I was putting together a post on Marcus Semien's season and noticed that he hadn't been intentionally walked all season. I thought it must be strange for a player with 45 home runs not to be intentionally walked. So off to a Baseball Reference search.
There have only been two times a player has hit 45 or more home runs without an intentional walk. Marcus this year and Roger Maris in 1961 when he hit a, then, MLB record 61 home runs.
This all comes with the caveat that BR doesn’t have IBB for before the 1928 season, but there were only 6 seasons of 45+ home runs before that. Five by Babe Ruth (and nine after!) and one by Lou Gehrig (who had four after).
I likely don't have to tell you this, but Maris had future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle hitting behind him. And, for that matter, another Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was generally behind him.
Semien had Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero (in one order or another) hitting behind him most of the time. It would be nice to think they are future Hall of Famers.
If you are wondering, there were 145 times a batter has hit 45 or more home runs since 1928.
The most IBBs in a season was the 120 given to Barry Bond in 2004 (he also holds the two and three spots. After that, we had Willie McCovey in 1969 (45) and Albert Pujols in 2009 (44).
At the other end, only two players had 45+ home runs and were Intentionally Walked just once:
- Brady Anderson in 1996 (he had Roberto Alomar or Cal Ripken or Rafael Palmeiro hitting behind him most of the time)
- Mark Trumbo in 2016 (who was having a career year).
If you are looking for a Blue Jays season, Jose Bautista was only Intentionally Walked twice in 2010 when he had 54 home runs. He had the ever fearsome Vernon Wells hitting behind him most of the season. Wells did hit 31 home runs that year, but also, it was Jose's first big season. Bautista had 13 home runs the season before. So you can understand that opposing teams didn't understand what kind of hitter he was.
Other Blue Jays?
- George Bell was IBBed 9 times in 1987.
- Jose Canseco was IBBed 5 times in 1998.
- Vlad was IBBed 7 times this year.
If you were to move the goalposts a bit, there have been six MLB players who homered 40 or more times who weren't intentionally walked:
- Khris Davis (A's 2016)
- Alex Rodriguez (Mariners 1998, with Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez behind him)
- Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays 2015, with Jose and Edwin Encarnacion behind him)
- Curtis Granderson (Yankees 2011)
That 2015 was Donaldson's MVP season. But I'd check to see if that had happened before (even Rickey Henderson had two IBB in his MVP season), but I've spent long enough going down this rabbit hole.
Anyway, cool stat, right?