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Konerko has 16 intentional walks. How’s that working out?

Posted by John Autin on September 11, 2011

Paul Konerko has drawn 16 intentional walks this year, 3rd in the AL and 7th in White Sox history. As discussed in a prior thread, Konerko is having an excellent year, while the hitters right behind him in the White Sox lineup (mainly #5-6) have done poorly overall. But what about these specific IBB situations? Have opponents benefited from putting Konerko on and pitching to a lesser hitter? Let's take a look.

What happened after an IBB to Konerko? First, a summary:

  • 8 of the 16 IBBs came with the White Sox behind or tied; they scored to tie or take the lead in 5 of those 8 innings.
  • Sox scored after the IBB in 8 of 16 games overall, a total of 16 runs.
  • Sox are 14-2 when Konerko gets an IBB.

Now, here's the detailed result of each inning and game, starting with the date, inning and score at the time of the IBB to Konerko, then describing what happened afterwards (see also the table at bottom):

1. May 11, 10th inning, ahead 5-4 -- Brent Lillibridge sac fly scores insurance run; Sox win.

2. June 6, 8th, ahead 2-1 -- A.J. Pierzynski single scores insurance run; Sox win.

3. June 19, 8th, ahead 4-0 -- Lillibridge RBI single starts 4-run surge after the IBB; Sox win.

4. June 21, 8th, ahead 3-2 -- Adam Dunn pops out with 1st/3rd and 1 out; Sox don't score, but hold their lead and win.

5. June 22, 1st, scoreless -- Alexei Ramirez pops out with 1st/2nd and 2 out; Sox don't score, but go on to win, 4-3. (Intentional walk with 1 man on in the 1st inning of a scoreless game?!?)

6. June 30, 8th, down 4-3 -- Juan Pierre sac fly ties game; Sox win on Pierre hit in the 10th after Konerko fails to get the run in with bases loaded and no out.

7. July 9, 8th, down 3-2 -- Dunn pops out, but Carlos Quentin singles home tying run; Sox win on Ramirez hit in the 9th.

8. July 24, 6th, tied at 1 -- Dunn fly ball to CF is muffed for 2 runs and a 3-1 lead; Sox win, 4-2.

9. July 25, 5th, tied at 2 -- Dunn walks to load the bases; Quentin doubles in 2 for a 4-2 lead; Sox win, 6-3.

10. July 27, 7th, ahead 2-1 -- Dunn walks to load the bases; Quentin fly ball goes for DP as Pierre is thrown out at home; Sox don't score but win, 2-1.

11. August 5, 6th, ahead 4-3 -- Dunn pops out with bases loaded; Quentin flies out; Sox don't score, but win, 5-3.

12. August 13, 8th, ahead 5-4 -- Quentin walks to load the bases; Ramirez makes last out; Sox don't score, but win, 5-4.

13. August 16, 8th, ahead 7-6 -- Quentin flies out to end the inning; Sox don't score, but win, 8-7, on Pierre hit in the 14th.

14. August 17, 3rd, tied at 1 -- Quentin strikes out to end the inning; Sox don't score, go on to lose, 4-1.

15. Sept. 7, 6th, down 4-3 -- IBB to Konerko comes after Ramirez fails to bring in the tying run from 3rd with 1 out; Pierzynski grounds out to end the inning; Sox don't score, go on to lose, 5-4. (Intrigue in the 8th: Twins pitch to Konerko with a 2-run lead, men on 2nd/3rd and no outs; he pops out on a 1-0 pitch; Pierzynski brings in 1 with a groundout; Alexis Rios fans to end the inning.)

16. Sept. 10, 10th, tied at 3 -- Tyler Flowers walks to load the bases; Rios hits grand slam, Sox win.


Needless to say, it's a very small sample under analysis here. I've ignored other walks to Konerko that may have been semi-intentional -- he's drawn 8 other 4-pitch walks, and 17 walks on a 3-1 count (though just 6 of those 25 came with "a base open") -- as well as situations where he may have expanded his strike zone in key RBI situations because of the struggles of the hitters behind him. (Here's a table showing the situation for all 73 walks to Konerko.)

Still, the overall effects of the 16 IBBs to Konerko are pretty striking. The results won't surprise those who've read studies of intentional walks, which generally conclude that the strategy is used more often than it's called for. But White Sox fans -- and general proponents of "lineup protection" -- might be surprised at Chicago's 14-2 record when Konerko draws an IBB.

Your thoughts? Our lines are open -- and so is 1st base.


