So, to catch you up quickly, I put up my Intentional Walk Rage System up the other day in response to a particularly awful walk ordered by Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost. The system has six parts to it and has a maximum of 25 points — that being the perfectly awful intentional walk. Yost’s ordered walk of Robinson Cano almost tilted the system but not quite. It turned out to be a 23-point walk on the rage system, meaning it was bad enough to make me want to hit my head with a wok again and again but not quite bad enough to make me want to make me want to have a piano land on my head
Sunday, Texas manager Ron Washington tried desperately to top him, tried desperately for the coveted 25-point walk. He didn’t quite do it. As you will see, though, his walk was SO BAD it did force me to add another element to the system. Bonus points.
Let’s go through the Washington walk step by step. Sunday, Texas against Boston, the Red Sox leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia began the game with a double. Red Sox manager John Farrell then had Shane Victorino sacrifice bunt … if there was rage system for terrible sacrifice bunts THAT ONE would rank very high. I haven’t come up with the features of that system yet but bunting in the first inning, in Texas, with a good hitter and with the double play not even in order would certainly score very high.
But we’re not talking bunts, we’re talking walks, so Pedroia moved to third. Up came David Ortiz. The Rangers had lefty Robbie Ross Jr. on the mound so the Red Sox had the lefty-lefty matchup. Washington ordered the intentional walk anyway.
Let’s put it into the system and see what we get:
Q1: What inning was it?
First inning, so that gets the maximum number of points of rage.
Result: 9 points.
Q2: Did the walk bring up the opposing pitcher or a particularly weak hitter?
No. No. No. No. No. No. The walk brought up Mike Napoli, who is a terrific hitter. He has a a lifetime 127 OPS+.
Result: 3 points
Total: 12 points
Q3: Did the walk give your team the platoon advantage or force the opposing manager to go to his bench?
No. It gave the exact opposite of the platoon advantage. More on this in a minute.
Result: 3 points.
Total: 15 points
Q4: Does the baserunner matter?
Absolutely. First inning, the baserunner matters a lot.
Result: 3 points
Total: 18 points
Q5: Are you setting up the double play to get out of an inning?
Well … yes. There was only one out in the inning so part of the strategy was to get out of the inning. This does reduce the outrageousness slightly.
Result: 0 points
Total: 18 points.
Q6: Are you intentionally walking someone SOLELY to avoid a great hitter?
No. Not solely. I’d say it was 75% to avoid Ortiz, though. The maximum you can give here is four points. I’ll give three points.
Result: 3 points
Final total: 21 points.
So, by the math, this walk was not quite as bad as the Royals walk of Cano. But there is another factor I had not considered the first time around … mainly because I just didn’t think any manager would be odd enough to force this question.
Q7: Is the player you are walking to face CLEARLY BETTER than the the batter you walk?
This takes the question to a whole other level. As much as I despised all those Barry Bonds intentional walks, as much as I despise all those cowardly decisions not to trust pitchers to get out good hitters, as much as all that drives me nuts … I will generally concede that, hey, managers are ordering these walks to lesser hitters.
But in this case? No. I don’t think so. Well, certainly, David Ortiz is an overall better hitter than Mike Napoli. But we are not talking about an general situation here. We are talking about a situation where the pitcher on the mound is left-handed.
Mike Napoli is a MUCH better hitter against lefties than righties.
David Ortiz is a MUCH worse hitter against lefties than righties.
You might argue that this is already covered in the platoon advantage question, but I’m asking making a slightly different point here. In this case, Mike Napoli is also a better hitter than David Ortiz. One way to test this is to ask the question in reverse. Let’s say you have a lefty on the mound and there’s a man on third base. You want to intentionally walk someone to set up the double play. Which intentional walk would make MORE sense?
1. Walk Ortiz to face Napoli?
2. Walk Napoli to face Ortiz?
David Ortiz, in his career, hits .268/.341/.480 against lefties. Last year he hit .260/.315/.418.
Mike Napoli, in his career, hits .275/.385/.521 against lefties. Last year he hit .284/.376/.523.
I’m not sure how to score walking one hitter to face a better hitter on the scale because it’s so ridiculous that I’m not sure it comes up often enough. For now, it’s enough to give this Washington walk a three-point bonus, making it a 24-point intentional walk … just about enough to peak my general rage and disgust. It goes without saying that Napoli promptly doubled, in the end all three runs scores, and the Rangers lost by three. I’ve made the point before that the rage system is unconcerned with the result of the walk — sometimes stupid intentional walks get good results just like sometimes terrible poker players win money. But in this case, the result is fulfilling. A walk that bad deserves to blow up.
Remember how Andy Griffith on the old Andy Griffith Show would only give Barney Fife one bullet, in case of emergencies? The Rangers might want to consider doing something like that for Ron Washington, for his own good.