Why do all Little League parents and some coaches have so much trouble with the intentional walk? They usually start yelling things like “unsportsmanlike”, “all you want to do is win”, etc. It confuses me greatly. Would they say the same thing about the bunt? The intentional walk is a strategy employed by the coach just as bunting, stealing, hit and run, are employed. So why the hubbub?
A lot of Little League teams have that one stud. The kid that is 10 times better than anyone else on the team. He bats about .750 and hits home runs regularly. The odds are, he is going to hit the ball. Everyone worth their salt knows that in baseball you don’t let the other team’s best player beat you. No way, no how. So, if the situation arises, you have to walk them.
Lets take a situation I had the other night. The team we were playing has a stud that crushes the ball. We were tied in the bottom of the last inning with two outs and they had the winning run on 2nd. A single scores the kid from second, and the batter’s run really means nothing. He has at least a 75% chance of hitting a single. Why would any coach put his team in the position of having a 3-in-4 chance they are going to lose the game?
Here is what happens if you walk the kid:
1. You reduce the chances that the ball will be hit because the next kid has only a .400 average if that. So a 40% chance of a hit.
2. You create a force situation at every base except home.
3. You can back your infielders up and even if the ball is hit, it will only result in an infield single at most and the runs won’t score. You will only have bases loaded and now a force at every base including home.
If you don’t walk him, you have a 75% hitter up there w/ your infield having to play mid-level so they can make the throw to first in time, their only play for the most part, and if they throw it away the run is likely to score. Pitching to this batter makes absolutely no sense under any circumstances.
So, back to my original question, why do the parents lose their mind? Because, again, they are reacting to the situation with a very limited knowledge of the situation. They are passing judgment without fully educating themselves. In this situation, there is usually the educated dad or coach in the stands speaking loudly saying something like “smart move” or “he has to do it” to try and quell the protesters. But for the most part, intentional walks in Little League are met with disdain.
Do you intentionally walk batters in Little League? If so, under what circumstances?
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