Here are Konerko's IBBs in date order. Note the Win Probability Added (WPA) column: By a purely probabilistic model -- looking only at the score/base/out/inning situation, without regard to player identities -- not one of the 16 IBBs increased the opponent's odds of winning the game. The worst WPA effect, from the opponent's perspective, was in #7 in the list, when the Konerko pass put the go-ahead run on base with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th.

Yr# Date Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) RBI WPA RE24 LI
1 2011-05-11 @LAA Kevin Jepsen ahead 4-5 t10 --3 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.23 1.15
2 2011-06-06 SEA David Pauley ahead 1-2 b8 -2- 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.00 0.12 .82
3 2011-06-19 @ARI Esmerling Vasquez ahead 0-4 t8 -2- 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.00 0.22 .31
4 2011-06-21 CHC Rodrigo Lopez ahead 2-3 b8 -2- 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.24 .76
5 2011-06-22 CHC Doug Davis tied 0-0 b1 --3 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.14 1.31
6 2011-06-30 @COL Matt Lindstrom down 4-3 t8 -23 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.17 3.51
7 2011-07-09 MIN Glen Perkins down 3-2 b8 -2- 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.04 0.24 3.49
8 2011-07-24 @CLE Justin Masterson tied 1-1 t6 -2- 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.11 1.86
9 2011-07-25 DET Duane Below tied 2-2 b5 -2- 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.12 1.61
10 2011-07-27 DET Phil Coke ahead 1-2 b7 -2- 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.24 1.06
11 2011-08-05 @MIN Nick Blackburn ahead 3-4 t6 -23 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.17 1.65
12 2011-08-13 KCR Blake Wood ahead 4-5 b8 --3 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.14 .97
13 2011-08-16 CLE Vinnie Pestano ahead 6-7 b8 -2- 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.00 0.12 .82
14 2011-08-17 CLE Fausto Carmona tied 1-1 b3 -2- 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.12 1.31
15 2011-09-07 @MIN Alex Burnett down 4-3 t6 -23 2 4 (3-0) 0 0.02 0.17 3.36
16 2011-09-10 CLE Chris Perez tied 3-3 b10 -2- 1 4 (3-0) 0 0.01 0.24 3.17
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/11/2011.

42 Responses to “Konerko has 16 intentional walks. How’s that working out?”

  1. Brendan Burke Says:

    He's using.

  2. TheGoof Says:

    The IBB is dumb.

  3. BSK Says:

    How do those numbers in the first bulletted section compare to league-wide trends?

  4. John Autin Says:

    @3, BSK -- That's an excellent question. I'll see how far I can go towards answering it with the available tools.

  5. John Autin Says:

    Comparing the results of Konerko's IBBs to league-wide data, as suggested by BSK:

    I'll use AL-only games to filter out the routine IBBs to get to the pitcher.

    (1) WINS: For 2011, teams that got at least 1 IBB in a game have gone 237-63, a .790 W%.

    Applying that W% to Konerko's 16 games, we might roughly expect the ChiSox to have won 12 to 13 of those contests.

    ... continued ...

  6. John Autin Says:

    ... continued from #5 ...

    (2) SCORE AT TIME OF IBB: In 2011, about 45% of of IBBs were issued to a team that was behind or tied at the time. Applying that rate to Konerko, we might expect about 7 of his 16 IBBs -- instead of 8 -- to have come with his team behind or tied.

    (For this piece, I had to use the Event Finder, which means I could not restrict it to AL-only. Instead, I excluded all IBBs to the #8 hitter.)

  7. John Autin Says:

    BSK, I can't provide the league rate for the other bullet point, i.e., how often (and how much) did the team score after the IBB within the same inning. The only way I could get that would be to plow through about 900 play-by-play accounts, one by one.

  8. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I notice that none of the batters following a Konerko IBB hit a ground ball resulting in even one out. It would be very interesting (though horribly time-consuming) to research the percentage of non-ground-ball outs batted into after an intentional walk compared with the percentage of non-ground-ball outs batted into in all other situations. It certainly appears that the hitters who followed Konerko were trying to put the ball in the air, and that for the most part they succeeded.

  9. Charles Says:

    There were 253 players this year whose only time on base in a game was an IBB and only 23 scored. Some of that may be because a runner ahead was the winning run in the bottom of the 9th or later.

    The purpose of an IBB is to get the pitcher out of a jam and prevent runs from scoring, by creating a force out situation. If I counted correctly, the pitcher succeeded half the time they walked Konerko. In those cases where Konerko's team scored, it could have very well made the difference, but the true success rate of the strategy is whether the pitcher or pitchers succeeded in not allowing any runs that inning after the IBB, not necessarily the end result of the game.

