By JOHN ROMANO
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2001
When the weekend began, Sammy Sosa was No. 3 in the National League in an all-important offensive category.
It was not RBI (he was sixth) and it was not home runs (he was seventh). Sosa, a notable free swinger from the time he hit the majors, was third in the league in walks. It is a remarkable transformation that has gone largely unnoticed the past half-dozen seasons.
In 1996, the Cubs rightfielder actually had more home runs (40) than walks (34) for the season. He averaged a walk every 15.6 plate appearances that year. Since then, however, Sosa's walks per plate appearance has improved every season. He now is three times more likely to draw a walk than he was in 1996. The difference shows in his overall production. Sosa's OPS (which is slugging percentage plus on-base percentage) has also been on a steady incline. His OPS the past two years is actually higher than 1998 when he hit 66 home runs.
(Year, walks per PA, OPS)
- Compiled by John Romano.