What is an Intentional Walk? Why Do Teams Use it?

What is an Intentional Walk

Baseball teams use different strategies to win the game but sometimes these strategies get uncanny. Sometimes teams have to give an initial favour to their opposing team in order to win the game, Intentional Walk is one of the strategies the defensive team uses.

In an Intentional Walk, the defensive team benefits their opposing team by giving their hitter first base. The purpose of an intentional walk is to get the new hitter hoping that he would be easier to deal with. Here is a breakdown of Intentional Walk.

What is the Difference between a Walk and an Intentional Walk?

What is the Difference between a Walk and an Intentional Walk

A Walk:

During the game, the pitcher decides whether they will have an intentional walk or a walk in the game. He can give the hitter an intentional walk if he is annoyed by the hitter’s hits or if the hitter is giving continuous strikeouts in the game.

Intentional Walk:

A decision for an intentional walk is done with some intention of the pitcher. As explained earlier when they want a new battery to perform and they think he might be easier for them to knock out.

When did the New Intentional Walk Rule Change?

Using the older version of Intentional Walks, critics considered it as boring because one had to wait till four pitches to get to their desired intentional walk. So, when did the new intentional walk rule change? 

  • This rule was criticized at certain levels hence it changed in 2017. Now pitchers don’t need to throw intentional balls toward the hitter to attain an Intentional Walk. 
  • Secondly, as soon as the batter knows that the pitch is there, he runs to grab the base.
  • Things get a little bit confusing here for the baseball fans. Former pitcher of baseball Bill James said that the rule change was just to speed up the game.

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Could a Hitter Swing at an Intentional Walk Scenario?

Before 2017 the hitters used to swing during a pitch. But it was so difficult for them to gauge the projection of the ball that they would end up not swinging. Why? Because the pitcher could intentionally throw the ball outside the strike zone.

Could a Hitter Swing at an Intentional Walk Scenario

Could a hitter swing at an intentional walk scenario? No, a hitter can’t swing according to the new rule because it’s hard for both of them to decide. Now it is just fixed for the pitcher to throw outside the zone so that the hitter could benefit from it.

What Made the Previous Intentional Walk Interesting before 2017?

Before 2017 firstly, a batter could swing during the game which was used to make the game interesting for baseball fans. There has been an iconic moment in history that eventually couldn’t happen again due to the change in the rule.

When Miguel Cabrera had an intentional pitch on a single. So, what made the previous Intentional Walk interesting before 2017? When four pitches were used to get a hitter out this would take interesting turns during the game and it was difficult to score out for the batter.

How Do MLB Scorebooks Keep Track of Intentional Walks?

MLB Umpires keep a track of Intentional Walks in the scorebook when they see that the pitcher is signaling him to reach the base while tossing the ball in the dirt. How do MLB scorebooks keep track of Intentional Walks? There is a stat in baseball called Intentional Base on balls which are used to keep a record of intentional walks.

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Why Do Baseball Teams Opt for an Intentional Walk Against the Offence?

As explained at the start baseball teams have to sometimes benefit others to gain benefit for their team. Why do baseball teams opt for an intentional walk against the offence? There are some reasons for it.

  • Pitchers usually do intentional walks from the players who they think are strongest and will score maximum runs.  
  • One can initiate an intentional walk by doing an intentional double play in the game. 
  • Sometimes pitchers use this opportunity to give themselves.

Is there a Max Limit to the Number of Intentional Walks in Baseball?

Usually, a rule has a certain limit to get opted. But in baseball, some rules don’t follow any limits. So, is there a max limit to the number of intentional walks in baseball? No, there is no limit for this particular rule in baseball. It depends on the defensive team how much of an intentional walk they require in the game.

Can a Hitter Refuse an Intentional Walk?

Can a Hitter Refuse an Intentional Walk

It is quite astonishing to know that the hitter lacks authority in the intentional walk. Can a hitter refuse an intentional walk? Whenever a pitcher signals an intentional walk the hitter has to come up with that otherwise he would be called out. Hence the hitter doesn’t have the authority to refuse it.

Do Walks Help a Hitter’s OBP and OPS?

As we know intentional walk is not the choice of the hitter so do walks help a hitter’s OBP and OPS? Hitter doesn’t get any negative effect on OBP and OPS however, it is just recorded in OBP and OPS.

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What is the Record for the Most Intentional Walks in their Major League Baseball Career?

Unfortunately, the players who were considered the best players had to receive intentional walks in the game. In every era of baseball there have been players who were strong enough to lie in this category.

What is the record for the most intentional walks in their Major League Baseball Career? Barry Bonds is the one with 688 intentional walks in his whole career. Pitchers used to fear him. Almost every pitcher feared him and used to give him an intentional walk which didn’t harm his career but he had a very small amount of at-bats during his whole career.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Pitches is an Intentional Walk?

A total of four pitches is required to get an intentional walk in the game. Whenever a manager wants their team to have an intentional walk, he usually initiates at least four pitches in the game. But now as the rule has changed in 2017 there can be an intentional walk without four pitches in the game.

When did MLB stop Pitching Intentional Walks?

MLB had to stop four pitches in baseball because the game gets too slow. It was officially changed on October 2, 2016. It changed in the last game of the regular season in Nationals Park. With the new rule now, there are intentional walks at any time and as many times in baseball games. It has become independent of everything and baseball fans find it boring.

How Many Times did Babe Ruth Walk?

It can be quite astonishing for some baseball fans to know that in the 90s it was not a thing that was taken track of. However, there are many calculated guesses regarding Babe Ruth’s Intentional Walks. One of the most authentic counts is of about 170 intentional walks.

Has anyone Intentionally Walked with bases loaded?

There have been two players in history who tend to get intentional walks while there were baserunners on the base. These players were Seager Joins Barry Bonds and Josh Hamilton. Both of these players had this experience in 1998 and 2008 respectively.

The Bottom Line on What is an Intentional Walk?

On the last note, Baseball sometimes comes up with strange strategies and rules Intentional Walks come under those rules. It gives total authority to the pitcher to make the hitter get a base to gain benefit for their team. A hitter has to obey it and get a base otherwise he can get called out. Pitchers do this so that a strong hitter can be replaced. This rule has been criticized by many however it changed in 2017.

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