Barry Bonds in 2004 was intentionally walked 120 times. This is far and away the record. The only player who has ever been walked HALF that many times in a season is also named Barry Bonds.
He has the top three spots on the intentional walks list, six of the top 10 spots, the only other two names in that top 10 are Willie McCovey and Albert Pujols.
Today is Bonds’ 54th birthday, and so let’s go back to 2004 and see, based on percentage, how often Barry Bonds was walked based on how many men were on base.
No one on: 6.3% (19 of 302)
— This about this for a minute: In 1969, when Willie McCovey became the most feared hitter in baseball, he was intentionally walked 45 times. That was the record by a lot — the accepted record was 33, set by Ted Williams in 1957. It was crazy how scared people were of McCovey then. They intentionally walked him in seven percent of his plate appearances.
In 2004, pitchers walked Bonds on more than 6% of his plate appearances WITH THE BASES EMPTY.
Man on 1st: 8.7% (11 of 126)
— In 2018, so far, do you know many times a hitter has been walked with a man on first base? Three. That three times in 21,038 plate appearances or, basically one hundredth of a percent.
Man on 2nd: 71.2% (52 of 73).
— Bonds was intentionally walked more than two out of three times he came to the plate with a man on second. What happened the 21 times they pitched to him? He hit .312 with a double, a triple and two home runs.
Man on 3rd: 55.6% (10 of 18)
— More than half the time when there was a man on third base.
Men on 1st and 2nd: 15.1% (8 of 53)
— “Hey, Skip, what do you think here? Pitch to Barry Bonds or load the bases?”
Men on 2nd and 3rd: 87.5% (14 of 16)
— Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Bases loaded: 0 for 7
It’s actually amazing — you probably know that Bonds was intentionally walked once with the bases loaded. What you might not remember is that it actually happened in 1998, BEFORE Bonds broke the home run record, BEFORE he was putting up what people now consider the silly numbers, BEFORE the core narrative even has him taking PEDs.
It was Buck Showalter who did it (naturally). Two outs, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and the Giants trailing by four. Gregg Olson, the Diamondbacks closer, had been getting roughed up. Showalter ordered Olson to be intentionally walked, scoring a run, and putting the tying run on first base.
Brent Mayne then lined out to deep right-center to end the game. I hated the move because I hate all intentional walks. There is some math that suggests it was sensible. There is other math that suggests it wasn’t. I think the more incredible thing is that, considering what Barry Bonds became, it never happened again.