    I think also that they look at the two batters in an IBB situation. If the first is better, they may walk him and go after the 2nd. If the 1st is weaker, they may go after him and walk the second. Konerko is the best hitter on the team.

    The White Sox team is batting 0.209 with runners on 1st and 2nd, but are tied for the league lead with 13 HRs. The BA is 0.268 with only a runner on 2nd.

    I don't know if the 50% we see with pitcher's getting out of jams is a typical success rate.

    Kahuna, it's likely they were trying to avoid GIDP. Do you think in some those cases they were trying to get the runner in from 3rd on a SF, whether they were successful or not?

  10. CHARLES Says:

    Very nice 2nd table with all walks. I like the 6/24 game. In the 10th, he walks with 1 out with his team behind by 1 and is lifted for a pinch hitter. Before the inning is it gets wild, 7 PA, 2 IBB, 1 H, 1 R. bases loaded for 3 batters.

  11. CHARLES Says:

    I looked at the 16 games and I'd like to place them into 3 categories, based on whether Konerko's team scored and whether Konerko scored in that inning.

    Impact ranking for Konerko is independent of final score or score at the time, but relies on the performance of the batters behind him.

    Low impact for Konerko - No score after IBB
    Medium Impact - Another player scored after IBB
    High Impact for Konerko - Konerko (or PR) scored

    Low Impact for Konerko, Team Record 6-2
    Game Score before IBB, Final Score
    3-2, 3-2
    0-0, 4-3
    2-1, 2-1
    4-3, 5-3
    5-4, 5-4
    7-6, 8-7
    1-1, 1-4
    3-4, 4-5

    Medium Impact for Konerko, Team Record 4-0
    Game Score before IBB, Game Score at end of innning, final score
    5-4, 6-4, 6-4 Insurance Run
    2-1, 3-1, 3-1 Insurance Run
    3-4, 4-4, 6-4 Tie Run
    2-3, 3-3, 4-3 Tie Run

    High Impact for Konerko, Team Record 4-0
    Game Score before IBB, Game Score at end of Inning, Final Score
    4-0, 8-0, 8-2 Insurance Runs
    1-1, 3-1, 4-2, Go ahead Runs
    2-2, 4-2, 6-3, Go ahead Runs
    3-3, 7-3, 7-3, Winning Runs

  12. Timothy P. Says:

    @1 Konerko is not "using" anything except vitamins and his Bible. He is having a great year because he is a Polish super-stud, all-American killer (of the baseball)!!!!

  13. John Autin Says:

    @9, Charles: "If I counted correctly, the pitcher succeeded half the time they walked Konerko. In those cases where Konerko's team scored, it could have very well made the difference, but the true success rate of the strategy is whether the pitcher or pitchers succeeded in not allowing any runs that inning after the IBB, not necessarily the end result of the game."

    Charles, I partly agree; if I gave the impression that I measured the success of the IBB strategy solely by game outcome, I apologize. That is not my intent.

    But your definition of "success" for that strategy is too narrow because it doesn't contemplate the damage from multiple runs. That is the same mistake teams often make when they use the IBB.

    In Konerko's case, multiple runs scored after the IBB on 4 occasions. The last one (walk-off grand slam) sort of doesn't count, since there was no practical difference between 1 and 4 runs. In another, the Sox scored 4 in the inning but were already ahead by 4; the marginal difference of the extra runs, in the 8th inning, was minimal.

    But in 2 of those multi-run instances -- nos. 8 and 9 -- the 2nd run was extremely important; in each of those innings, the Sox went from tied to 2 runs ahead. There's a big difference between a 1-run lead and a 2-run lead.

    Finally, even if we were to accept your narrow definition of "success" for the IBB strategy, how do you figure a 50% "success" rate is good? Wouldn't that mean that Konerko's odds of bringing in 1 run were even better than 50%? And how could that be so?

  14. CHARLES Says:

    Please read carefully the points I have made.

    When I discussed success I was ALWAYS talking about the performance of the pitchers. In addition, I said, "I don't know if the 50% we see with pitcher's getting out of jams is a typical success rate." The rate of success for the pitchers was 50%, using my definition as only if the pitchers do not give up a run in the inning after the IBB in question. I would never say 50% was good, bad or otherwise without more information. NEVER did I define success for the batting team.

