Pitching Strategy: When To Use An Intentional Walk

  • Updated on Dec. 17, 2016

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ATTENTION PITCHERS: One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

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Noah Syndergaard

In baseball, an intentional base on balls, usually referred to as an intentional walk and denoted in baseball scorekeeping by IBB, is a walk issued to a batter by a pitcher with the intent of removing the batter's opportunity to swing at the pitched ball.

A pitch that is intentionally thrown far outside the strike zone for this purpose is referred to as an intentional ball.

In this article, we'll discuss when and how to use an intentional walk as part of a pitcher's strategy.

We will use the intentional walk to:

  1. Pitch around good hitters
  2. Set up a force play and/or double play situation

Often times we will resort to the “unintentional but intentional walk”.

By this I mean even though we do not really want to pitch to the hitter, we are willing to let him hit bad pitches. Usually we throw him curve balls slightly out of the strike zone, hoping he will make an out on a bad pitch to hit.

On a true intentional walk, the pitcher should pitch from the set position, come to his stop, check the runners and throw 3/4 speed fastballs shoulder high to his catcher, 2-3 feet outside the strike zone.

The catcher may stand up, hold his hand out for the target, but he must stay in the catcher’s box until the pitcher releases the ball.

On an intentional pass, all infielders and outfielders should cover their normal defensive area because the pitch could still be hit.

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Youth pitching program
One of the big misconceptions in baseball is that playing the game keeps you in shape to pitch. I wish that was true. It's not. To get to the next level, preparation matters. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.

If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my proven programs for pitchers of all ages.

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