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Friday, July 17, 2009

wezen-ball: The Intentional Walk Has to Stay

Jeez, just trot out Dean Smith and let him hold up four-fingers that aren’t wrapped around Four Roses and be done with it.

There’s a sentiment going around the baseball blogosphere that, every time I encounter it, I can’t quite seem to understand: intentional walks are anathema to the game and should be removed from the game. Oh, I read and follow and understand the arguments that are provided, but I just can’t shake the feeling that what I’m reading are justifications for getting rid of something that the blogger doesn’t like on a personal level instead of legitimate reasons for outlawing a true flaw of the game of baseball. The fact that these arguments are raised by some of the writers that I admire the most - Joe Posnanski and Tom Tango to name two - just serves to confuse me even more. The intentional walk of Victor Martinez in this week’s All Star Game seems to have re-sparked the fire, at least a little.

...So we get it. The intentional walk is no good for the game of baseball because it’s an unsportsmanlike way of avoiding the challenges that are inherent to the game. Thus, Pos and Tango would argue, it should be done away with completely and anything resembling an intentional pass must be penalized in some way.

But I just don’t see where that leap in logic came from. Walks are a powerful weapon. It’s been well-established in the sabermetric community, and accepted throughout much of baseball in general these days, that walks, while not as powerful or impactful as a line drive basehit to the outfield, are still incredibly useful and should be viewed as a positive result of any at-bat. So how can anyone feel that the pitching team is taking away the offense’s weapons when they freely and intentionally put the batter on base? A walk is a penalty to the pitching team and a boon to the offense. Why then are we complaining about it?

Repoz Posted: July 17, 2009 at 11:43 AM | 329 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: projections, sabermetrics

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   1. Mattbert Posted: July 17, 2009 at 12:03 PM (#3257088)
I think the intentional walk is just fine, but they need to dispense with requiring the pitcher to actually throw all four pitches. Just allow the manager to put up four fingers and the hitter takes his base.

As it stands, it's a waste of time and can throw the pitcher out of sync.
   2. Russ Posted: July 17, 2009 at 12:22 PM (#3257094)
I disagree 100%. We've seen just enough intentional walks go awry that we should make the pitcher work for the walk.
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 17, 2009 at 12:44 PM (#3257101)
Lest you think that this is a new development -- the reason that there's a catcher's box is because the powers that be were trying to stop pitchers from intentionally walking Babe Ruth.

Since that hasn't worked (though to be fair, they haven't walked Ruth in decades), I also propose eliminating the catcher's box.
   4. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:00 PM (#3257111)
Lest you think that this is a new development -- the reason that there's a catcher's box is because the powers that be were trying to stop pitchers from intentionally walking Babe Ruth.

Although when Ruth was playing, the catcher's box was shaped like a triangle, and was about twice as wide at the back as it is today.
   5. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:07 PM (#3257115)
Mattbert expresses my sentiment perfectly.
   6. paqash Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:20 PM (#3257129)
I don't understand it either... It's a little like the double team in basketball - you don't want the best guy to beat you, you want the other guys to try. And sometimes it will come back to bite you in the ass, just like the intentional walk, but you do anything that'll give you a better chance of winning.

Although now that I think about it, maybe an intentional foul is a better basketball analogy. And I hate intentional fouls.

Now I'm all confused.
   7. wjones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:21 PM (#3257130)
This is another testimony to the greatness of Babe Ruth...they were intentionally walking him so they could pitch to...Lou Gehrig. Just awesome. Which, BTW, must be a large factor in Gehrig's large number of Grand Slams.
   8. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:24 PM (#3257132)
This is another testimony to the greatness of Babe Ruth...they were intentionally walking him so they could pitch to...Lou Gehrig.
Well, not quite. This was in the early 20s, when Lou wasn't with the team.
   9. OsunaSakata Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:24 PM (#3257133)
I disagree 100%. We've seen just enough intentional walks go awry that we should make the pitcher work for the walk.


You mean like balking during an intentional walk attempt? Yes, the Nats have done it.
   10. RJ in TO Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:26 PM (#3257134)
You mean like balking during an intentional walk attempt? Yes, the Nats have done it.


Wow. I didn't hear about that one.

The Nats are actually finding ways to screw up on a baseball field which have never occured to me.
   11. hokieneer Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:33 PM (#3257138)
Even if the "intentional walk" is done away with, no rules committee will ever be able to remove the "un-intentional intentional walk", so what is the point of this article again?
   12. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:34 PM (#3257142)
You mean like balking during an intentional walk attempt? Yes, the Nats have done it.


The Nats are the gift that keeps on giving. Who pulled that one off?

Count me as one who thinks the IBB is fine the way it is. I understand that it might throw a pitcher off his rhythm but if you're worried about that don't issue the walk or make a pitching change.
   13. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 01:49 PM (#3257162)
On my blog, I call for all 4-pitch walks to be treated differently.

The late-game basketball foul is the perfect analogy, since in both cases the defense wants and is pleading with the referee to give the "advantage" to the offense, and would be upset if the penalty was not called. This is unlike in other sports: in football, the offended team gets the chance to decline the penalty; in hockey, play continues until the offended team loses possession of the puck; in soccer, if the offended team retains advantage, play continues. In all cases, the penalty must work against the offender, not for them.

(The icing rule in hockey during a PP is also a bad one: the defense is allowed to shoot the puck to the other end without icing it.)

The purpose of the walk rule is to force the pitcher to throw to the strike zone. It's not intended to be used as a weapon by the defense.

My challenge to readers is to play devil's advocate, set aside your personal feelings, and defend the O.J. of sports: 4 pitch walks to Bonds/Pujols, and the late-game fouls in basketball.
   14. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:00 PM (#3257168)
The purpose of the walk rule is to force the pitcher to throw to the strike zone. It's not intended to be used as a weapon by the defense.


I agree, but I will take it a step further. Its also not intended to be a weapon of the offense. Its suppose to be a penalty for the failure to throw strikes. Custball is just as bad as an IBB. It turns a great sport into an archery contest where you get some big goofy looking guy from the stands to play goaltender at the target.

If they break the age-old seal on stikeouts and walks, I would be happy to see them increase the ball count for a BB. For instance:

(1) 4 straight balls - Batter gets first base.

(2) For every strike, the pitcher gets another ball before there is a BB. Five balls with 1 strike. Six balls with 2 strikes.

(3) A starting pitcher gets four walks and on the fifth walk they are disqualified from the game. A relief pitcher gets three walks and on the fourth walk, the player is ejected from the game.

