Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 13, 2007
BASEBALL: Mostly Intentional

I was looking at Ichiro's career stats and noticing that over a third of his career walks were intentional, and wondered how unusual that really was. Intentional walks have been tracked since 1955, and David Pinto's database goes back to 1957, so using Pinto's source I quickly collected a table of the guys who have drawn 100 or more intentional walks since 1957. Here is the top ten who have drawn the most intentional compared to total walks:

Garry Templeton3751440.384
Vladimir Guerrero5842120.363
Ichiro Suzuki3031080.356
Tony Oliva4491310.292
Ernie Banks6211710.275
Roberto Clemente5901620.275
Barry Bonds24906690.269
Orlando Cepeda5871550.264
Tony Gwynn7902030.257
Johnny Edwards4651180.254

Ichiro is close, but not quite at the top. A second question: which hitters got the most intentional walk respect relative to their dangerousness? Here's the top 10 in IBB compared to Total Bases?

Barry Bonds2886594777476690.114
Johnny Edwards110620232811180.073
Mike Scioscia113119812681010.065
Vladimir Guerrero1859345393502120.064
Willie McCovey2211353465212600.062
Johnny Roseboro1206190441041100.061
Ichiro Suzuki144116552661080.057
Tim McCarver150124257971200.056
Willie Stargell2232423554752270.054
Garry Templeton2096329106701440.051

Of course, number 8 hitters get walked a lot in the NL, and Templeton and Edwards both drew a disproportionate share of their career IBB while batting 8th. Note that Bonds, even with 747 career homers (he's now 4th on the career Total Bases list behind only Aaron, Musial and Mays), still dominates this list.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:02 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

Can this be correlated to something like pitches/plate appearances. For instance, Guerrero swings at a ton of pitches and has the unusual ability to hit pitches out of the strike zone into play a lot. He does not walk a lot due to this so his IBB are disproportionate. Clearly Bonds is going to dominate this category. I was surprised not to see Ruth on either chart. There has to be a way to level the playing field to get rid of the Templetons and see what dangerous hitters get walked via what method.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 6:19 PM

1955, duh. No Ruth.

Posted by: jim at June 13, 2007 6:20 PM

I'm sure if the data were available, Yogi Berra would rate similarly to Guerrero, for the same reasons - didn't walk much in general, almost never struck out, and was famously good at hitting balls out of the strike zone.

I was surprised not to see either Joe Carter or Andre Dawson on either list, since they were big RBI men who rarely walked. Perhaps managers were less impressed by them than sportswriters were, and that's why they got so many RBIs.

Posted by: Jerry at June 13, 2007 10:58 PM

Johnny Edwards? The catcher from the Astros? I remember him not being that great a hitter, so that would be suprising. Also, if I remember right, Templeton usually batted in one of the first three spots, so why would you walk him to get to another good hitter. he was a good hitter, but Jack Clark was the clean-up hitter and Terry Pendleton was usually thrid. I can't imagine walking Templeton to get to them.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 14, 2007 10:06 AM

By the way Jim, Templeton was a dangerous hitter. You might notice he made the second list too. Not so much after he went to San Diego, but in St. Louis he was a very dangerious doubles and triples hitter who could fly.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 14, 2007 10:10 AM

Actually, it appears that most of Templeton's walks came while batting 8th for the Padres.

Posted by: The Crank at June 14, 2007 10:20 AM

That makes more sense. Probably how Johnny Edwards got there too.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 14, 2007 10:30 AM

I remember Templeton when he came up. What talent! Like Dick Allen and Darryl Strawberry, it was talent with a capital T. Then it all went away. There were all sorts of articles ghosted, supposedly by players, on how he would be the next .400 hitter.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at June 14, 2007 11:30 AM


I think Templeton was an OK ballplayer. In his 5 full years in St. Louis he drew a total of 19 IBB. It wasn't until he was in SD that he started getting a ton of IBB. He had years of 23, 24 and 21 consecutively while he hit in those years


Why were people walking him intentionally then? Quite clearly he sucked. He must have been hitting 8th at the time. The only other slappy hitters really on the list are Gwynn and Ichiro both of whom were/are outstanding hitters on teams that generally don't have tons of other hitters. Templeton stands out in this field like a sore thumb.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 11:41 AM

In fact Templeton was such a free-swinger that 3 year period his ratio was 59%! Even Bonds at his 3 year apex was only 43% (albeit over an unreal 249/578). Templeton for his full 7 years in SD was 48%, drawing only 116 regular walks versus 108 IBB. His numbers are so skewed versus his ability and productiveness as a hitter it is mind-boggling. As Tony Soprano would say, "I'm biffled."

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 12:11 PM

Jim, the guy that stands out on the list is Johnny Edwards. Do you know who he was?

