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The 2014 Intentional Walk Rage Scale leaderboard

May 14, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

bonds walk

Last week our own Joe Posnanski created the Intentional Walk Rage System. Then he updated it the other day with Ron Washington’s epically bad intentional walk of David Ortiz.

Today, Chris Teeter of Beyond the Box Score evaluates all of the intentional walks of the 2014 season using Joe’s system. You’ll be shocked to see that that Ortiz walk was only the seventh worst all year. You’ll also find out which manager, on average, issues the most rage-worthy intentional walks.

Very neat stuff.

  1. 18thstreet - May 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    I love being a fan now. I love that there’s always some guy out there who has answered whatever I wonder about.

  2. Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    There should be a “Bonds Rule” or something because, I mean, looking at the “worst” instance isn’t really all that bad in my opinion. Walking Stanton in the 2nd inning with 2 outs and a runner on second when the guy batting behind him has a .665 OPS isn’t all that rage-worthy to me. If the pitcher “pitches around” Stanton, without giving him anything to hit, would that also cause the same outrage? How about if he throws 3 balls, then the 4th is intentional (I believe this is still considered an IBB)? Would this cause outrage?

    This type of black and white thing is what causes people to hate Sabremetrics. I don’t think you would find too many people calling that IBB terrible, yet it is the worst one of the year? And if the pitcher threw around Stanton gave him nothing to hit, and walked him on 4 pitches, I doubt anybody at all would complain. Yet because the stat is an IBB, it’s terrible? Dumb.

    • sandwiches4ever - May 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      I think its terrible. Even at his most dangerous, Stanton will make an out (and end the inning) 60+% of the time. Yes, you have better odds with the next guy (significantly), but the chances of it hurting you more have increased.

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Come on now. Be honest…with 2 outs and a guy on second, are you telling me that any pitcher is going to give Stanton something to hit? With the base open? Remember, we aren’t talking about robots here(sometimes the sabremetric community forgets this). These are human beings, who know the situation in the back of their minds. If anything, the pitcher is definitely going to pitch around Stanton, and guess what, there’s a slim chance that he may end up throwing a wild pitch and now there’s a guy standing 90 feet away from scoring. And why? Because instead of putting up the IBB, the pitcher pitched around Stanton and threw one away.

        Nah, in this instance, and granted, it’s a small % of the instances, I would walk Stanton in a heartbeat. The fact that this is the “worst”, most “terrible” instance makes me think the whole “stat” is stupid.

      • buddaley - May 14, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        “This type of black and white thing is what causes people to hate Sabremetrics.”

        No. You have to add a phrase such as “because the people who hate sabremetrics see things as black and white since they either don’t read or can’t understand what is written” in order for the statement to be true.

        The keys are:
        1. Don’t be so literal. There is an element of fun in these articles. They are intended to stimulate thinking about an issue, not to represent some orthodoxy or absolute truth.
        2. Don’t look at the lists as final statements. They include all sorts of caveats and qualifications. If you read the discussion itself, you will see the modesty of the claims.
        3. Lists are merely a start reflecting the results of some formula. They are nearly always gross statements that require all sorts of further analysis to see how well they conform to reality. Their use is as a shorthand to begin, not end, discussion.
        4. All assertions made by sabremetrics are tentative in the sense that they are subject to modification or reversal as further research requires. It is one way sabremetric discussion is different from traditional approaches that simply repeat old formulas regardless of evidence.

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        My comment is specifically for the person who responded to my comment above. When someone can only blurt out the stats, and doesn’t think about the situation, then they are not being fair and treating these guys like robots.

        I don’t need the lecture. Fact is that this “stat”, while I get that it is mostly for fun, has already been taken by a sabremetric site and they have applied it to all IBBs. Now, if you want to say “they include all sorts of caveats” that’s cool. I know that. But the FACT is that this IBB was the #1 most terrible, awful, worst, IBB of the season, according to this stat, and it is simply stupid to think that there was anything wrong with not pitching to Stanton in that spot.

        if you don’t see that, like the person I responded to did not (and he also proceeded to argue his point with some stats of his own), then you are letting sabremetrics blind you to the simple fact that no pitcher is going to give Stanton anything to kill them with in that spot and it isn’t a bad IBB at all…not even close.