    As far as post @11 goes, I was only referring to Konerko, in deciding on his impact and it was only for that inning, not the game itself. I did debate whether to include the 7-3 game in Konerko's high impact game, but as I said, "Impact ranking for Konerko is independent of final score or score at the time, but relies on the performance of the batters behind him." Konerko is responsible once he gets on base to not do anything to hurt his teams's chances of scoring. In addition, if he made an out on the basepaths, which I don't think he did, his impact rating would end at that point. In addition, I allowed for the possibility of a PR not affecting his impact, but I don't think he had one.

    So, I have done two things:
    Made my own definition of success for the pitchers.
    Defined impact on the inning by the person receiving the base on balls.

    What I did not do:
    I did not define success for the batting team.
    I did not use the game score to define Konerko's impact, only any change in game score in that inning.
    I never used the game result or the score prior to the IBB to influence my two definitions of success and impact.
    I did not define a particular success level as good, bad, or otherwise.

    I think we can both safely agree at the very least 8 of those were meaningless IBBs in terms of the teams's record.

  15. John Autin Says:

    @14, CHARLES -- or is it Charles? --

    My comment #13 was solely a reply to #9. I thought that "Charles" and "CHARLES" were different people.

  16. CHARLES Says:

    I'm both Charles and CHARLES

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That doesn't seem fair.

    But while you're at it, can you co-opt "Chuck" as well?

  18. Charles Says:

    I'll try to remember to stay with Charles. Or maybe I should keep them both and argue with myself. I started out as Chuck a few months ago, but another came along.

  19. Mike L Says:

    There's another odd item in those games. Adam Dunn follows six times. He walks twice, reaches on an error, and pops out three times. Not a single K. No hits either. It's interesting that Ozzie has seemingly banished Dunn, who now may not get enough plate appearances to "qualify" for a batting title. Dunn now has 160 K's and a BA of .162. Any historical precedent for that type of parity?

  20. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Yeah, you shouldn't have given it up so easily.

  21. Mike L Says:

    Rob Deer had 175 K's and hit .179 in 1991, but I can't find anyone else

  22. Charles Says:

    Mark Reynolds 211 SO 0.198

  23. Charles Says:

    Ginger Beaumont 311 SOs 0.311 BA

  24. Mike L Says:

    @23, Ginger Beaumont is an interesting number but it's a coincidence, not an "accomplishment". More impressive is Joe DiMaggio-361 HR's, 369 Ks, and a .325 BA.

  25. John Autin Says:

    @24, Mike L -- No one would compare Ginger Beaumont to Joe D. But if the DiMaggio trifecta you posted is an accomplishment, why isn't Beaumont's .311 BA / 311 Ks one as well?

  26. Charles Says:


    Taking into account your comments, I have added classifications for unsuccessful IBB attempts and defined batting team success

    Measurement of success of a particular IBB (game score independent)
    Often the goal of the IBB is to keep the lead runner from scoring.

    Success for pitching team: no runs score in the inning after the IBB.
    Unsuccessful: Only 1 run scores after the IBB, even if the IBB runner (or PR) is erased on the basepaths.
    Highly unsuccessful: 2 or more runs score after the IBB.

    Unsuccessful for batting team: No runs score after IBB.
    Success: 1 run scores
    Highly successful: 2 or more runs score.

    IBB Player Impact:
    Low: No runs score
    Medium: At least 1 run scores, even if the IBB runner (or PR) is erased on the basepaths.
    High: IBB runner or PR scores.

    I do not know what a good success rate would be. It would be based on actual existing success rates over all the teams.

  27. Mike L Says:

    @24, JA, Beaumont's numbers just strike me as interesting noise. He was a contact hitter in a contact era, and since BA is expressed in thousandths and strike outs are expressed as whole numbers, if he had played another season, at his career average numbers, the linkage would have been permanently broken.

  28. Charles Says:

    11 players have a 0.300 BA with HRs in the 300s
    35 players have a 0.300 BA with SOs in the 300s. Beaumont's is the highest with the quirk we mentioned. I agree, interesting noise and a function of when his career ended.

    DiMaggio's SO vs HR rate is highly impressive and is well known.

    Actual Career: 361/ 369/ 0.325 Spread = 44
    One more year duplicating his last seasons numbers 373/405/0.321 Spread=84
    349/333/0.329 If he retired 1 year earlier Spread =20
    317/300/0.331 If he retired 2 years earlier Spread = 31
    I would not call the HR/SO numbers interesting noise. Why would you not call the trifecta interesting noise?

    DiMaggio is the only player with both HRs and SOs in the 300s, no matter what the batting average.

  29. Mike L Says:

    @28 Didn't say DiMaggio's HR/K numbers were interesting noise. Theoretically, if he were healthy, he could have continued the parity for a few more years. Obviously, his K/BA numbers would change, just as they would have with Beaumont.