(4) If in the umpire's descretion, a pitcher makes no attempt to reach the strikezone on a hitter before the end of the at bat, the umpire may disqualify the pitcher.
   15. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:08 PM (#3257172)
Bl/14: excellent point that the weaponary isn't for the offense either. I like your #2 above.
   16. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:13 PM (#3257176)
defend the O.J. of sports: 4 pitch walks to Bonds/Pujols, and the late-game fouls in basketball.


I am not sure these are quite the same. Fouls at the end of a basketball game prevent a team from running out the clock, and don't necessarily make the game less exciting to the viewer. If we allowed the offense to decline fouls, it would reduce the number of comebacks teams can make. It would also encourage teams to start the stall tactics earlier in the game. Basketball would arguably be less exciting than it currently is (and Memphis might be the 2008 NCAA champions).

The intentional walk removes an exciting batter/pitcher match-up at a key moment of the game. So arguably it does make the game less exciting. I am not sure that it is so bad that we need to do away with it. And I would be afraid of the unintended consequences of whatever method was used.
   17. Craig in MN Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:18 PM (#3257180)
I think the solution is to let the hitter decline a walk (or HBP), just like in football you can decline a penalty. If the hitter wants to stay in and get his cuts, then so be it. I also think that if the count gets up to 8 balls, then he can choose to "walk" to second base, but that's an optional addon rule. If, as Tango says, the point of the walk is to get pitchers to throw strikes, why not force them to throw strikes?

I don't see any inherent reason that the batting team should have to accept the walk. It's certainly an effective penalty in some situations, but not always...let the batting team decide if they want the penalty or not. They shouldn't be forced to have their hitter walk to first so their pitcher can hit, or be forced to set up a double play if they don't want to, or be forced to skip their best hitter because the next match up suits the other team better. It makes the strategy very interesting. Good managers would have to really know when it's to their advantage to talk a walk.
   18. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:18 PM (#3257182)
I don't think complicating baseball's rules is the answer. More pitcher's that could throw strikes and more umpires who could call a belt-high strike would be better. (And fewer pitchers and batters that have to walk around and scratch themselves between pitches would be nice, too.) And I'm not sold on the idea that Jeff Francoeur-style hacking is more enjoyable than a Jack Cust at bat. At least with Cust there's a chess game element of the at bat. Also, I'm not sure why you'd want to punish the TTO type of hitter for the pitcher's failure to throw the ball over the plate.
   19. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:22 PM (#3257186)
Fouls at the end of a basketball game prevent a team from running out the clock, and don't necessarily make the game less exciting to the viewer.

They absolutely make the game less exciting, unless you think commercials are exciting. I can't watch basketball primarily because of the intentional fouling. It makes the endings of games longer than they need to be.

And there's already a mechanism to prevent teams from running out the clock - it's called the shot clock.

I don't mind the intentional walk, although I think that it's way, way overused. Most of the time, it works out to the advantage of the batting team.
   20. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:32 PM (#3257194)
Craig: yes, Bill James calls it the "double walk". His suggestion is that the batting team can decline any walk, not just the 4-pitch walk. And if he gets a second walk, then he goes to 2B.

As Poz once noted, Bonds (and now Pujols) have crossed the line that they are now (on occasion) too good to be allowed to hit.

Imagine a rule in hockey (or basketball) where the defense gets to choose one player on the offense that is not allowed to be in the offensive zone (say Ovechkin). And the penalty for that is that the defense has two players removed from their defending zone. In effect, a 4-3 powerplay, but without the opposing team's best shooter.

Seeing Bonds walked in the World Series at will is, I think, the lowlight in the last decade. The best was when Bonds was actually allowed to swing.
   21. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:42 PM (#3257202)
As Poz once noted, Bonds (and now Pujols) have crossed the line that they are now (on occasion) too good to be allowed to hit.

Didn't someone run the numbers and show that if Pujols was IBB'ed every time up, the Cardinals would score more runs than they do?

Imagine a rule in hockey (or basketball) where the defense gets to choose one player on the offense that is not allowed to be in the offensive zone (say Ovechkin). And the penalty for that is that the defense has two players removed from their defending zone. In effect, a 4-3 powerplay, but without the opposing team's best shooter.

The basketball or hockey equivalent to the "no IBB" rule" would be a rule requiring defenses to treat every player on the offensive side equally - no double-teaming.
   22. The District Attorney Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:43 PM (#3257205)
A lot of different issues are conflated here.

1. In the All-Star Game specifically, there's the argument that the IBB is contrary to the spirit of the game, which is essentially (although not entirely!) an exhibition game, so you want everyone to bget the opportunity to show off their skills.

2. In the All-Star Game specifically, there's the argument that the IBB is bad strategy, because there's always an All-Star up next.

3. There's the argument that the IBB shouldn't be used often because it's normally a bad strategy, except in very specific situations.

4. There's the argument that, regardless of whether it's a good strategy or not, you find the practice aesthetically displeasing and dislike it. You understand it, and wouldn't want the game's incentives changed to curtail it. But it still drives you nuts.

5. Finally, there's the argument that it's so aesthetically displeasing that the game's incentives should be changed to curtail it.

People who have been "arguing against the IBB", especially if they've done so in the last couple of days, may have been arguing any one or combination of these points. TFA does an awful job of mixing them all together and confusing the issues. I think Poz, for instance, believes #1, 3 and 4. He has not, AFAIK, endorsed #5. James and Tango probably concur on #3, and certainly believe #5.

As mentioned, James has both made suggestions to curtail the IBB, and he's also suggested regulating bat sizes in order to have a more contact-oriented game. I think these are also two essentially different issues. I think the main objection for most people in the #5 camp is that the IBB prevents us from getting to see the best hitters hit. That's different than a statement about what's the aesthetically best style of baseball in general; it's basically a statement about the "stars", I think. (In other words, if only eighth-place hitters batting in front of pitchers ever got IBBed, I think hardly anyone would be in the #5 camp. Besides Matt Kemp, I mean.)

EDIT: Heh, my edit ended up quite similar to post #23.
   23. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3257221)
probably most people are objecting to the idea that we don't get to see the great hitters hit, rather than objecting to walks as an aspect of baseball.

This is exactly what people are objecting to. People don't complain about the #8 hitter in the the NL being IBB'ed so that they can pitch to the pitcher, even though this probably gives the defense a greater advantage than walking Pujols to pitch to whomever's batting behind him would.