      • buddaley - May 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        As I said, it is not “black and white”. It is possible you are right, that the Stanton walk was entirely reasonable. Perhaps the formula doesn’t work in that case. Perhaps by not taking into account the subtleties of the situation, it overlooks important elements of the decision. Perhaps despite your assurance that it was the right thing to do, it really wasn’t.

        The point is, that while Stanton’s walk appears as the worst, the list is not to be taken as a literal representation of reality. And that is what you are doing. You are focusing on what to you is an obvious error and drawing broad conclusions about sabremetrics or about the criticism of bad IWWs from it. You are making the list black and white when the article clearly notes it is not intended to be.

        A more legitimate reaction would be to identify, as you do, the reasons you think the walk was legitimate despite the formula, and suggest the formula needs tweaking or that we need to be more sophisticated in our judgments or that as is often the case, a sabremetric principle works better in the macro world than the micro.

        But to suggest that the “error” (if it is) legitimizes some people’s hatred of sabremetrics is a misreading of sabremetrics entirely. If you know there are caveats and qualifications, you should pay attention to them. They answer your criticism as there is no claim that placing Stanton’s walk at the top of the list means it really was the worst decision.

      • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        Some things are black and white. If you intentionally walk a hitter in the 2nd inning, you are decreasing your chances of winning that game (unless the pitcher or Pete Kozma are on deck). That actually is a fact based on the likelihood of ensuing events.

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 1:17 PM

        Paperbag, once again, you fail to see the forest for the trees. Intentional or not, Stanton is not getting a pitch to hit in that at bat. Whether you want to think the pitcher is a robot who isn’t looking at who is on deck, who is at the plate, what the current situation is, or whatever. The fact is that no pitcher with half a brain is going to let Stanton beat them there. They are going to either pitch around him and give him an “unintentional” walk, or the manager is just going to throw up the 4 fingers and do what common sense as well as good strategy states, and give Stanton the walk.

        If you fail to see that in this one instance, the intentional walk is the play, then you are just being silly or are just worshiping the stats without looking at the situation.

      • buddaley - May 14, 2014 at 1:32 PM

        Paperlions, I am not arguing that you are not decreasing your chance of winning by intentionally walking a man in the second inning. It probably is absolutely true that you are. In that sense, it is “black and white”.

        But while I think Bob Loblaw is overreacting to the ranking of Stanton’s walk, and is much too certain that it was right, I do agree with his intimation that even if the odds are overwhelming in that situation, it does not mean it is always (or ever) wrong to intentionally walk him. There may be factors not covered-perhaps psychological factors about how that pitcher feels that day or moment, perhaps longer term strategies of dealing with Stanton that game or some insight into how this pitcher and this or the next batter match up, perhaps something noted in the body language of Stanton and the pitcher in this AB or perhaps something simply not accounted for in the odds but still meaningful.

        Over 1000 ABs, chances are walking Stanton will hurt you more than help X% of the time, but each circumstance is unique regardless, and there may always be a special factor to consider. I don’t like the intentional walk at all, and except for very special circumstances would not want my team to do it. But no matter how certain the numbers, we have to leave room for exceptions, even to the most hard and fast orthodoxies, and allow room for personal experience to hold sway.

        Incidentally, in this case, I would not have walked Stanton. Not in the second inning. In fact, I would not pitch around him either.

      • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        No Bob, it is you that is failing to see the forest. The forest = effect of decision on likelihood of winning a baseball game. Putting any hitter on base on purpose in the 2nd inning decreases a teams chances of winning that game.

