Part I explored Joe Girardi’s use of the IBB in 2012 relative to his AL peers. Part II broadened the time horizon to pose the question as to why Girardi seemed to keep nonsensically insisting that one of his best pitching assets put men on base. Today, in Part III, we will seek to establish context for Girardi’s use of IBBs.

For the period of 2008 to 2012, Joe Girardi’s Yankees have issued 177 base on balls, the fourth highest total in the American League for that time period. Most of these have come singularly in games, but, as you can see, sometimes The Binder can’t help himself.

NoMaas Intentional Walk Frequency

Must. Over. Manage.

When and to whom has The Binder demanded that four wide ones be thrown? And do they deserve it? Let’s find out! Here are the top ten players (highest to lowest from left to right) Girardi has walked since 2008 using OPS+ as a very crude measure of a batter’s “threat level” at the dish.

NoMaas Intentional Walk

For the most part, Girardi is walking dangerous hitters as the average career OPS+ of this group sits at a respectable 124. Walking Ichiro that often seems…strange…but not nearly as strange as Franklin Gutierrez (HE OF THE CAREER 89 OPS+) cracking the top ten. Maybe Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik has a binder of his own, one that is filled with nude photos of Girardi?

Now we can ask what sort of strategy The Binder employs with his intentional walks. Is he doing it to preserve a lead? To keep the Yankees in a close game? Because he’s bored?

NoMaas Intentional Walk

For better or for worse, Girardi ordered the majority of his intentional walks in “close” situations when the Yankees were either up by one, tied, or down by one. The leverage data from Baseball Reference corroborates this as nearly half of the walks were ordered in high leverage. We’ll write off the 49 IBBs issued when the Yankees were down 3 or more runs as bad for morale and move on before we all stroke out from thinking about it too much.

Perhaps the most amazing context statistic pertaining to The Binder’s issuance of intentional walks is that according to Baseball-Reference, all 177 ordered since 2008 came with runners in scoring position. All of them. No exceptions. On the one hand, this jives with the fact that most of the walks came in close games where Girardi envisioned the potential for a Yankee victory. On the other hand, given that placing additional men on base could potentially increase the total potential runs scored by the other team, it begs the question as to whether Girardi’s walks are actually benefiting the team….

Stay tuned for Part IV.