Sunday, April 20, 2008

Walk Hard: The Manny Acta Story

Just a quick thought...

In yesterday's game, Manny Acta had Saul Rivera intentionally walk Josh Willingham. That was the Nats 12th Intentional Walk, which leads the league by three. They're on pace (and I know the dangers of using pace) for 108 for the year.

Last season -- with basically a pitching staff of the same quality -- they intentionally walked 44 batters all year, 10th highest in the league, among a large group of teams in the 40ish range.

Why the change in philosophy? What's different about this team or these situations that's causing Manny to turn into Bobby Cox after a bender? Why was intentionally walking so many batters last year a bad thing, but this year, it's a good thing?

I'm not criticizing the decision to do it -- the Willingham play, for example, made sense -- but I am curious as to why.

(For the record, I'm essentially agnostic on the value of the IBB. It has its purposes, though I don't think that leading the league in it is necessarily a good thing. The exception to my agnosticism is in the case of IBBing the bases loaded, which I hate Hate HATE HATE!!! But that's a rant for another time)

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