They want to see Pujols swing the bat. Which, when you think about it, seems rather odd, to suggest changing one of the fundamental rules of the game to suit one player.
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:51 PM (#3257222)
"Outlawing" the IBB is perennially suggested, and would be pointless. What would it constitute, outlawing catchers from moving outside the catcher's box while receiving a pitch? Okay, then the pitcher will throw four pitches WAAAAAAAY outside, in order to intentionally walk the batter.

It's like the idea of outlawing the annoying fouls at the end of basketball games. What constitutes "the end"? Are referees going to look at every foul to see whether it should be categorized as "intentional and annoying"? Would this rule basically be "it is not possible to commit a foul in the last two minutes of a game except when the player with the ball is in the act of shooting"?

As Poz once noted, Bonds (and now Pujols) have crossed the line that they are now (on occasion) too good to be allowed to hit.

Didn't someone run the numbers and show that if Pujols was IBB'ed every time up, the Cardinals would score more runs than they do?


Hence the "(on occasion)".
   25. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:52 PM (#3257224)
You said: "every time up"
I said: "on occasion"

If you walk someone every time up (including with bases empty), it's a net positive for the offense. And it's not particularly close. That's not the issue.

***

The double-teaming at least allows the offended player to still be in the play. In any case, hockey, basketball, soccer, and football are not 1-on-1 sports. Baseball is all about the batter/pitcher matchup.
   26. lar @ wezen-ball Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3257226)
What I still don't get, though, is how any of this amounts to anything more than arguing about the aesthetics of the game, how it looks to us fans. And arguing by analogy isn't enough. The IBB is a less-than-pleasing option that, for some players, tends to get used a little too much. I completely understand that and agree with it. But I don't see how it's a true deficiency to the game of baseball - at least, not a grand enough deficiency to change the rules.

The only rule change that I can imagine being in support of is the one that I suggested over at Tango's blog (and re-posted in the article above): making the 4-pitch walk into a "pitched ball balk (PBB)". Like the two-strike foul bunt, it is introduced in only a limited case that is perfectly clear to all players and the enforced penalty is one that all pitchers and runners are already used to. I would hope to allow the umpire to use his discretion when awarding the PBB (like he does on an HBP), but that introduces a lot of issues.

But it just seems like a solution to an aesthetic problem and not a gameplay problem, and I don't think I like that.
   27. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3257228)
It's like the idea of outlawing the annoying fouls at the end of basketball games. What constitutes "the end"? Are referees going to look at every foul to see whether it should be categorized as "intentional and annoying"? Would this rule basically be "it is not possible to commit a foul in the last two minutes of a game except when the player with the ball is in the act of shooting"?

You'd change it the same way people are suggesting changing the IBB rule - increase the penalties.

Simply allow the fouled team to get the ball back after they take their shots, and the intentional fouling would stop.
   28. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3257229)
You said: "every time up"
I said: "on occasion"


So it boils down to: "I want teams to be forced to pitch to Pujols, because I like watching Pujols hit". I don't know if that's enough to force a rules change.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3257230)
I think the solution is to let the hitter decline a walk (or HBP), just like in football you can decline a penalty.


This is the winner for me.

Any answer that involves making baseball's rules significantly more complicated (such as #14) is stupid.
   30. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 17, 2009 at 02:58 PM (#3257231)
After all fouls, throughout the game?
   31. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:01 PM (#3257235)
Any answer that involves making baseball's rules significantly more complicated (such as #14) is stupid.


I'm pretty sure that post #14 was just a roundabout way for BL to take a shot at Billy Beane and the A's, because I don't believe he is actually that stupid.
   32. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:02 PM (#3257236)
Which, when you think about it, seems rather odd, to suggest changing one of the fundamental rules of the game to suit one player.


Thanks, I've thought about it. The fundamental PURPOSE of the game is for the pitcher to throw to the batter (and for the batter to swing at pitches in reach). The RULE to satisfy this purpose is the 4-3 ball-strike rule.

If the rule breaks down at the extremes (Pujols/Bonds, and perhaps Cust as BL brought up), then the question is if you can change the rule, while maintaining the objective.

The historical result is that baseball is an extremely exciting sport because of the "game within the game" that the 12 ball-strike counts offer for all different combinations of pitchers/batters. The 3-0 count is already a very boring count (8% swings, plenty of down-the-middle pitches not being swung at). Altering the rule to limit the 4-0 count in any way may have the unintended consequence of making the 3-0 count even duller than it is now. It's on this basis that the argument should be against the rule change.

Imagine if we always had the "double-walk" rule. Fans might complain that hitters are always taking on 3-0 because they know that on 4-0 the batter may decline the walk, and reset the count, since a ball call will now start to be an excessive penalty. The pitcher doesn't want to go to 4 balls a second time, especially with men on base. What would fans do? They would suggest that the double-walk rule be abolished. But, as is the wont: most would favor no rule changes because of the consequences that may follow.

That is, the rule most preferred is the existing rule, whichever of the two rules it happens to be. Better with the devil you know.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:03 PM (#3257237)
I'm pretty sure that post #14 was just a roundabout way for BL to take a shot at Billy Beane and the A's,


That makes it even stupider
   34. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:03 PM (#3257238)
They absolutely make the game less exciting, unless you think commercials are exciting. I can't watch basketball primarily because of the intentional fouling. It makes the endings of games longer than they need to be.


It does make the games a bit longer. But all the commercials have nothing to do with fouls -- they are because at the highest levels of basketball teams have a virtually unlimited number of timeouts. (Note: this does not apply to teams coached by Vinny Del Negro.) I would be happy to see the number of timeouts reduced, but I understand the economics involved, and know there is basically no chance of that.

We don't turn these games off because the team that is behind has a reasonable chance of coming back from an 8 point deficit with 1:30 left. If an offensive team can decline the foul, then you probably just shut off the game at this point. I mean, there still is the chance of a Reggie Miller style comeback, but the odds of that are just not very good.

And there's already a mechanism to prevent teams from running out the clock - it's called the shot clock.


There is a big difference between being able to run 20 seconds (NBA)/30 seconds (NCAA) off the clock at the end of the game, and being able to only run 1-5 seconds off the clock. If NCAA teams could decline fouls, you would see situations where the team that is behind at the end of the game only gets 2 chances with the ball in the last minute. This makes an 8 point deficit pretty much insurmountable.

......

