Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Intentional Walks

The Red Sox came awfully close to blowing their 3-run lead last night. The chatter has largely centered on the exciting play at the plate - but that play would have been non-issue if Papelbon hadn't given up a two-run homer to Jose Bautista earlier in the inning.

Bautista is the only AL batter currently contending with Adrian Gonzalez for the title of MVP. he has a .331 batting average, and 28 home runs. He has the highest on base percentage in the AL (0.467) and the highest slugging percentage (0.687.) In those last two categories, noone else even comes close.

So why didn't Papelbon just walk him, and take his chances with the far less intimidating batters that make up the rest of the Blue Jays lineup?

Because, apparently, that's not what the Red Sox do. At this point in the season, the staff has intentionally walked a grand total of only 6 batters.

The MLB average is 21.

I'm all for self-confidence. I love to see fearless pitching. But I also love to see intelligent pitching. Philadelphia, which has by far the most successful pitching staff in the big leagues, has intentionally walked 21 batters. Atlanta, whose pitching staff is almost as good, has intentionally walked 35. Over in Oakland, where all five starting pitchers have ERAs below 3.33, they've intentionally walked 20.

These are teams that are pitching with their heads as well as their arms. We could learn a thing or two.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting post. the sox are quite shockingly below average and it's hard not to agree with what you're saying. as much as i too love to see gutty, fearless pitching, i wonder what tito's got in his mind on this one? fearlessness? i can't imagine that. confidence? sure, but when does that become cockiness, to a fault? maybe if a few more of those mistakes end up in the loss column. i hope it doesn't come to that!!