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Big League Stew

Jeff Keppinger draws first walk of season in 141 plate appearances, forces in go-ahead run

Big League Stew

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(MLB.tv)

Jeff Keppinger of the Chicago White Sox had gone 0 for the 2013 season when it came to drawing a walk, until he finally took a pitch for ball four in his 141st plate appearance Thursday night. Keppinger's timing, if not his frequency, was terrific. His walk against Michael Kohn came with the bases loaded in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels and forced in the go-ahead run. The White Sox won 5-4.

The walk was the third in a row issued by Kohn, who threw 12 of his final 14 pitches out of the strike zone.

''It seemed like their guy just lost it there,'' Keppinger said.

Hey, it happens, not that Keppinger has taken advantage much. He was the last player in the majors having at least 30 plate appearances to draw a walk this season. He beat Jarrod Dyson of the Royals (42 plate appearances) by one day.

Historically speaking, Keppinger drawing a base on balls has not been comparable, in lack of frequency, to Juan Pierre hitting a home run. Keppinger has drawn 180 walks in 2,846 plate appearances during his career. It's not a lot of walks, but it's one every 15.8 trips, which is more often than Pierre's pauses of 450 trips per dinger. He walked 51 times in 2010. It's in him.

Drawing a walk should be easier to do for any major leaguer, simply by happenstance, than hitting a home run. Other than the Kansas City Royals, nobody walks less as a team than the White Sox, and it's one of the reasons they're 18-21 coming into Friday. So it's not all Keppinger's fault — there's some kind of groupthink going on with the White Sox, whose batting coach Jeff Manto has never expressed much appreciation for how drawing walks can help an offense. The team's manager didn't seem all that gung-ho about seeing Keppinger be so selective, either.

''I don't know if you're necessarily rooting for that, but it was at a good time for us,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said about the third walk. ''I just like the way the offense battles.''

Sure, Robin. Sometimes, a battle can be won by not swinging.

So we come here not to praise Keppinger (too much) for finally drawing a walk, but to say that there are other walks out there, waiting to be taken. Who knows? They might even lead to more runs being scored.

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