Sorry about the brief hijack. As for the IBB, I can take it our leave it. It occasionally diminishes my enjoyment of a particular part of the game, but it is not that big of a deal.
   35. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3257244)
After all fouls, throughout the game?

Sure, why not? Basketball is supposed to be a non-contact sport.

I know I'm betraying my biases here - I like baseball, and don't like basketball. Therefore I'm reflexively against changing baseball and for changing basketball. But intentional fouls are a much bigger part of basketball than intentional walks are a part of baseball, so to me, that seems like something more deserving of attention.
   36. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:09 PM (#3257245)
So it boils down to: "I want teams to be forced to pitch to Pujols, because I like watching Pujols hit".


You say this as if it's a bad thing.

I also like watching Mario Lemieux play, without Adam Graves whacking his stick on Lemieux's wrists. I like watching Mike Bossy setup in the slot, without being cross-checked on his back.

And I love watching Barry Bonds step up to the plate, WITH a bat in his hands.

Anything that takes away from this (the penalty doesn't do enough to dissaude such tactics) is bad. That it affects the players we most care about is reason enough.
   37. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:10 PM (#3257247)
Anything that takes away from this (the penalty doesn't do enough to dissaude such tactics) is bad. That it affects the players we most care about is reason enough.

Not to me. I don't watch sports to see individual performances. Maybe this is where the disconnect is.
   38. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:11 PM (#3257250)
We don't turn these games off because the team that is behind has a reasonable chance of coming back from an 8 point deficit with 1:30 left.

I turn them off, because watching guys attempt free throws is boring.
   39. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:16 PM (#3257254)
I'm all for the option to decline a no-strike walk. But, you need the additional penalty, otherwise the pitcher might throw 12-straight balls and the batter continues to decline all walks.

People who grew up in the 80s probably remember all the booing from the fans when a pitcher would try to pickoff a runner with 4 or 5 tries in the same at bat. At some point, it goes from "exciting" to "give up already". Without a give-up disincentive, the pitcher will keep throwing balls to the batter.

One reader on my blog suggested something that he took back, but that I like: on a no-strike walk, the batter on deck goes to first base, and the batter remains at the plate for his second-serve.

Yes, yes, I know: all rule changes are stupid when it comes to baseball. Consider it said.
   40. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:21 PM (#3257260)
People who grew up in the 80s probably remember all the booing from the fans when a pitcher would try to pickoff a runner with 4 or 5 tries in the same at bat.

I remember the booing was strictly when the home team was at bat. The fans didn't seem to mind when one of their pitchers did it.
   41. Crashburn Alley Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3257261)
One reader on my blog suggested something that he took back, but that I like: on a no-strike walk, the batter on deck goes to first base, and the batter remains at the plate for his second-serve.


Out of all the ideas in this thread, I like this one the most, but I think it can be improved. Instead of it being an on-deck batter, it is any player on the bench that the manager chooses. Example: Pitcher walks Ryan Howard on four straight pitches. Charlie Manuel sends out Eric Bruntlett to first base.

Even better is that the "pinch-runner" can go right back on the bench and doesn't have to be put in the lineup.

Thoughts?
   42. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3257264)
One reader on my blog suggested something that he took back, but that I like: on a no-strike walk, the batter on deck goes to first base, and the batter remains at the plate for his second-serve.


You would support a rule that would change the batting order in the middle of a game? It's not like that would fundamentally change the game or anything. Besides, then you would just 4-pitch walk the guy ahead of Pujols.
   43. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:26 PM (#3257268)
Besides, then you would just 4-pitch walk the guy ahead of Pujols.


The offense gets to choose.

You would support a rule that would change the batting order in the middle of a game?


It's like batting out of turn, but no one caught it.

Even better is that the "pinch-runner" can go right back on the bench and doesn't have to be put in the lineup.


Yes, that was another of the side suggestions.
   44. Dr Love Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:27 PM (#3257269)
I'm all for the option to decline a no-strike walk. But, you need the additional penalty, otherwise the pitcher might throw 12-straight balls and the batter continues to decline all walks.


Throwing 12 pitches and having a 0-0 count to show for it is something. And if there's a runner on second but not third you're giving him a lot of opportunities to steal.
   45. JRVJ (formerly Delta Socrates) Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3257276)
Ok, I was busy and can only get involved in this now.

IThe implicit intent of IBBs is not to pitch to the batter which is batting at the time. OCASSIONALLY, IBBs are ALSO a way to give a relief pitcher more time to warm up.

My beef with the IBB is that it seems silly to have a pitcher throw 4 intentional balls to a catcher who has called an IBB, especially when an IBB could be decreed immediately if 1 ball is tossed to a catcher who has called an IBB.

Phrased differently, if an opposing team is going to IBB Bonds or Pujols, it's boring and inefficient that this entails throwing 4 balls outside the zone to a standing catcher with an upraised arm.

Assuming that something like what I would want (that IBBs become automatic if a catcher has called for an IBB and at least one pitch is thrown as a ball) is approved, then disguised IBBs can still be achieved as described by Cuddyer in 39, so as to allow a reliever to warm up.

The rule change that I would like to see is very small, doesn't really change the incentives of the game (as mentioned by the DA on 22) and might just help make baseball games a bit faster.

What's wrong with that? (well, other than the usual BTF snarkiness and general old-time curmudgeoness).
   46. hokieneer Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:33 PM (#3257279)
The purpose of the walk rule is to force the pitcher to throw to the strike zone. It's not intended to be used as a weapon by the defense.

I don't see it as a weapon, in the same sense. No matter how the walk is issued or to whom it was issued to, it's still a penalty on the defense and reward for the offensive team. A weapon for the defense would imply there is little to no negative consequences for a IBB, and that's not the case.

It's the equivalent of a CB getting burnt but still reaching out and interfering with the WR so the WR doesn't go for 6. Yeah it's a penalty on the defense and the offense gets rewarded with a 1st at the spot, but the defense is willing to take that small penalty as opposed to giving up 6. I think this allows fore more strategy, lose one battle in hopes it sets you up to win a bigger battle, or multiple battles, later on.
   47. lar @ wezen-ball Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3257280)
(the penalty doesn't do enough to dissaude such tactics)


I don't see that as a fault of the rule, though. It's a fault of the offensive team for not making full advantage of their opportunity. We all seem to agree that a free baserunner via unintentional walk is a good thing, so shouldn't it be the onus of the offense to use that advantage? Why change the rule when the complaint is against the teams on the field?

That it affects the players we most care about is reason enough.