        You are the one staring at the venation of the leaves of the trees in the forest…as knowing whether or not an IBB in the 2nd inning is a good idea or not requires little contextual information.

      • mikhelb - May 14, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        @PaperLions “Some things are black and white. If you intentionally walk a hitter in the 2nd inning, you are decreasing your chances of winning that game (unless the pitcher or Pete Kozma are on deck). That actually is a fact based on the likelihood of ensuing events.”

        Decreasing a chance to win a game is not a fact but merely a projection of what could happen, remember that we are talking about probabilities.

        Probabilities also say: a walk can increase the probability that at least one run will score.

        Example: bottom of the 9th with 1 out, runners on 2nd and 3rd.

        Win expectancy for the home team: 80.74%
        Win expectancy with the bases loaded after an IBB: 85.79%

        That is a increase of 5% for the home team.

        run expectancy? that decreases:
        probability that a run will score with men on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out: 69.8%
        probability that a run will score with the bases loaded and 1 out: 67.9%

        And because it is the bottom 9th inning and a multi-run scenario is non relevant, we could not take into account the multi-run expectancy, which increasses after a walk, from 1.44 runs to 1.63 runs.

        Overall when two out of three expectancy calculations tell you that things might go wrong, they could go wrong.

        And those are not facts, are probabilities based on past events recorded and observed (on past facts), but are just that: probabilities.

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

        If the argument is whether it is always wrong to issue an IBB in that position, I would say no not always. You are citing statistics that take into account nothing about the pitcher or the hitter…you know, the humanity of the situation. Which is why you would say it is wrong 100% of the time.

        I, on the other hand, choose to enjoy baseball as a human game, with human elements. Now, if a perfectly healthy Stanton comes up in that spot, then by all means, I am walking him. Unless Roger Clemens(or someone as great as him) is on the mound. Then I am trusting the Rocket to pitch around the guy or simply blow him away. If he gives up hits/bombs too many times in that position, I may take the choice away but needless to say, if it’s the Rocket, he’s doing what he wants to do. If it is Joe Smith, rookie first year pitcher starting in his first game, and he’s sweating his ass off facing one of the best hitters in the game, with that garbage clean-up hitter after him, I’m putting up the 4 fingers every day of the week and twice on Sunday with Stanton. Even with Cabrera, who obviously is better than Stanton, I am not doing that because Martinez hitting behind him is far better than anybody who could be hitting behind Stanton. Obviously, I’m not doing it with Trout. Or just about anybody else.

        In that situation, in that spot, with that lineup and that player, I am issuing the IBB. You want to call it stupid, then go ahead. That’s why they have Paper and Plastic…no pun intended.

      • buddaley - May 14, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        I don’t agree, Paperlions. The numbers show the likelihood spread over a great number of situations, not the absolute probability in each individual one. In X% of the time a man on base will score in the second inning and lead to a win for his team is perhaps very high, but in a specific instance it might not be as high; it might even be low.

        If I have a lefty on the mound and Stanton at bat, and the lefty is a fly ball pitcher while the next batter is left handed with a terrible record vs. lefties, I might think it prudent to walk Stanton. Context always matters; it matters in every decision.

        As I said, I disagree with Bob, but do think the notion of deciding each decision based purely on the numbers is invalid. And I don’t think any sabremetrician would defend such a view. Stats have to be interpreted in each case. They should guide but not determine. Anyone who ignores them is foolish, but being a slave to them (assuming you know which ones are significant in each case) is also foolish.

        Posnanski’s opposition to IWWs is partly aesthetic (even moral) in that he considers it violating the spirit of competition and unfair to spectators who paid to see the best batters get a chance to do their stuff. He has created a model to support his antipathy to IWWs, but it is hardly more than a start to thinking about the issue. It hasn’t been peer reviewed, nor has it been tested or critiqued. It is really kind of a random brainstorming on his part. Taking one apparent anomaly (to Bob) in no way discredits his effort.

