Walks are one of the main differences between Adam Dunn and Brad Eldred. They both strike out a lot. Dunn strikes out about 25% of the time and Eldred fans a bit more than that. The strikeouts, by themselves, are not that bad. The walks are the difference. Dunn will draw one walk for every two strikeouts, while Eldred is more of a one for every three strikeouts guy.
Walks, by themselves, are not that great. They are like infield singles achieved at the end of a long at-bat that may have been tiring for the pitcher.
Eldred's strikeout-to-walk ratio does not inspire confidence, but if he can learn to see a few more pitches and draw a few more walks, that could improve quickly. A man with his power would draw more intentional walks and face more nervous pitchers if he was a bit less of a sucker for the punch-out. For every additional walk he earns, the pitchers will give him a second for free. That's my theory. For this reason, it would be a lot easier for Eldred to improve his OBP that it would, say, for Jack Wilson to do the same. It's not such a wide gap, I think, between the man with this kind of power who really helps a team and the man with this kind of power who is not much of an asset.
So I have my eye on his walk numbers and, when I'm watching the game, I have my eye on his eye. This spring he has struck out a lot, even for him, which somewhat washes away the slight uptick in walks. The hopeful view thinks the strikeouts will come down and the walks will stick, but it's hard to be hopeful on this kind of sample size and this quality of sample consistency. Exhibition games are not the real thing or even close.
That said, he walked today and did not strike out. And, oh yeah, he hit a big home run.
Way to go, big guy.