I think this is the heart of the argument. Any other reasons given are just justifications for this. (it's #5 in the DA's post [#22] above - I agree completely with that post, btw, and I tried to move through those points in the article. Sometimes it just helps to be explicit, though). I still am unconvinced that aesthetics are any reason to alter the rules of a game, especially as drastically as some of the suggestions (two consecutive at-bats? placing batters on base out of order?)
   48. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3257282)
Throwing 12 pitches and having a 0-0 count to show for it is something. And if there's a runner on second but not third you're giving him a lot of opportunities to steal.


Something very boring. The objective is for the batter/pitcher matchup to happen, not to defer it indefinitely.

And, no, you would not want to steal third under these circumstances, especially with 2 outs.
   49. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3257285)
OK, letting basketball teams decline a foul is a good idea. So really, the idea of outlawing the intentional walk is a uniquely pointless and futile idea with no good parallels in other sports.
   50. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3257286)
The Nats are the gift that keeps on giving. Who pulled that one off?


Tyler Clippard.

Daniel Cabrera hadn't even done that in his short time with the Nats, and it seemed like he had done every possible bad act a pitcher could do short of involuntarily urinate on the rosin bag.
   51. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:37 PM (#3257289)
I don't see that as a fault of the rule, though. It's a fault of the offensive team for not making full advantage of their opportunity.

That's sort of my thinking. If the 2003 Giants or the 2009 Cardinals can't take advantage of the fact that Bonds and Pujols are always on base, that's their problem, not the league's.
   52. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3257290)
I remember the booing was strictly when the home team was at bat. The fans didn't seem to mind when one of their pitchers did it.


I'm usually not excitable at all during games, but I will scream at the home pitcher to quit f'ing around and play some baseball. I HATE pitchers throwing repeatedly to first, to the point that if a genie offered me three wishes, one of them might be 'have baseball implement Bill James' rule suggestion that you only get to unsuccessfully throw to a base twice per inning, and any unsuccessful attempt after that counts as a ball for the hitter'.

I can perceive no workable way to legislate intentional walks away, though I do like the double-walk idea. I will say that baseball appears to be the only major sport where the very best players (hitters) are almost never permitted to be involved when the game is on the line. That seems intuitively like a very serious problem to me.
   53. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:40 PM (#3257291)
No matter how the walk is issued or to whom it was issued to, it's still a penalty on the defense and reward for the offensive team.


This is untrue. There are MANY occasions where the IBB benefits the defense more than the offense. The Book has a long list of such occasions. And on my site, I detailed every game state in which it is preferred to walk Bonds. The identity of the batter is paramount.

***

Wasn't there a time when Pass Interference was less strict that it was now, so that it would sometimes be preferable for the defender to be all over the receiver, on the hope that the call would not be made, and if it was, then it would only be 10 yards?
   54. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3257296)
Wasn't there a time when Pass Interference was less strict that it was now, so that it would sometimes be preferable for the defender to be all over the receiver, on the hope that the call would not be made, and if it was, then it would only be 10 yards?


In college, it is a 15 yard penalty and automatic 1st down regardless of where it occurs. In the NFL it is spot of the foul and automatic 1st down. So in college, if you are more than 15 yards downfield, you are better off interfering if you can't defend the pass.
   55. Dr Love Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:43 PM (#3257297)
Something very boring.


Boring has never stopped baseball before.

The objective is for the batter/pitcher matchup to happen, not to defer it indefinitely.


Sure, but a 12 pitch AB with a 0-0 count is not nothing.

And, no, you would not want to steal third under these circumstances, especially with 2 outs.


That hasn't stopped people before.
   56. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3257298)
I can perceive no workable way to legislate intentional walks away, though I do like the double-walk idea. I will say that baseball appears to be the only major sport where the very best players (hitters) are almost never permitted to be involved when the game is on the line. That seems intuitively like a very serious problem to me.


Remember, we are talking about no-strike walks (regardless of intent).

And, as I said, had the double-walk rule always have been in place, the same people would be decrying abolishing the double-walk rule.
   57. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3257299)
I HATE pitchers throwing repeatedly to first, to the point that if a genie offered me three wishes, one of them might be 'have baseball implement Bill James' rule suggestion that you only get to unsuccessfully throw to a base twice per inning, and any unsuccessful attempt after that counts as a ball for the hitter'.

I haven't noticed this to be much of an issue. It's pretty rare that a pitcher will throw over more than twice in an at-bat. Every time the pitcher throws over, he risks throwing the ball away, and you don't want to show your best pickoff move to a good baserunner too many times anyway.
   58. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:47 PM (#3257301)
Generally pitchers don't use pickoff moves when they throw to first repeatedly. They're just doing it to 'keep the runner close', and in my cases they do it because they don't really want to pitch just yet. It's a waste of time.
   59. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3257303)
And, as I said, had the double-walk rule always have been in place, the same people would be decrying abolishing the double-walk rule.


Wow, when did you learn to read minds? Can you teach me?
   60. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:52 PM (#3257309)
The pickoff issue happened in the go-go 80s. It is not an issue now. If runs per game goes down to 4.3 or under, it will start to become an issue as the gazelles will take over.
   61. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:54 PM (#3257312)
Remember, we are talking about no-strike walks (regardless of intent).


Baseball is one of the slowest sports to move in creating rule changes. Pujols is a reason why they may have to do something. The IBB of a regular is now past an odd eccentricity to a strategic element of the game.

I don't think the NBA or the NCAA is going to do anything about late game fouling. Whether people here like it or not, it accomplishes something for basketball:

(1) Restricts stalling tactics
(2) Provides the only means where a defense can stop the clock and extend the game.
(3) BECAUSE OF NUMBER 2, VIEWERS WILL KEEP WATCHING UNTIL THE END OF THE GAME.

Baseball has the "it ain't over til its over" quality, so they can move slower b/c the effects on viewership are less severe.

The NBA is likely to do something about fouls though. End of the game fouls they can tolerate. The Hack-a-Shaq was cute and only mildly annoying when it happened in the middle of games. The Smite-a-Dwight (tip of the cap to Rifken for the term) shows that its becoming a repetative strategic element to the game.

Basketball fans don't want a free throw shooting contest, so basketball is likely to change the game.

Likewise, most baseball fans don't want that three true outcome garbage. Its infecting the game too much, now. MLB would be better off addressing it at its worse now, then dealing with a further devolution of the game.
   62. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:56 PM (#3257313)
Wow, when did you learn to read minds? Can you teach me?