        But while there is ample evidence of the mistake in intentionally putting runners on base early in the game, it does not mean that is some inviolable rule.

    • 18thstreet - May 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I think you’re misunderstanding why some of us like statistical analysis. I wouldn’t call the Teeter/Posnanski counting system “sabermetrics.” I wouldn’t even call it statistics. I don’t know what it is. The formula is just a bunch of numbers thrown into a blender. It maxes out at 25 points, but an IBB with a Rage Score of 24 is not twice as bad as one that scores 12 — it’s just worse. An 18 and a 22 are probably about equal. This is not precise. (Then again, hits versus errors are not precise, either, but we still look at batting average.)

      As you point out, there’s reasons to walk Stanton in that situation. Defensible ones. I mean, the Rage Score system is less than a week old! It’s more than likely that Joe will amend the formula and give us a 6000-word post explaining which intentional walks most remind him of Brian Sype and the 1980 Cleveland Browns or something. Ted Stepien will feature prominently. Also, I’d love an omelette right about now.

      The way I read Teeter’s post is, “Here’s all the intentional walks. Let’s figure out which of them are really bad, and which aren’t so bad. And let’s see if some managers are more reckless than others.” Just because something has numbers attached does not make it math.

      • 18thstreet - May 14, 2014 at 11:23 AM

        Ooh, never mind what I wrote. Buddaley did it better.

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        “As you point out, there’s reasons to walk Stanton in that situation. Defensible ones.”

        See, here’s where we will differ. Not only do I think there are defensible reasons, I think it is INDEFENSIBLE to NOT intentionally walk Stanton there. By pitching around him, you only leave the door open for something else happening. And both pitcher and hitter realize he isn’t getting anything to hit, so why would you even bother trying?

      • 18thstreet - May 14, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        So you believe there’s literally a 100 percent chance that Stanton gets at least a single?

      • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        No, but I do believe that there is a 100% chance that he will get nothing to hit in that situation. Unless there’s a guy like Kershaw, Greinke, etc. on the mound, nobody is going to throw him anything to hit with the base open. Psychologically or however you want to look at it, with 2 outs and a base open, the pitcher is going to try to fool him a couple times with some balls in the dirt, maybe take a chance on one at eye level, and then, they may even get up and give him the 4th pitch as intentional, which would make the whole thing an IBB anyway LOL. I will say this…I think there’s probably close to a 100% chance he doesn’t make an out there. How’s that.

    • raysfan1 - May 14, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      Posnansky’s rage scale is not sabermetrics. He also did not mean it as a black and white, no discussion needed type of thing. It was just supposed to be a fun way to blow off a bit of steam. His premise is that all IBBs are detestable and uses his scale as an expression of how annoying he finds them.

  3. justinreds - May 14, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Except the part where his least rageworthy IBB of the season (Mike Matheny walked Brayan Pena) actually turned out to be the winning run of the game.

    • 18thstreet - May 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      “We are not talking here about whether the walk “works” or “blows up.” In baseball, stupid decisions work often. Great decisions fail often.”
      — Joe Posnanski, Father of the Intentional Walk Rage System, May 9, 2014

    • paperlions - May 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      No, it didn’t. Pena didn’t matter, only the guy on 3rd mattered as it was 0-0 in the bottom of the 9th with 1 out and men on 2nd and 3rd. Pena didn’t score. He didn’t do anything. Walking him set up a force at home or a possible GIDP to end the inning.

  4. mikhelb - May 14, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Last season Girardi ordered an IBB to load the bases in the early innings (i think it was the 1st inning) to pitch to Sean Rodríguez who had a high AVG/OBP/SLG lifetime vs the Yankees pitcher… result? grand slam. He later did the same thing vs another batter with good numbers vs Sabathia and… bases clearing double.

    • Bob Loblaw - May 14, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      Whether they hit slams or whether they struck out, those are two of the dumbest IBB in the history of baseball no matter what the flawed Joe Pos stats would have given them 😛

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