Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
I wasn't around for the 1970s but my trustworthy father assures me the story I'm about to tell is 100 percent true.
At this time, my uncle Louie, the youngest of my dad's six siblings, was a Little League baseball player in Springfield, Massachusetts. He played a mean center field but that's not what Louie was most known for. Louie's claim to fame was his unorthodox way of hitting.
What do I mean by this? I mean Louie never swung once. He would literally go entire seasons without taking the bat off his shoulder. And you know what the craziest part was? It worked! Louie's Zen-like patience made him nearly impossible to pitch to.
Okay, that's not the real reason. Louie, who grew up to be about 5-foot-4, had the tiniest strike zone you could imagine. Clayton Kershaw probably couldn't throw a strike to this guy. With all the walks he piled up, Louie was an on base machine.
The lesson here is that good things come to those who wait. Here are eight sluggers who have taken the Louie approach in 2014.
Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Seriously, how does Joey Bats keep making it onto my lists? I don't know but I do know this. Only one player in MLB has walked more times than Bautista this season, hence his AL-best .410 on base percentage. Unlike Uncle Louie, who struck fear into no one, opponents consciously pitch around Bautista. Indeed, 11 of his 79 walks this season have been intentional. Bautista's swing percentage (41.1) is 21st-lowest out of 151 qualified hitters.
Matt Carpenter, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Carpenter, it would appear, is not easily impressed. No hitter in the major leagues has swung at a lower percentage of pitches than Carpenter (33.8). This man has the plate discipline of a ninja warrior. Carpenter's power has been nonexistent (six homers in 445 at bats this season) but who cares when you've scored the sixth-most runs in the National League (74)? Keep doing you, Matt.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins
Dozier's just living the dream. Of course, that's assuming his dream is to be the most patient hitter ever. He's gone around on just 38.9 percent of pitches this season, the eighth-lowest rate in MLB. When he isn't blasting balls out of the park (he leads all big league second basemen with 20 HR), you can usually find Dozier casually strolling to first base (64 free passes, tied for sixth-most in MLB). You know what they say: a walk's as good as a hit.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Go ahead, ask Goldschmidt who his baseball idol is. He won't say Barry Bonds (thank God), or Alex Rodriguez (another close call) or even Ken Griffey Jr. Nope, the man Goldschmidt models his game after most is Louie Pantuosco. How else could you explain his 64 walks and sparkling .396 on base percentage this year? When it comes to rarely swinging, Goldschmidt's the king (38.9 swing percentage).
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals
LaRoche's encyclopedic knowledge of the strike zone is a big reason why the Nats are in first place right now. The power-hitting lefty has only chased 24.5 percent of pitches out of the zone this season (18th in MLB). With 59 walks and a .370 on base percentage over 424 plate appearances, it's no wonder LaRoche is owned in 98.9 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues.
Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Nobody sees more pitches than Napoli. That's no joke. He's led the league in pitches per plate appearance each of the last two seasons. The only first baseman in the American League with more walks is Carlos Santana, which is kind of remarkable considering Napoli spent time on the disabled list earlier this year with a sprained finger. As of this writing, the former catcher has pulled the trigger on 39.9 percent of the 1,783 pitches he's seen in 2014.
Carlos Santana, 1B, Cleveland Indians
Santana may only be hitting .229 but there's no question the man knows what he's looking for. He's the Silent Bob of hitters, only swinging when absolutely necessary. He leads all of MLB with 82 walks and has the fourth- lowest swing percentage at 37.6. Santana also has 20 HR and 56 RBI. Not bad for a guy who still carries catcher eligibility in most fantasy formats.
Ben Zobrist, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay's jack-of-all-trades takes his time when he's in the batter's box (36.7 swing percentage, second-lowest in MLB). Perhaps that why Zobrist's batting average is the highest it's been since 2009. Did I mention he has an 86.7 percent contact rate this season? That's much higher than Louie's.
In related news, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has swung at a league- high 59 percent of pitches this season. Call him the anti-Louie.