Look at every rule change: there's always this huge outcry, there's always the sky is falling, and then 10 years later, the opposition is gone.

Except for the dual-ruled DH, but that's because they didn't go all-in. Had they gone to the DH for both leagues, everyone born in the 60s or later would not imagine MLB with the pitcher batting.

Can you tell me a rule that's at least 10 years old that you wish would revert back to its original rule? Consider yourself taught how to read minds.
   63. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3257317)
Look at every rule change: there's always this huge outcry, there's always the sky is falling, and then 10 years later, the opposition is gone.


You're probably right in this case, you still shouldn't pretend that you can read minds.


As to rule changes in general. I have to see a compelling reason to make a change before supporting one. Especially one like this where most of the suggestions are fundamental changes to the game. I see no need for a change regarding IBB's so I don't support changing the rules.
   64. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 03:59 PM (#3257318)
The pickoff issue happened in the go-go 80s. It is not an issue now. If runs per game goes down to 4.3 or under, it will start to become an issue as the gazelles will take over.

Yes, whatever they did, be it look the other way on drugs, doctor the ball, build little tiny stadiums has moved the games from the gazelles to the goofy softball sloths. Drug testing is moving things back a little bit, but there are still too many custs left in the game.

As for the "its an aesthetics argument." That is moot. All rule changes, equipment limitations, etc. are designed to have the game occur in a certain manner. MLB could implement drug testing solely for aesthetics. A good number of people that want to increase pitcher workloads argue it just because they like the aesthetics of a lot of pinch hitters.

In this case, it is aesthetics, and it has the added benefit of not creating a health concern for any other persons.
   65. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3257322)
Likewise, most baseball fans don't want that three true outcome garbage. Its infecting the game too much, now. MLB would be better off addressing it at its worse now, then dealing with a further devolution of the game.

The easiest and simplest way to do this is to decrease the frequency of home runs. Create rules minimizing bat width (illegalizing whip-handled bats). Un-juice the balls. Enforce existing rules about minimum distance to walls (get rid of bandbox stadia).

When home runs go down, so does the penalty for pitching to the game's best hitters, and intentional walks will go down, too.
   66. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:03 PM (#3257323)
Can you tell me a rule that's at least 10 years old that you wish would revert back to its original rule?

In professional basketball: I like the 3 to make 2 penalty.

In professional baseball: whatever happened that allowed maple bats to come into the game.
   67. Randy Jones Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:04 PM (#3257325)
Likewise, most baseball fans don't want that three true outcome garbage. Its infecting the game too much, now. MLB would be better off addressing it at its worse now, then dealing with a further devolution of the game.


So you can read minds too? I love the TTO "garbage". I love HR's and strike outs. I watched baseball in the 80's and early 90's, but it was far from my favorite sport to watch. Prior to the strike I preferred watching football or hockey. Baseball in the 70's and 80's sucked and if that style ever comes back I will almost certainly watch a whole hell of a lot less baseball.
   68. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3257327)
The easiest and simplest way to do this is to decrease the frequency of home runs. Create rules minimizing bat width (illegalizing whip-handled bats). Un-juice the balls. Enforce existing rules about minimum distance to walls (get rid of bandbox stadia).

When home runs go down, so does the penalty for pitching to the game's best hitters, and intentional walks will go down, too.


That is very possible and very sound reasoning. IN fact, I think MLB may have done some of these things already. Whatever juice was on the balls, I would bet the eliminated it. Whatever juice is on the players, they are trying to eliminate it.

I bet they are going to deal with the bats as a seperate safety related issue. As for the walls, I don't think the owners are going to require capital improvements on the new stadia. We have to live with the Juicebox in Houston and New Yankee stadium. Maybe they will let them start using humidors like Colorado.
   69. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3257328)
Another "sky is falling" rule change is what they did to the international baseball for extra innings. I love it.

While fans may say they want the game to keep going until there's a winner, in reality fans walk out the ballpark in tied, extra inning games (excluding playoffs, natch) to the point that you could be in a ballpark in the 17th inning, and less than half the fans are still there. Fans have voted with their feet, which is more real than their mouths.

Shootouts in hockey and soccer, a far bigger bastardization to their sports than putting a runner on 2B to start the 11th inning, had their naysayers too. The 1994 Olympics hockey changed all that. Now, those who hate the shootouts are in the minority.

Any tweak to baseball rules is met with fierce resistance, compared to what happens in the other sports.
   70. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:08 PM (#3257330)
How many Jack Cust-like players are there in baseball, anyway?
   71. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:08 PM (#3257331)
Baseball in the 70's and 80's sucked and if that style ever comes back I will almost certainly watch a whole hell of a lot less baseball.

I don't want the game to go back to astroturf and pullover jerseys and Vince Coleman being considered a good player and lots of 1-0 games, but I do think that the current game could be calmed down some. It's already down from the crazy late '90s (which is a good thing).

Honestly, I think the game had a really good balance in the early 90s, right before the '93 power surge. If you look at rosters from that time, you have a good mix of talent. Cecil Fielder had a place in the game, but he wasn't considered the ideal player.
   72. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:11 PM (#3257336)
Shootouts in hockey and soccer, a far bigger bastardization to their sports than putting a runner on 2B to start the 11th inning, had their naysayers too. The 1994 Olympics hockey changed all that. Now, those who hate the shootouts are in the minority.

I would hate the shootouts if the shootout loser didn't get a point in the standings. I would definitely hate shootouts if they tried to implement them in playoff hockey. As it stands, meh.
   73. cndb41a Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:12 PM (#3257339)
"I think the intentional walk is just fine, but they need to dispense with requiring the pitcher to actually throw all four pitches. Just allow the manager to put up four fingers and the hitter takes his base.

As it stands, it's a waste of time and can throw the pitcher out of sync."


Simple fix here. Have the pitcher go to his mouth 4 times in a row while on the mound = 4 balls. Can be done in 5 seconds.
   74. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:13 PM (#3257340)
Fans have voted with their feet, which is more real than their mouths.
No they haven't. They don't pay per inning, the players don't get paid per inning. If they weren't showing up because the game isn't ending soon enough, that would be one thing, but they're just leaving early. It's not costing the team money or fans.
   75. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3257341)
The easiest way to change the run environment is to control the size of the strike zone.

