, there are hardly any pitchers who've had even one season at better than a 4.3% walk rate in any given season.  If this was an SAT exam, we'd say that Radke was in the 95h percentile.  And this isn't just one good season we're talking about--this is Radke's career rate.  To extend the SAT analogy--he didn't just score 95th percentile once.  He took the test over and over again--12 times--and his average performance was in the 95th percentile.

In terms of overall run prevention, there's not anything historically unusual about Brad Radke.  But in terms of throwing the ball in the strike zone and making the hitter earn his way on base?  Radke was something special.