The Texas Rangers tied a postseason record when they issued 12 intentional walks last October. Some worked out, but overall, the Rangers likely would have upped their chances of winning the World Series had they just avoided the strategy entirely.
Which seems to be what Ron Washington is doing this year. The Rangers have played 29 games this season without issuing a single intentional walk. And, for what it’s worth, they’re currently 19-10 on the season with the second-best bullpen ERA in the majors at 2.02.
Of course, Washington last year didn’t start going crazy with the intentional walks until the postseason. His team issued 21 during the regular season. Only the Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Brewers issued fewer. Still, the complete absence of intentional walks this year seems like a philosophy change. At last year’s pace, his team would have issued 4 IBBs so far this season.
The Rangers are the only team without an intentional walk handed out this season. The White Sox have issued just one, with the Diamondbacks, Mets and Twins right behind at two apiece. Manager Ozzie Guillen’s Marlins lead the way in intentional walks at 20, with the Padres (13) and Yankees (12) next on the list.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.