The Rangers Should Probably Stop Intentionally Walking Albert Pujols

The Texas Rangers have walked Albert Pujols five times in the first six games of this World Series—all intentionally. Many of these walks are bad ideas! (And not just for the spiritual reasons elucidated of late by Josh Levin and Rob Neyer, among others.)

Pujols may be the best hitter in baseball, but he makes outs often (over 60 percent of the time, per his 2011 regular-season performance), if you do pitch to him. Moreover, the hitters batting behind Pujols are pretty good! By 2011 performances, Lance Berkman makes outs less than 60 percent of the time. Matt Holliday (who isn't playing tonight, but did play in previous Cards-Rangers clashes) made outs in 2011 less often than Pujols did. Even David Freese got on base almost as well as Pujols did this year. Pujols is flanked by such a competent crew that the intentional walk does more harm than good.

Fangraphs explained the matter better six long games ago:

In what situations is a walk acceptable with a right-handed pitcher on the mound? Not many, given how Berkman and Holliday mash righties. A few of the situations:

– bottom of the eighth, one out, runners on second and third, score tied or the Cardinals ahead
– top of the ninth, one out, runners on second and third, score tied or the Cardinals ahead
– bottom of the ninth, none out, runner on second, score tied
– bottom of the ninth, none out, runners on first and third, score tied
– bottom of the ninth, none out, runners on second and third, score tied or Rangers up by one
– bottom of the ninth, one out, runner on third, score tied
– bottom of the ninth, one out, runners on first and third, score tied
– bottom of the ninth, one out, runners on second and third, score tied or Rangers up by one
– bottom of the ninth, two outs, runner on second OR third, score tied

I think that is actually the complete list, or close to it. Relatively speaking it is not a very long list, when you consider all of the possible game states.

Nearly all of these situations involve empty bases and Phat Albert as a meaningless run, which he wasn't in the tenth inning last night, and he wasn't in game five.

Wash hasn't been burned yet, certainly not with the oodles of joules that scalded Texas for pitching to Pujols in game three. But keep your eyes open tonight for that wretched IBB early in the game. Perhaps Texas's luck—what a strange concept, in and of itself—will run out.

When to Walk Pujols [Fangraphs]