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Henry asks:

I am interested in batter's performance after an intentional walk. My local Mets announcers said on a recent broadcast that Kevin McReynolds was at his best when the pitcher intentionally walked Darryl Strawberry to get of him. "McReynolds always seemed to come up with a big hit." The implication is that McReynolds felt the slight, and wanted to make the pitcher pay. Is there any validity to this statement? Who has been the best all-time after an Intentional Base on Balls? It might be a different measure of "clutch." And it might be a (tiny) lineup or pinch-hitter consideration.

Hope you're as interested as Henry was, or at least as interested as I was. I've got some answers:

1. Was Kevin McReynolds "at his best" when the pitcher intentionally walked Darryl Strawberry to get to him? Kevin McReynolds had a .416 OBP and .693 slugging percentage after a batter was intentionally walked in front of him. That's 89 plate appearances, and while not all of them were after a Darryl Strawberry IBB specifically, I have to assume that the IBB, not the Strawman, is the relevant variable here. Was that "his best"? Arguably so! He hit .359/.450/.641 in 120 plate appearances with a runner on third and two outs, which is darned good, and maybe that was his best. He hit .378/.472/.644 with the bases loaded and two outs, but that's only about 50 plate appearances. He hit .346/.471/.769 in 34 plate appearances at Tiger Stadium, which was his very very best, but again, small number of trials. I'm comfortable saying that, in fact, Kevin McReynolds was at his best after a pitcher intentionally walked Darryl Strawberry (or Steve Garvey, or Howard Johnson, or anybody) ahead of him.

2. Who has been the best all-time after an Intentional Base on Balls? Depends how low you want to set the filter. Since 1980, which is all time to me, with a minimum of 10 plate appearances in this situation, it's Nick Markakis, whose .643 OBP and 1.000 SLG gives him the highest-ever post-IBB TAv, at .598. But to get to a decent number of plate appearances ("decent" being relative) requires scrolling nine more spots down the leaderboard:

FULLNAME PA HR TAv OBP SLG
Nick Markakis 14 0 0.5978 0.6429 1
Ron Washington 10 0 0.597 0.7 1
Jim Pankovits 12 1 0.5416 0.5833 0.8889
Craig Worthington 19 0 0.5326 0.5263 0.7647
Joey Cora 13 0 0.5319 0.6154 0.7273
Rick Burleson 11 0 0.529 0.6 1
Marco Scutaro 22 0 0.5222 0.6364 0.7895
Mark Salas 11 3 0.5168 0.3636 1.1818
Bob Zupcic 11 1 0.5136 0.5455 1.0909
Bobby Bonilla 38 5 0.5054 0.5263 1.04

In all honesty, Bobby Bonilla never struck me as a guy who took much offense. Then I remembered that, actually, he was definitely a guy who took much offense:

Okay, how about this then: In all honesty, Bobby Bonilla never struck me as a guy who didn't switch-hit. It's rare to intentionally walk somebody to get to a switch-hitter, especially one who could really switch-hit. Who are those 38 batters who were passed in favor of Bonilla?

As you can see, a lot of these came away from his Pittsburgh years, but he was good for a lot of non-Pittsburgh years. Those 10 after Rafael Palmeiro came with the Orioles, and he was really good with the Orioles! Maybe it was right-handed pitchers trying to avoid facing Palmeiro with the platoon disadvantage, but Bonilla was also really good against right-handers: .297/.375/.497 those two years, worse than Palmeiro but not IBB-this-guy worse. Anyway.

You probably don't even remember Matt Franco, but he got intentionally walked 18 times in his career. Eighteen! The batters after him produced a .183 True Average, and even the non-pitchers in that group produced only a .194 True Average. That's why we have that old baseball saying: "Always intentionally walk Matt Franco."

If you want a really good sample, you'd go down to Richie Sexson, with a .478 OBP, 1.069 SLG, and .470 True Average in 69 plate appearances. Nice, nice, nice and niiice. Further down, Manny Ramirez, with 82 plate appearances with .463/.721 and a .384 TAv, which isn't as impressive as Sexson but makes you wonder how 82 people were IBB'd to face Manny Ramirez; did MLB sneak in a season where Ramirez and Bonds were on the same team and we just didn't notice? Finally, if you want somebody with at least 100 trials you get to Jeff Conine, who had a .422 OBP, .585 SLG, and a .340 True Average. He had a .273 career True Average. Jeff Conine was a guy who knew how to take a slight.

