A free pass anywhere, even just to first base, is always a pleasure. Baseball has the intentional walk for this. The New York Mets record for the most intentional walks in a single season isn’t a well-known one.
In 1988, the mighty Mets had many threats in the starting lineup. However, it was Howard Johnson who was walked intentionally the most. With 25 intentional bases on balls thrown his way, Johnson surpassed the previous Mets record held by Willie Montanez. He was intentionally walked 19 times in 1978.
Howard Johnson owns the Mets record for most intentional walks in a season
Johnson wasn’t alone in breaking Montanez’s record in 1988. Teammate Darryl Strawberry was walked intentionally 21 times that same year. The potent Mets offense didn’t need free passes to score runs. Nonetheless, pitchers often gave them an extra runner—no one more than Johnson.
Within the top 10 of most intentional walks in a season by Mets players, Johnson’s name appears twice. One year earlier, HoJo walked 18 times. He fell one shy of tying Montanez’s franchise record.
In the years since, some obvious suspects have fallen within the top 10. Carlos Delgado, with 19 in 2008, is tied with Montanez for third as is Mike Piazza from the 2001 season.
Most interesting of all from the top 10 is another member of the 2001 Mets. Rey Ordonez, who almost always found himself batting eighth in the lineup, was issued 17 free passes. The strategy was to put him on base and deal with the pitcher instead. Still, he’s a major outlier from the rest of the names we do and would expect to see on a list like this.
Pete Alonso is the most recent player to climb into the top 10. His 16 intentional walks in 2022 tied him for eighth with Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, and David Wright. Combined with all of his hit by pitches in 2022 as well, Alonso didn’t have nearly as many chances to hit home runs. Instead, he was settling for some easier trips to first base. In the case of the 16 intentional walks, it was partly some fear from the opposing team.
Can we blame them? Like Johnson on the 1988 Mets when he set a franchise record, it’s the sluggers who tend to draw the most intentional bases on balls.