  30. Charles Says:

    @29 I agree 100% with everything you said in 29. In addition, I never said you called DiMaggio's HR/K interesting noise.

    BUT in 24 and 28:
    Throwing in the BA with the HR/K numbers is a bit odd to do, if you're going to follow it by downplaying Beaumont's quirk. Beaumont is 1 of 35 people in the 300K/0.300 BA range. Beaumont's 300K/.300 is interesting noise. It's a definite function of when he stopped playing..

    Anyone can use the same argument to say a 300HR/0.300 is interesting noise, 11 people have done it. It's a definite function of when they retire.

    DiMaggio's 300K/300SO is a great achievement. It is not interesting noise because he's the only one to do it. Throwing in the BA and downplaying Beaumont's quirk is a bit puzzling to me, but I'll move on.

  31. Mike L Says:

    @30, I simply don't have the gift of numbers (and sometimes rhetoric) than others do here. I'll move on as well. Back to political blogs. It's safer.

  32. Charles Says:


    Cool. It's an opinion difference. No big deal.

  33. Adam Says:

    @24 & 28 (& unintentionally @12)

    Though he didn't quite make it into the 300 HR and 300 K club, Ted Kluszewski came pretty close with 279 HR's and 365 K's. I mention this since he came into the league right at the tail end of DiMaggio's career and I think it is also worth noting that as of the end of the1956 season (age 31) he had 251 HR's and 253 K's. Even in older days high HR and low K numbers were not exceptionally common (although much more so than now), so I think that considering the time frame what Kluzewski did is somewhat impressive.

  34. Mike L Says:

    @33, that would have been true with Yogi Berra as well-he finished with 358/414. Through 1959 (he was 34) he had 302 HRs and 325 K.

  35. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @33/ Adam - more useless trivia:
    Ted Kluszewski had four straight full years of HR's>K's, from 1953 to 1956. Dimaggio did it five times in row (1937-41), but with HR totals not as impressive as Klu's (tho his K totals were lower). Johnny Mize led the NL in HRs two straight years with HR's>K's, 1947-48.

    I'm guessing that Barry Bonds is the last power hitter do this in 2004 (45 HR/ 41 K), though he came close in 1994 and 2002.

  36. Richard Chester Says:


    Since Vic Power did it in 1958 only George Brett (1980) and Bonds (2004) have done it.

  37. Mike L Says:

    Joe Sewell had, over the last nine years of his career, covering close to 5400 plate appearances, 61 HRs and 49 Ks.

  38. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @28-@37, HRs>KOs:

    I think a more reasonable standard nowadays in this era of high strikeouts would be {Extra Base Hits} > Strikeouts. Albert Pujols, one of the few current power hitters who doesn't KO very often, has 908 XBHs vs. 698K's. He's done it every individual year since his rookie year. A-Rod, for example, isn't close for his career.

    Looking at this year's Red Sox, Rangers, and Yankees regulars, only Adrian Beltre has XBHs> Ks (Ian Kinsler has +1 KO).

    Just what the world needs now, another useless junk-stat...

  39. Whiz Says:

    @22, Yes, Mark Reynolds has the most SO for having SO >= 1000*AVG in a single year; second place is Dean Chance with 63 SO and a .054 AVG in, not surprisingly, 1968. In fact, spots 2 through 79 on the list are pitchers.

    Reggie Jackson darn near had SO > 10000*AVG for his career, with 2597 SO and a .262 AVG (he actually had SO = 9914*AVG).

  40. Charles Says:

    Dan Uggla is sitting with 898 H, 898 SO today. First time since Aug. 30 that they've been equal.

  41. mosc Says:

    you can use RE24 to judge intentional walks pretty well. You take the RE24 situational expectation of the situation - the one after the intentional walk. That's the run possibility you've just ADDED. Now you take the RE24/ab of the guy you're walking - the RE24/ab of the guy you're going to face. That's the RE24 threat you've walked.

  42. Charles Says:

    I reality, would it work out, though?

    I went into the game finder and searched for games where TOB (including reaching on error) was 1, IBB=1, Runs =0 and compared it to runs =1
    10% of the time the IBB runner scored

    I went into the game finder and searched for batters where TOB (including reaching on error) was 1, BB=1, Runs =0 and compared it to runs =1
    24% of the time he walked, he scored.

    I went into the game finder and searched for games where TOB (including reaching on error) was 1, single=1, Runs =0 and compared it to runs =1. 24% of the time the batter hitting the single scored.