# Looking for a baseball stat: effectiveness of the Intentional Walk

Does anybody know if anyone has ever calculated the effectiveness of issuing the Intentional Base on Balls? Definition of “effectivness” is open to debate, I guess…like, batting average batters who follow a IBB vs BA of the batter just walked. But there being a stat for everything in baseball, you would think someone would have determined by now whether or not it’s a successful strategy.

On the other hand, I’m a fan of the SF Giants and Barry Bonds, so I see an intentional walk just about every game. And I’ve never heard a broadcaster mention any statistics about this.

A lot of people have spent a lot of time studying this question and I’ve never seen a definitive conclusion.

was based on run expectancies in various situations. (2 on, 2 outs, etc.) and whether or not it was wise to use the IBB.

The problem is determing how you measure the “effectiveness” of the IBB. Is it more important that the recipient of the IBB doesn’t score or the runners already on base do not score or does it just matter that the succeeding hitter not get a hit?

That’s an impressive chart on that link. Looks like a blackjack Basic Strategy matrix.

I would define “effectiveness” as getting out of the inning without further damage, with possibly a sub-category of “immediate effectiveness” as retiring the next batter. It would be easy to determine the above values, but the hard part would be coming up with the corresponding numbers: what happens when you don’t issue the walk.

Also that chart was drawn up specifically with a 2002 Barry Bonds in mind. There would be a different set of outcomes if you’re dealing with a poorer hitter.

I’ve read a number of studies on the subject as well, and, like BobT I’ve seen a lot of different conclusions. From my own experience and observation, it’s a pretty effective way to stop the bleeding if you’re facing a really dangerous guy like a Bonds or if you’re pitching around the eight hitter to get to the pitcher early in the game when a pinch-hitter is unlikely, but tends to blow up in your face most other times.

Personally, I challenge anyone in the bottom third of the batting order, regardless of the situation and make a best guess on everyone else based on their ability to drive in runs.

It also depends on the base-running of the walked player, doesn’t it? I don’t think Bonds drew as many walks when he was a leading base-stealer.

Barry Bonds was once walked intentionally with the bases loaded … and it worked, because the Giants ended up losing.