Intentionally Walking Ichiro

Situation:

O’s down 1-0 in the top of the 5th inning

2 outs

Runners on second and third

Ichiro coming to the plate

Decision:

Intentionally walk Ichiro

Result:

Chone Figgins works a walk to force in a run

Gutierrez flies out to end the inning

Working it out:

Using the ZiPS rest of season projection for Ichiro, he had the following event break-downs and results:

Out – 63.3%, no runs score / inning ends
1B – 25%, let’s be nice and say two runs score
2B – 3.6%, two runs score
3B – 0.8%, two runs score
HR – 1.0%, three runs score
BB – 6.2%, no runs score / inning continues

So that’s about 0.62 expected runs allowed (chance of each event times the runs that would score if the event occurred), with a 63.3% chance of getting out of it.

Now Figgins, with the bases loaded:

Out – 63.3%, no runs score / inning ends
1B – 18.1%, two runs score
2B – 3.6%, three runs score
3B – 0.6%, three runs score
HR – 0.6%, four runs score
BB – 13.9%, one run scores

That’s 0.65 expected runs allowed, with the same 63.3% chance of getting out of the inning (they have identical .367 projected OBPs).

I’m not looking at other factors, such as the following batters or the change in run expectancies based on things like a Figgins’ single would not just drive in two runs (like an Ichiro single would), but would also result in two runners on base instead of one. Even just looking at the single at bat that Dave Trembley was – Ichiro vs. Figgins – it’s really a wash at best. I don’t care about the manager one way or another, but I’d fire Trembley just for being “scared” of Ichiro. I know he’s ninja-like, but that’s no excuse for a major league manager.

Edit: It would have been really funny if he had walked Griffey in that situation. I would have fired Dave mid-game for that.