The designated hitter changes many things -- but no record seems to have a bigger split among leads than the one for intentional walks.
The Major League and National League record is 120 -- set by Barry Bonds in 2004. The American League record is nearly a fourth of that -- 33, done twice -- by John Olerud in 1993 and Ted Williams in 1957. It should be noted, of course, that this statistic wasn't kept until 1955, so Babe Ruth isn't on it (but he had some pretty decent protection in the Yankees lineup).
On Friday, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera became just the fourth American League player to ever receive 30 intentional walks in a season. In addition to Olerud and Williams, George Brett was intentionally walked 30 times in 1985.
It's a different story in the National League, where Barry Bonds had nine different season with 30 or more free passes, and Pujols has three.
MLB.com's Jason Beck had a good article on this today, with this great statistic -- entering Friday's game, one in every 14 intentional walks in the American League have been to Cabrera.
"Believe me, I don't care who hits behind Cabrera," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said told Beck. "I will walk him. We did it three times in Chicago [in mid-August]. We did it [Wednesday] night. We only failed once."
The fact the Tigers have had injuries and nobody near as fearsome as Cabrera in their lineup has led to the free passes. And that's why it worked for the Orioles on Friday.
After Austin Jackson tripled to lead off the seventh ina tie game, David Hernandez struck out Will Rhymes and got Johnny Damon to pop up before giving the free pass to Cabrera. Ryan Raburn then struck out to end the inning before the Orioles scored two in the eighth to take a lead.
"I try to impress upon him to just take it as the highest compliment you can get," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
So far this season, only one National League player, Albert Pujols, has more than 30 intentional walks. He's been given 34 free passes. Adrian Gonzalez is the only other NL player with more than 12, with 26. In the AL, Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer are tied for second with 13 intentional passes.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
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