Why Do Intentional Walks Seem Redundant? Blame the Catcher

I am not anti-catcher. Sure, they don't usually hit as well as the left fielder or third baseman. Sure, they don't play as many games as the shortstop. Sure, they need a roster spot reserved for a backup. Sure, they get injured a lot.

They are also a very important part of any team. A good catcher can make his entire pitching staff better. He can give his team a few extra strikes, block balls in the dirt, and say the right thing to the right pitcher at the right time to stop the big inning. Catchers also make great team leaders (see Jason Variety or Carlton Fisk).

Now that I have established my respect for the "2", I am going to call every one of them cheaters and blame an entire issue of contention on them. That's right, the debate over intentional walks is solely the fault of major league catchers (yes, and the umpires who don't call them out for cheating). I am not the first person to do so; I am carrying on the fight to OTM.

Official rule 5.03 a) states that catchers can't leave the catcher's box until the pitcher has released the pitch. If he does, it is a balk.

The reason why intentional walks in today's seem too automatic is because, without fail, catchers are out of their box before the release of each pitch. They often will set up by standing well outside the box and presenting a target for their pitcher that the batter has absolutely no chance of hitting. As such, intentional walks are uneventful 99.8% of the time. By allowing catchers to get away with this breach of rules, umpires have eliminated a lot of the risk behind one of the more unusual quirks in baseball.

Here's the takeaway. If catchers were required to stay in their box until the pitch was released, pitchers would be required to lob their intentional walk pitches far closer to the plate than they currently do. This would lead to both a smaller margin of error for the pitcher and a greater opportunity to play spoiler for the batter. The threat of balk would keep catchers in line. If major league umpires started enforcing rule 5.03 a), there would be no need to get rid of the intentional walk. Did you know this rule exists and do you agree or disagree with me? There is a poll below.