FanPost

Intentional Walk Talk

Baseball is a proud man's game, respect the game, respect the umpires, respect the opponent.

Disrespect is not tolerated - a single act of disrespect (like spiking the baseball) can get you tossed from the game, a batter taking one for the team or igniting a bench-clearing brawl.

An act of disrespect that is often overlooked is the intentional walk - the IW. In a tight situation, a manager employs strategy to intentionally walk a strong hitter in order to face a weak hitter - D-I-S-R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

You don't want to be that guy - getting to the on-deck circle looking up to see the other manager putting up four fingers. Does the IW strategy work? Or does the challenge to a player's manhood results in payback with the bat?

The tables below detail the IW by looking at how the next batter (that guy) did in three parts: games using DH, games not using DH/non-pitcher and games not using DH/pitcher.

Several interesting notes:

  • National League games clearly uses this strategy more often than American League games, and in more situations than getting to a pitcher.
  • When not going after a pitcher, the use increases as the game progresses.
  • The surprise in the data is how often the IW was used in the first inning - for names like Bonds, Guerrero, Howard, Pujols, Fielder, Dunn, etc.
  • Over the past 12 years, there were 15,627 IWs for an average of 0.536 per game.

Data: Years 2000-2011 (12 years, roughly 29,160 games)

Table 1: Games with DH

Inning

PA

AB

H

Avg

K%

All
5700
5132
1276
.249
19.6

1

140

126

28

.222

19.0

2

92

83

23

.277

9.6

3

339

305

79

.259

15.4

4

270

245

63

.257

15.1

5

584

534

140

.262

16.7

6

717

648

169

.261

19.9

7

1010

913

212

.232

23.0

8

1111

1012

254

.251

19.4

9

1437

1266

308

.243

21.2

Table 2: Games without DH, non-pitchers

Inning

PA

AB

H

Avg

K%

All
9006
8141
1948
.239
22.2

1

377

343

97

.283

19.8

2

437

402

80

.199

29.1

3

664

609

132

.217

20.7

4

736

699

143

.205

24.2

5

988

907

204

.225

19.3

6

1154

1050

282

.269

21.0

7

1326

1180

285

.242

22.4

8

1431

1296

313

.242

22.9

9

1893

1655

412

.249

22.5

Table 3: Games without DH, pitchers

Inning

PA

AB

H

Avg

K%

All
921
892
91
.102
40.6

1

35

33

4

.121

42.4

2

226

220

20

.091

45.0

3

83

77

10

.130

37.7

4

237

233

22

.094

39.9

5

123

121

17

.140

41.3

6

111

108

12

.111

35.2

7

43

41

4

.098

24.4

8

21

19

1

.053

52.6

9

42

40

1

.025

47.5

Conclusion: For pitchers due up next, it appears to be an excellent strategy, with a .102 batting average and 40% strikeout rate.

When it comes to non-pitchers, the data suggests that it works slightly better in National League games, but in a case-by-case basis, a .239/.249 batting average with a 20% strikeout rate would be tempting for a manager to use this strategy.

While overall averages are interesting, let's look at how well the co-hosts of MLB Network's Intentional Talk program did in their careers, Kevin Millar and Chris Rose.

Challenge to Kevin Millar's Manhood

PA

AB

H

Avg

K%

After IW

57

46

14

.304

23.9

Career

5382

4688

1284

.274

17.9%

Details of Millar's plate appearances:

  • 20 outs, 11 strikeouts, 1 reach on error
  • 11 singles, 2 doubles, 1 homer, total hits 14
  • 1 HBP, 3 IWs, 7 W

Challenge to Chris Rose's Manhood

DNP

Conclusion: Clearly 1-5 ‘rose' to the occasion. The one home run came on June 8th, 2003, hitting fifth, following Manny Ramirez in the third inning off of Milwaukee's Glendon Rusch.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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