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Patience Is, In Fact, A Virtue

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We all know that Marco Scutaro worked hard this offseason to become the more patient, or "selective" if you will, hitter that Billy Beane and the A's front office covets.

From Susan Slusser's story:

Marco Scutaro, who dodged demotion a day earlier when Bobby Crosby went on the disabled list with a stress fracture of two ribs, started the rally by drawing his third walk in two days -- after walking only 16 times last year.

"Obviously, there was a lot of talk Marco would be sent down, but he's come out and kind of made a point," Byrnes said. "He's getting on base, he's making plays, he's been huge for us."

But is this becoming a bit more common with players on certain teams? It's very early in the season and an insignificant sample size, but two players who are known for hacking have become key base-on-balls cogs in the first series of 2005.

Scutaro is the A's new patient hitter. But there is also a new-found "patient" hitter playing for Billy Beane's protege Paul DePodesta in Los Angeles. Jose Valentin, who had a grand total of 43 walks in 125 games in 2004 and a career high of 66 walks way back in 1996, has already walked five times in the first three games. Valentin is a guy who averaged a BB once every 2.62 games prior to this season.

Do I really think that Jose Valentin will wind up with 270 walks or Scutaro with 162? No. But this tells me that a team's hitting philosophy can be taught to even the most stubborn free swinger (remember how much more patience Tejada seemed to have by the time he left? And now Chavez?). Will Scutaro and Valentin's new selectivity last or will they revert to their old hacking ways?

Only a little patience will give us the answer.