Unasked questions

3. Who was the worst?

One answer: Ryan Spilborghs, 0-for-10, -.0861 True Average

Another: Tony Phillips, 0-for-12, but in a much more difficult offensive environment this is actually better than Spilborghs: -.0542 True Average

Or: Brent Mayne, who got 33 PAs, and hit .151/.035, some of it in Coors, for an .063 True Average

And: Bo Jackson, because scrolling upward he's arguably the first hitter who was actually good. He hit .148/.120 with a .091 True Average. Josh Hamilton, Frank Thomas and Kyle Seager are basically at the same level, but in smaller doses than Jackson, who got 27 shots at this.

However, to really answer the question, I prefer this list of hitters who got lots of chances, were generally good, and were occasionally A.J. Pierzynski, let's all point and gloat at A.J. Pierzynski:

Mike Cameron 68 1 0.2388 0.3235 0.3214
Jeffrey Leonard 70 3 0.2375 0.2857 0.3968
Brian Jordan 82 2 0.2343 0.2927 0.3649
Jay Buhner 107 1 0.2329 0.3333 0.2857
Edgardo Alfonzo 67 0 0.2203 0.303 0.2456
A.J. Pierzynski 61 2 0.2085 0.2623 0.3273
Juan Gonzalez 63 2 0.2077 0.254 0.3333
Tom Brunansky 79 1 0.2016 0.2278 0.2571
Gary Gaetti 102 3 0.1969 0.2574 0.3103
Dave Winfield 77 0 0.1812 0.2597 0.1818

A note: Remember, this is since 1980, so some of Winfield's career is excluded. All the same! This table, for reasons obvious, will not appear in Juan Gonzalez's Hall of Fame brochure.

4. And, going down a different track, which intentionally walked hitters had the best cumulative performances by the batters immediately after them? Who is, in other words, the anti-Matt Franco? Requiring a sizeable sample, it's Joey Votto or Raul Ibanez, whose followers were basically identical in 83 plate appearances each. Ibanez gets the nod because seven of the 83 batters after him homered. Cumulative: .463 OBP, .732 SLG, .401 True Average.

5. And the worst? Mike Benjamin's followers went 0-for-19 but they were all pitchers. Let's call this one Andrew McCutchen: Batters after him have gone .154/.088 with a .101 True Average, in 39 tries.

6. And Bonds? Following 688 IBBs, just two of which preceded a pitcher, batters had a .255 True Average. Just a tiny bit worse than the league hits overall. Bonds, meanwhile, was faced 32 times after an intentional walk. He had a .348 True Average.

Thanks to Rob McQuown for pulling all this stuff together.

Thank you for reading

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pjw138
4/20
I love stuff like this. You hear commentators with similar tales and many are way off. It's great to see this recollection was on the money. I had a great time reading through these lists.
newsense
4/20
Being in Unfiltered, I know it's just for fun but the best comparison would be comparing the after IBB appearances to other appearances with the same bases occupied and number of outs.
lyricalkiller
4/20
Thought about going all the way with this, comparing not to base/out states so much as each hitter's career performance, but put it off for another day (which will probably never come). So many complicating factors, mainly that players don't get IBB'd-to randomly; they get IBB'd to more in certain stages of their career, both because their performance level dictates it and because their performance level dictates where in the batting order they hit. Also, almost always they get IBB'd to against pitchers who will have the platoon edge on them; and they might get IBB'd to specifically because the pitcher in question matches up well with them, as a FB pitcher or a high-ball pitcher or whatever. It'd be possible to account for most of all this, but I'm also roughly 99.998 percent sure that whatever I found would be too faint (or entirely non-existent) to dismiss the likelihood that it's mere noise.
matthewyeo
4/27
Brent Mayne was the batter after the famous bases-loaded IBB to Barry Bonds. Buck Showalter was obviously doing this analysis in 1998!