Interestingly, because it is "invisible", no one makes a big deal out of this change (circa 2000). And the strike zone is the most fundamental of all the rules there is.
   76. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3257343)
I will say that baseball appears to be the only major sport where the very best players (hitters) are almost never permitted to be involved when the game is on the line. That seems intuitively like a very serious problem to me.


Pujols is "permitted to be involved when the game is on the line" plenty. So far this season, he's had 66 AB in 111 PAs with runners in scoring position, 39 AB in 51 PAs in Late & Close situations, and 93 AB in 115 PAs in tie games. What's far more likely to keep Pujols from batting in any particular situation is the fact that he's only allowed to come to the plate once every 9 Cardinal plate appearances.

And this gets to the heart of what's different about baseball than about football or basketball or hockey or soccer. In baseball, the defensive team has the ball and controls play. The intentional walk rule is entirely consistent with this. The PITCHER is the person on a baseball field who dictates what happens, who has primary control over what happens. A pitcher pitching around a batter is no different than a quarterback not passing to the side of the field covered by the other team's great shut-down cornerback. It's up to the batting team to react to that.

The purpose of the walk rule is to force the pitcher to throw to the strike zone. It's not intended to be used as a weapon by the defense.


I won't pretend to read the mind of the inventor of the walk rule, but it absolutely is, and should be, a "weapon by the defense" in the same way that the curve ball, the relief pitcher, and the 5-man infield are "weapons" of the defense. It is the defense that controls the action of baseball. To some extent, that's the fundamental essence of the game.
   77. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3257344)
Any tweak to baseball rules is met with fierce resistance, compared to what happens in the other sports.

That is definately true.

It's already down from the crazy late '90s (which is a good thing).

Absolutely, we just have the afterbirth of the late '90s, which includes the continued place of the Cust and the Pujols IBB.

The Cust will become extinct. The game is already passing him by. I agree with you that when the HR is calmed, it will also create a more realistic actual value of an Adam Dunn style player, too. There will still be a place, but its a totally different actual output of value.
   78. Craig in MN Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3257354)
Can you tell me a rule that's at least 10 years old that you wish would revert back to its original rule?

How old is "This time it counts?" It's not going to look any better in 5 years.
   79. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3257355)
The easiest way to change the run environment is to control the size of the strike zone.

Interestingly, because it is "invisible", no one makes a big deal out of this change (circa 2000). And the strike zone is the most fundamental of all the rules there is.


I agree. In a related thought I almost answered-- "mound height" --- to your earlier question, but then thought about safety aspects of potentially increasing the velocity or visibility of a pitched ball.

I have wondered if questec hasn't also altered the run environment a bit. Baseball evolved to how the strike zone was being called, with players having power in those amorphous zones. Those players then had trouble with the rulebook zone in some areas.

Baseball knows it has some boisterous and crybaby fans. They have always tried to tweek their game pretty invisibly. Then only the real hard core people scream and yell.

The IBB seems like something that should be attacked more head on. Give the ump some descretion or guidelines on tossing people and put that threat out there.
   80. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:22 PM (#3257358)
There will still be a place, but its a totally different actual output of value.

So, then, not extinct. So there's hope for all these hordes of Jack Custs out there. Good for them.
   81. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3257359)
You're probably right in this case, you still shouldn't pretend that you can read minds.


I pretend that I do when I know that I can. If I'm wrong, I'll retract it.

I would definitely hate shootouts if they tried to implement them in playoff hockey.


No question. No one leaves the arena in double-OT. And neither does anyone leave a playoff game in the 14th inning. Playoffs have their own rules.

No they haven't.


If someone leaves in the middle of a movie, the fan has voted that he doesn't like the movie well enough to know how it turns out. And they don't care if other fans follow suit. Or if they turn off the projector.

If a fan leaves in the 14th inning, he has decided that his time is better spent going to sleep. But, somehow, are you suggesting that that same fan that leaves early is insisting that the players keep playing?
   82. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:29 PM (#3257369)
Why are IBB and runs inversely correlated? I found this surprising. I intuitively thought that reducing scoring (with bigger parks, slower bats, or a bigger strike zone) would reduce IBB. But then I looked at NL data going back to 1955 (the first year IBB results are available in baseball-reference.com). Obviously my intuition is very wrong. What am I missing here?

Edit:

I wasn't the only one who thinks more runs = more IBB, although I ought to check the trend with HR specifically. I imagine it will be the same.

When home runs go down, so does the penalty for pitching to the game's best hitters, and intentional walks will go down, too.
   83. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3257370)
What do you suggest for extra-inning games, Tango?

I've never left the ballpark during an extra-inning game, but I have turned the TV off and gone to bed. I can't think of an alternative that I'd think was superior to extra innings, though.
   84. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3257371)
How old is "This time it counts?"


Was there a single fan that thought the reasoning made any sense?

I don't have any problem with awarding home field of a game 7 that comes along once every 5 years, to the All-Star winner, any more than a flip of the coin, alternating years, or best record, etc. This "rule change" is nothing in reality. You can change the rule every 5 years, and no one will notice.

It's just an accounting rule, not a playability rule.

20 years ago, in a tied game in the 3rd period of the Stanley Cup, the power went out in Boston. Rather than resume the game at that point, the bylaws had it that the game restarts at the end of the series (i.e., Boston gets the home game back at the end). Or some such. You could make up any rule, and it doesn't affect the way the game is played.

I'm talking about game rules, not accounting-type rules.
   85. Tango Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:35 PM (#3257376)
What do you suggest for extra-inning games, Tango?

I've never left the ballpark during an extra-inning game, but I have turned the TV off and gone to bed. I can't think of an alternative that I'd think was superior to extra innings, though.


You can't think of an alternative that would keep you glued to your TV, and at the same time, make you feel you are getting your money's worth in person?

I have no problem with what happens with the international rules. Putting a runner on 2B increases the run environment substantially enough (doubles the number of runs scored) to bring an end to the game quicker. Which, of course, is what you want, otherwise you wouldn't have turned off the TV to begin with.

Non-playoff games, naturally.
   86. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:35 PM (#3257377)
Obviously my intuition is very wrong. What am I missing here?

Here is my presumption as to a reason.
In low run scoring environments, a defensive team optimizing the batter/pitcher matchup can have more value.

I presume, but Tango has the numbers, that on offense:

1 - run strategies increase the chance of scoring 1 run, but decrease the amount of average run output.

Likewise on defense, no run strategies increase the chance of shutting the other team out, but increase the total number of runs that are scored.

