Here’s a weird thing. After Mike Trout was intentionally walked last night, I wanted to see who was intentionally walked the most times in their rookie season. Since rookies are generally challenged with fastballs, I figured the numbers would remain fairly low except for the most exceptional of hitters. Well, because I’m an idiot, my assumptions were all wrong. Here are the top three hitters to receive intentional walks in their rookie season:
1. Alvin Davis, 16 IBB in 1984 (147 OPS+)
2. George Scott, 13 IBB in 1966 (107 OPS+)
3. Rey Ordonez, 12 IBB in 1996 (60 OPS+)
Alvin Davis at least earned those intentional walks as he was easily the best hitter on a poor Mariners team. George Scott’s ability to get four free ones is a little odder as he was a pretty good bet to whiff, leading the league in strikeouts that season, while also batting in a lineup with Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Conigliaro, Joe Foy, and Don Dementer who all hit better than Scott. But Rey Ordonez? Even with the pitcher batting behind him, walking Rey Ordonez doesn’t make any sense.
Ordonez posted a .592 OPS in ‘96 (right in line with his career .600 mark) getting on base 29% of the time. Remove the 12 intentional walks and Ordonez’s OBP would have fallen to .266, only 80 points ahead of the average pitcher in the National League. Perhaps proving that everyone is stupid, Ordonez was never intentionally walked during a 14 game hit streak at the end of April, while hitting .434/.444/.566.
Oddly enough, Albert Pujols, who posted a 1.013 OPS when he was a rookie, was only intentionally walked 6 times, ranking 42nd. If I’ve learned one thing on this Earth, it’s that nothing makes sense, man.
(source: Baseball-Reference Play Index)