Orioles Allowing A Lot Of Free Baserunners

I don’t like the intentional walk. Putting runners on base for the other team is just a bad decision too often to make it a workable longterm strategy, even though teams like to employ it with some frequency. No team AL team more so than the Orioles this year. The Birds’ 23 intentional walks are far and away the most in the Junior Circuit – ahead of the 13 by Toronto and Chicago – and just one behind the Braves and Dodgers for tops in the majors. O’s pitchers have the 9th highest walk rate in the AL at 3.6 per nine, but if you take out intentional walks (for everyone) then their 3.2 BB/9 mark would move up to 7th and their FIP would improve by over a tenth of a run. Let’s see how often the strategy actually paid off this year:

April 6th vs. Tampa Bay:
9th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s up 3-2
Mike Gonzalez walks Jason Bartlett intentionally
Run Expectancy*: up 0.17, Win Expectancy**: up 0.8%
Carl Crawford doubles in two for the walk-off 4-3 win.

* The number of runs the batting team is expected to score in the remainder of the inning.

** The Orioles’ chances of winning the game.

April 10th vs. Toronto:
4th inning, 2 outs, runners on second and third, O’s tied 0-0
David Hernandez walks Travis Snider intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.6%
Hits Jose Molina with a pitch to force in a run before getting a flyout.

April 10th vs. Toronto:
6th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 1-0
David Hernandez walks Travis Snider intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.13, Win Expectancy: down 1.0%
Jose Molina singles in a run before Mike McCoy grounds out.

April 10th vs. Toronto:
9th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 3-0
Will Ohman walks Vernon Wells intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.13, Win Expectancy: down 0.1%
Gets Lyle Overbay to fly out.

April 14th vs. Tampa Bay:
4th inning, 2 outs, runner on third, O’s down 3-0
Brad Bergesen walks Carlos Pena intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.14, Win Expectancy: down 0.7%
BJ Upton hits a three-run homer; double and a groundout after that.

April 15th vs. Oakland:
7th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 5-1
Mark Hendrickson walks Kurt Suzuki intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.12, Win Expectancy: down 0.1%
Gets Eric Chavez to fly out.

April 17th vs. Oakland:
9th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s up 3-2
Jim Johnson walks Daric Barton intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: up 0.7%
Ryan Sweeney singles in two for the walk-off 4-3 win.

April 21st vs. Seattle:
4th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 4-1
Kevin Millwood walks Ichiro intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.11, Win Expectancy: down 0.3%
Walks Chone Figgins, but gets Franklin Gutierrez to fly out.

April 23rd vs. Boston:
8th inning, 2 outs, runner on third, O’s tied 3-3
Will Ohman enters the game (?) and walks Victor Martinez intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.15, Win Expectancy: down 1.5%
Walks David Ortiz, before being removed. Jim Johnson walks in the go-ahead run before ending the inning.

May 5th vs. New York:
4th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 6-1
Mark Hendrickson walks A-Rod intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.12, Win Expectancy: down 0.2%
Strikes Robbie Cano out looking

May 8th vs. Minnesota:
8th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s down 4-1
Matt Albers walks Nick Punto (!) intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: unchanged
Strikes out pinch-hitter Joe Mauer, but allows a two-run single before getting out of the inning.

May 11th vs. Seattle:
5th inning, 2 outs, runners on second and third, O’s down 1-0
David Hernandez walks Ichiro intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.3%
Walks Chone Figgins to force in a run before getting Guti to fly out.

May 12th vs. Seattle:
4th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s up 2-0
Brad Bergesen walks Ryan Langerhans
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.9%
Gets Josh Wilson to ground into the inning ending double play.

May 17th vs. Kansas City:
6th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s tied 2-2
Brad Bergesen walks Mitch Maier intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.0%
Yuniesky Betancourt drives in a run with a groundout; Kendall flies out.

May 19th vs. Texas:
7th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s up 2-1
Matt Albers walks Michael Young intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.0%
Ian Kinsler grounds out to score a run; Vladdy singles in another.

May 22nd vs. Washington:
8th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 7-6
Mark Hendrickson walks Josh Willingham intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.12, Win Expectancy: down 0.4%
Gets Wil Nieves to ground out.

May 25th vs. Oakland:
8th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 7-5
Cla Meredith walks Gabe Gross intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.13, Win Expectancy: down 0.5%
Gets Adam Rosales to ground out.

June 5th vs. Boston:
9th inning, 1 out, runners on second and third, O’s down 2-0
Will Ohman walks Jason Varitek intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: unchanged
Gives up back-to-back doubles to Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall to make it 6-0 before being removed.

June 6th vs. Boston:
6th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s tied 2-2
Brian Matusz walks Victor Martinez intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.13, Win Expectancy: down 1.3%
Walks Adrian Beltre, but gets Bill Hall to ground out.

June 9th vs. New York:
6th inning, 1 out, runner on second, O’s down 3-2
Chris Tillman walks Curtis Granderson intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.25, Win Expectancy: down 1.9%
Gets Fransisco Cervelli and Kevin Russo to fly out.

June 9th vs. New York:
9th inning, 2 outs, runner on second, O’s down 4-2
Frank Mata walks Robinson Cano intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.13, Win Expectancy: down 0.3%
Gets Marcus Thames to fly out.

June 10th vs. New York:
6th inning, 1 out, runner on third, O’s tied 3-3
Jake Arrieta walks RBInson Cano intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.26, Win Expectancy: down 2.5%
Gets Jorge Posada to fly out, then…

June 10th vs. New York:
6th inning, 2 outs, runners on second and third, O’s tied 3-3
Jake Arrieta walks Curtis Granderson intentionally
Run Expectancy: up 0.17, Win Expectancy: down 1.8%
Strikes Marcus Thames out swinging.

The total run expectancy before the intentional walks was 17.85, and after the intentional walks it was 21.47. That means that the team has theoretically given away about 3.62 runs this year. So how many runs did the Orioles actually give up after intentionally walking a batter in an inning? That would be 22, just as expected.

The total change in win probability due to the walks is -17.9%. Interestingly, the two occasions in which an intentional walk was really the correct call (increased the team’s chances to win the game) – ahead in the 9th with 1 out and runners on second and third – the move backfired, as the following batter got a hit to win the game for his team.

In any case, it would be really nice if the O’s could please stop doing this. It’s not a huge deal, but they’re really not in a position to give their opponents any free bases, and it’s irritating on principle.