Close and late in a low run environment, you want to increase the chance of 0 runs and are willing to take the risk of more runs. You are more likely to walk the number 6 hitter to pitch to a defense-first middle of the diamond player hitting 7th (think of all the 7 hitting C and 8 hitting SS in the low run days) then you are today.

If that number 7 hitter can hit a jimmy-jack on you, you aren't likely to walk number 6, unless he is Pujols.
   87. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:36 PM (#3257378)
   88. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:38 PM (#3257381)
BL,

Yea, that is reasonable. I just had never thought of it this way. Perhaps it was obvious to everyone else.

But this suggests that if we want fewer IBB's, we don't get there by making runs or HR's tougher to come by.
   89. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:39 PM (#3257382)
Why are IBB and runs inversely correlated? I found this surprising. I intuitively thought that reducing scoring (with bigger parks, slower bats, or a bigger strike zone) would reduce IBB. But then I looked at NL data going back to 1955 (the first year IBB results are available in baseball-reference.com). Obviously my intuition is very wrong. What am I missing here?


Two guesses off the top of my head:

1. Lower scoring = each run is more precious, which motivates managers even more to avoid the best hitter in a lineup.

2. Lower scoring = more weak hitters in a given lineup, which probably sets up more situations where guys OTHER than Pujols/Bonds/Williams/Ruth get intentionally walked, because the 610 OPS shortstop is coming up next or whatever.

I could be dead wrong on both of these; just my initial speculative reaction.
   90. Shock Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:39 PM (#3257383)
Except for the dual-ruled DH, but that's because they didn't go all-in. Had they gone to the DH for both leagues, everyone born in the 60s or later would not imagine MLB with the pitcher batting.


Exactly.

It's not a coincidence that the majority of NL fans think the DH is ruining baseball, and the majority of AL fans like it.

Baseball is different from the other sports because of the "sanctity of the numbers." People know that when you change rules you change contexts, and then the statistics are no longer comperable. Suddenly it's easier/harder to reach 500 HR or 300 W and we don't like that. The same people that make fun of stat-geeks for their VORPies and their UZRers will stop at nothing to prevent rule changes from ruining their precious records.

Personally, I like changes. Changes that make the game more fun, or more interesting to watch, have to be considered. I also wish the all-star game was used to experiment with these changes. I would have watched the ASG if they were trying Backlasher's (2) in post 14. Why not?
   91. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:44 PM (#3257387)
You can't think of an alternative that would keep you glued to your TV, and at the same time, make you feel you are getting your money's worth in person?

I never feel like I'm not getting my money's worth in an extra-innings game. I like watching extra innings. The longer it goes, the more interesting it gets.

Putting a runner on 2B increases the run environment substantially enough (doubles the number of runs scored) to bring an end to the game quicker. Which, of course, is what you want, otherwise you wouldn't have turned off the TV to begin with.

I don't want the game to end quicker - I want it to end earlier. If I get to make any rules change to suit my own selfish needs (ignoring all other considerations), I start the game at 5 P.M. rather than 7.
   92. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3257390)
The extra-inning games would be a lot more palatable if we stopped the hitters from stepping out of the box and screwing around after every pitch, the obsessive pitching changes in the late innings of close games, and kept the damned games moving.
   93. HCO Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3257391)
Can you tell me a rule that's at least 10 years old that you wish would revert back to its original rule?

Interleague.
   94. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:48 PM (#3257392)
But this suggests that if we want fewer IBB's, we don't get there by making runs or HR's tougher to come by.

But the idea isn't to reduce all IBBs - it's to reduce Pujols's IBBs specifically. Like I said before, nobody cares that the #8 hitting shortstop is IBBed to get to the pitcher. And if Pujols isn't as likely to hit one over the wall, then pitchers will be less likely to pitch around Pujols.
   95. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:49 PM (#3257394)
Personally, I like changes. Changes that make the game more fun, or more interesting to watch, have to be considered.

I'm the opposite - my instinct is that if something works well enough already (and baseball works well enough, IMHO), then don't tinker with it.

Nothing will ever, ever be perfect.
   96. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:50 PM (#3257395)
The extra-inning games would be a lot more palatable if we stopped the hitters from stepping out of the box and screwing around after every pitch, the obsessive pitching changes in the late innings of close games, and kept the damned games moving.

Yep. If the pace of the game were quicker, a lot of these problems wouldn't be considered problems.
   97. Backlasher Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:50 PM (#3257396)
But this suggests that if we want fewer IBB's, we don't get there by making runs or HR's tougher to come by.

That is true, also. JRE's intuition, your intuition, my posts and tangos posts about the run environment may not do anything for IBBs, or may only work on a subset of IBBs.

I also wish the all-star game was used to experiment with these changes. I would have watched the ASG if they were trying Backlasher's (2) in post 14. Why not?

If you do implement rule changes, I think its a great idea to do it in another test league (as well as a game). Perhaps you could get CAN/AM or some other independent league to give it a try. You want to know the collateral effects.

"Speed up" rules have stuck around for low levels of baseball (e.g. Designated runners for P and C when on base, no pitch IBBs). We know the world doesn't end. Its whether we care about watching these players have to run the bases or the pitchers making the pitches. Obviously it changes the game, and could create more value to certain outcomes, but that is not always bad.
   98. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: July 17, 2009 at 04:54 PM (#3257402)
Like I said before, nobody cares that the #8 hitting shortstop is IBBed to get to the pitcher.


Heh, which is so stupid in a lot of cases. Just saw the #8 hitter in a AA game, who's hitting like .180 with no power over 80 PAs or so, get intentionally walked with a runner on 2nd and two out in the second inning. So very, very stupid. Managers still have no idea of the importance of whether the guy that leads off the inning gets on base. Above all things you want the pitcher leading off the next inning if it's humanly possible!
   99. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: July 17, 2009 at 05:00 PM (#3257412)
But the idea isn't to reduce all IBBs - it's to reduce Pujols's IBBs specifically.


Well, if we want to do this, then isn't the easiest way just to do something like make the strike zone wider for Pujols, or make a rule that says he is not allowed to walk with a man on base, or something like that?

Of course these ideas are intentionally goofy. Perhaps each team could have a designated no walk guy, or something. Also probably pretty goofy. On the other hand, you minimize the collateral damage.
   100. Shock Posted: July 17, 2009 at 05:03 PM (#3257413)

Interleague.


Not a rule change.


I'm the opposite - my instinct is that if something works well enough already (and baseball works well enough, IMHO), then don't tinker with it.


But it's just a game. What's the big deal?
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