Dude. Did you catch that? I said, "5%".
Entering the 2012 season, the possibility of control-correction was looking grim for the Cub's oft-hyped 5th-round draft-pick after 169 career IP of the pure, lavish, indulgent wildness. But here we are, already 43 IP into 2012, and this new-found control has been sustained. If Samardzija is able to hold to that 5% cutback for an entire season (say, at least 150 IP), that would be an awesome and rare feat.
To provide some historical context to Samardzija's 2012, I queried all pitchers who lowered their walk rate by at least 5% for an entire season (150 IP) from their career rate (also with at least 150 IP).
Best BB% IMPROVERS, LIVE-BALL ERA
|namefirst||namelast||IP Before||BB% Before||year||age||IP||BB%||KmBB||ciBB%|
The Doc jumps out at me, immediately, as the most recent example. Every now and then we are reminded of the fact that Roy Halladay, the pitcher of the decade, was once mortal. Not only was he mortal, but he was a mortal being who was awful at pitching. In 2003 he had dropped his walk rate to a puny 2.9%, a full 5.43% below his career rate at the time. However, the real improvement for Doc had begun a season prior to that, when he had lowered his free passes to just 6.2%. So, while utterly remarkable, I would suggest Samardzija's improvement would be the quickest, at least, in recent memory.
Randy Johnson, on the other hand, simultaneously improved his walk rate 5% off his career rate and off his prior season's rate. In 1993 Johnson dropped his free passes to a respectable 9.5% from a Kenny Powersian 15.6% in 1992, famously after a conversation with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Only 7 of our group of 14 pitchers have ever done this:
QUICKEST BB% IMPROVERS, LIVE-BALL ERA
|namefirst||namelast||IP_Career||BB% Career||Y1||Y1 IP||Y1 BB%||Y2||Y2 age||Y2 IP||Y2 BB%||ciBB% Career- Y2||ciBB% Y1-Y2|
Could Jeff Samardzija be the 8th?