On intentionally walking the bases loaded ...

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first paragraph of a longer article. I haven't done any research yet, but my goal is to look at every intentional walk to load the bases in 2013. There were 370 of them, and I want to look at all of them. This is because I'm curious. Also, because I'm an idiot. I have no idea how long this will take, but I can guess. And by the end of the night, I will want to punch intentional walks in the neck. Let's see what the second paragraph is like.

This is the second paragraph. The research is done. I want to punch intentional walks in the neck.

For the last couple years, I've used my bully pulpit to decry loading the bases on purpose. Seems like a stupid move. Puts too much power in the hands of the umpire. Costs the ability to be fine and the option of teasing impatient hitters. There are so many things I hate about the move. And we keep seeing it over and over and over again in the playoffs. Mike Matheny did it. Don Mattingly did it. Jim Leyland did it … with no outs.

Who are the worst offenders? Is it really a bad move? What are the situational breakdowns for walks to load the bases?


Here are the IBBTLTBs by team:

1. Giants 23
2. Cubs 18
2. Twins 18
4. Mariners 17
4. Rangers 17
6. Orioles 16
6. Dodgers 16
8. Diamondbacks 15
8. Rockies 15
8. Marlins 15
8. Mets 15
12. Phillies 14
12. Padres 14
14. Indians 13
14. Astros 13
14. Cardinals 13
17. Tigers 11
17. Angels 11
17. Brewers 11
17. Yankees 11
17. Blue Jays 11
22. Reds 10
23. Braves 9
23. Nationals 9
25. White Sox 8
26. Royals 7
27. A's 6
27. Pirates 6
27. Rays 6
30. Red Sox 2

Oh. There, right there. The source of my obsession, standing naked for everyone to see.

One thing you'll notice is that there's a rough correlation between a team's ERA and proclivity for the IBBTLTB. That's not necessarily because the teams who do it a lot allow more runs for this reason, but because there are more second-and-third-no-outs situations when pitchers aren't doing their jobs.

But it's an imperfect correlation. The Rangers and Dodgers had good staffs, and they're up near the top. The Blue Jays struggled, but they're in the bottom-third, for example.


0 outs: 29
1 out: 186
2 out: 155

What Leyland did was really rare. There were only 29 intentional walks to load the bases with no outs in the 2013 regular season. The Mariners had five of them, for what it's worth. And do you know how many times a team gave up an IBBTLTB with no outs and ended up winning the game?


Until Max Scherzer.

Check my math. But they all lost. Walking the bases loaded with no outs is like drawing phallic symbols on the baseball gods when they're passed out drunk. When they wake up, they're so mad. Why would you do that? You are really stupid, pal.

Until Max Scherzer.

So if the Tigers win this silly thing, remember the odds of Leyland's strategy. It never ever ever ever works out. Until it did.

The Indians are jerks

There was one team that loaded the bases with an intentional walk when they had a five-run lead. That would be the Indians in this game. They had a five-run lead against the Royals, and when the Royals got runners on second and third with one out, the Indians loaded the bases on purpose. The Royals got a run, but no more. The Indians would win.

But the jerky part? The Indians got that big lead when the Royals loaded the bases on purpose, and Lonnie Chisenhall hit a grand slam. Some 80-grade trolling, right there.

Did it work?

I almost made it through April in the box scores without chewing my tongue. I clicked on 10 percent of the box scores with teams that walked the bases loaded on purpose. Of the 36 box scores I looked at ...

18 teams got out of the inning without allowing another run
18 teams gave up another run
5 intentional walks eventually scored
3 teams got the double play they were looking for

Small sample? Of course. But then I realized that even if I looked at all 370, that would still be a small sample. It would be like looking at a half-season's worth of plate appearances for a hitter. So I laughed and made the decision to make this article worse.

But I'll sleep tonight. So extrapolate those numbers. They're ... probably close.

Who was walked to load the bases more often than any other hitter?

David Ortiz, who was walked nine times to load the bases.

Joey Votto and Chris Davis were second with seven. Jay Bruce, Robinson Cano, and Andre Ethier were tied for fourth with sixth. If you're looking for a pattern: All of them are left-handed hitters. They were all walked because managers didn't want to bring in the lefty specialist for a single batter.

After Adrian Beltre at #9, Pete Kozma rounds out the top-ten. Remember that, Dodgers. Don't mess with Pete Kozma. Throw meatballs down the middle to Adam Wainwright instead. He can barely hit.

There were 40 teams that walked the bases loaded down by four runs or more

I mean, this is special. Spoiler: One of them won the game. The Rangers did it down 9-0 in the third inning. They lost 17-5. The Nationals did it down 8-0 in the sixth. They lost 9-0.

The least scary player walked down by four or more? Pretty easy. Gregor Blanco. Most of the names on the list were names you'd expect. Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Joey Votto ... and Gregor Blanco. And Brandon Crawford. And Jose Molina.

Blanco was walked to face Tim Lincecum. Smart move with two outs. It worked.

Crawford was walked to face Tim Lincecum. Smart move with two outs. It worked.

Blanco was walked to face David Price. Smart move with two outs. It worked. And then the Dodgers came back from a 6-0 deficit to win the game. Because that team is going to kill us all. Just wait.

Conclusion? Walk the bases loaded to get to the pitcher. Other than that, c'mon. It just doesn't make sense. Unless you're Jim Leyland on a spirit quest, in which case, yeah, do whatever. Smell the air and figure that Scherzer's going to get out of it because the universe is whispering in his ear. Every so often, you may be right.

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