Posted by: maddirishman at June 14, 2007 2:06 PM

Edwards was before my baseball time. I looked him up though and he definitely is a product of hitting down in the line-up in the NL. Lots of 8th and 7th place at-bats for his career. I looked up Templeton on this as well and the 3 years he had the high IBB was most certainly a product of uniformly hitting 8th in the line-up (one year he was scattered about but still had more 8th place at bats than anything else). These guys should somehow be factored out of this chart as the sole reason they are issued free passes is because the pitcher is due up.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 2:30 PM


It seems if you took a measure of IBB versus ABs and multiplied it by OPS+ you would get a measure of which hitters are dangerous and get IBB. Bonds comes out on top by a mile (about 12.5) as one would expect and Templeton would be way down on the list (about 1.63), far below guys who received far fewer IBBs. I think you were showing something different but this measurement would give a chart of hitters' productiveness in relation to how often they were walked intentionally. Just a different way of looking at it.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 3:01 PM

Jim, when Garry Templeton played in St. Louis he was on of the most feared top of the order hitters in the league. At the time he was the only hitter to collect more than 100 hits from each side of the plate in a season. As he got older he battled severe issues with his knees as well as a rumored drug problem. In SD he was a shadow of the player he was in SL. Any hitter batting eighth in the NL is going to draw intentional walks in favor of pitching to the pitcher. Johnny Edwards was never a good hitter as you saw when you looked him up. As I recall, he was a good defensive catcher and a good handler of pitchers.

Posted by: maddirishman at June 14, 2007 3:12 PM

I know. I realize that. My point was that Templeton was a) a total free-swinger through his entire career b) did not start racking up IBB until he became a #8 hitter and c) that his IBB in relation to his actual dangerousness as a hitter for the better part of his career was out of balance. While I did not see Edwards play I realize that likely Templeton was a better player and certainly had more mojo at one part of his career than Edwards ever even entertained. Edwards relation of IBB/ABs in relation to OPS+ is better than Templeton's however (2.19 to 1.62-neither of which is very high). This is due to the fact that Templeton's IBB/BB is high but his IBB/ABs is not that outstanding.

Quite simply if the Templeton of the last 10 years of his career was playing in the today's era he would either have to figure out how to get on base more often or he would be on the bench, travelling around the league or out of the game all-together. In the last 11 years of his career he posted an OB% of over .300 only twice and an OPS over .650 only twice. I know the story of Templeton and his injuries and alleged drug addiction but the trade of him and Sixto Lezcano for Ozzie has to rank as an all-time train wreck.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 3:39 PM

Apparently I have too much time on my hands today:

Looking at the Top 10 All Time IBB Guys: Taking IBB/ABs * OPS+ as, let's say, as a Measure of Perceived Danger this is what you get:

1: Bonds 12.6 (freakish but not so much as his 2004 all-time high of 83.65)
2. Aaron 3.86
3. McCovey 4.69
4. Brett 2.99
5. Stargell 4.21
6. Griffey 3.68
7. Murray 2.53
8. F. Robinson 3.36
9. V. Guerrero 5.54
10. Gwynn 2.88

The only active guys I could think of were Ichiro 2.97), Pujols (4.77) and M. Ramirez (3.69). Interestingly (very much so I thought) Alex Rodriguez comes in at 1.27. One of the lowest I saw. He simply does not get walked intentionally.

Most of the guys on Crank's list come in at very modest Danger ratings and this is no doubt due to some guys hitting 8th and having disproportionate IBBs to production. In fairness some guys, especially Clemente (2.29), scored poorly because of parts of their careers. For instance Clemente drew 38 IBB his first 9 years and 129 his last 9. His rating was probably close to 1 for the first half of his career and around 4 for the latter half.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 4:39 PM

Geez, getting over 10 for a season by this measure is difficult if your name is not Barry Bonds. Even in McGuire's 70 HR year he was still 11.88. McCovey posted 19.34 and 14.70. Sosa in his big steroid-addled year posted 12.89. Ryan Howard clocked in at 10.82 last year and is on pace for a whopping 16.20 this year. Even Pujols' monster year last year netted him only a 9.42.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 4:54 PM

That's good work, Jim.

Posted by: The Crank at June 14, 2007 5:06 PM

I've always found it interesting that teams will walk somebody like Ichiro or Rickey Henderson, so easily. These are guys who can manufacture a run on their own. Two steals and a sac fly is all that's needed, once they're on base. I've seen them both do it. I can see why someone would walk Barry Bonds, but why give an Ichiro a better chance to score on you by walking him?

Posted by: Devon Young at June 14, 2007 5:39 PM

The 2nd all-time BB guy Ricky Henderson drew 61 IBB in his career bringing him at .71.

Posted by: jim at June 14, 2007 6:12 PM

I'm mildly surprised to see Gwynn's name on that list. I mean, he was a Judy. Odds are, he's going to hit a single. How many times does a single hurt you?

Posted by: Hoystory at June 15, 2007 4:13 AM

I think it would be an interesting factor to put in a "next-hitter" component to this equation. perhaps if you multiplied the number already generated by the ratio of the on-deck hitter's OPS+ to the OPS+ of the guy being walked. That way you would get a look at the danger component. In Gwynn's case if there was a guy on second in a one run/tie game you probably would put him on since, during his hayday, he was a .350 hitter and, since he played largely for poor teams, the guy behind him likely was not nearly the hitter Gwynn was. By factoring in the next hitter's prowess it would serve, in this case, to lower Gwynn's Perceived Danger from 2.88 down into the lower 2s (I am assuming that the guy batting behind Gwynn generally had an OPS+ of around 70-75% of Gwynn's). It would also help explain why a guy like, say, David Ortiz does not get a ton of IBB even though he's a great clutch hitter. His number would not necessarily fall that much, in some years it would even go up since Manny is hitting behind him.

The thing about A-Rod is puzzling though. The most IBB he has received is 12. I would have thought with Texas he was getting put on all the time. I guess they sucked so badly that there was not as much need to walk him toward the end of games. Still, his number is amazingly low considering his production.

Posted by: jim at June 15, 2007 11:06 AM
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