October 20, 2002

Intentionally walking Barry Bonds is Dumb.: As great as Barry is, he makes an out nearly 50% of his plate appearances. He was just intentionally walked in an inning where the Giants scored two runs with two outs; it's a great example of what this article is talking about.

posted by tieguy to baseball at 09:32 PM - 6 comments

Yeah, but what does he do the other 50 percent? Think about it. Suppose in the 9th inning of game 2 just now, Aurelia or Kent had been on base. If you don't intentially walk Bonds, you're giving the Giants a real good chance of tieing the game. A much better chance, I'd say, than if you walk him and make Santiago et al. manufacture the runs.

posted by ajax at 11:21 PM on October 20, 2002

Bill James ran some numbers through a computer simulation for his New Historical Baseball Abstract (mentioned in the link briefly). In his test, he put Babe Ruth in a lineup with a "worse than realistic" offense around him. He slightly modified Ruth's numbers to give him a .385 batting average and a .862 slugging average (compared to his numbers in 1921). He ran the team through 1000 simulated seasons where the opposition ALWAYS walked him, and 1000 where the computer pitched to him in a normal fashion (but would walk him where it made sense). Average runs scored where Ruth is walked every time: 667 (over 1000 seasons) and a team winning % of .380 Average runs scored where Ruth has a chance to bat: 601 (over 1000 seasons) and a team winning % of .326 Like Bill James says (and the article quotes), "There is no such thing as a hitter so good that he should be routinely walked." That said... Holy moon-rockets, Batman! Did you see that home run by Bonds in the 9th? When a slugger on the opposing team says "That's the farthest ball I've ever seen hit." (as Salmon mouthed and the FOX in-your-face cameras caught), you know he crushed it. I think Bonds has to have completely shaken off the "choke" label now. .303/.528/.909 6HR 14R 12RBI And there are at least 3 more games to go.

posted by grum@work at 12:15 AM on October 21, 2002

I'd walk him everytime just to piss people off. Go halos!

posted by corpse at 06:55 AM on October 21, 2002

There is good reason to walk him in many situations; the flaw in James' theories (and other sabermetricians who weighed on this topic i/r/t Mark McGwire as well) is they assume an all- or- nothing approach. Instead of always walking Bonds, what if you only walk Bonds if a) it's a tie or one run game and first-base is empty, or b) if there's runners on base in a close-and-late situation? This is the situation the Angels used last night, and most teams have been using; while normally walks burn you, and while most of the time Bonds will not have Troy Percival grooving it in just to see how far Bonds will hit it on a thigh-high fastball (now we know- and what were you thinking, Troy, that's just plain stupid- 2 outs is still enough to get that second run across if you misplace a fastball to Santiago), a modified "Walk Bonds" method could actually be beneficial. Don't forget, Bonds was the best hitter in the league, yet despite his 198 walks did NOT lead the league in runs. That fact alone says "walk him when it's not directly suicidal"; of course, Murphy's law says in one of the games at SF, the Angels will end up facing Bonds with runners on base for a change- like tie game, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth. :) Bonds reaches base more than 55% of the time, but ~35% of the time he'll reach second because of his at-bat (double, triple, or homerun); if you can guarantee that he doesn't reach second (from a passed ball or a steal, far less likely now than earlier in his career), and especially if there are 1 or 2 outs, you're asking for one or both of two sub-.300 hitters to get the guy home. The odds of scoring with a runner- Bonds- on 1st and 1 out are 53%; the odds of scoring with Bonds on second and 1 out are 68%. That's not insignificant! Given the rest of the Giants lineup, generally speaking the gulf between Bonds and everyone else is so great, it's perhaps better to give them the free baserunner and face 8 guys who aren't as dangerous. Look how often Bonds has led off an inning in this post-season; if Whitey McSuckass, Texas Ranger (aka "Rick Reilly's girlfriend") wasn't hitting like a relief pitcher, this wouldn't be the case and the "Walk Bonds" theory wouldn't hold water. See, if Bonds had a dangerous hitter behind him or runners on base in front of him, this would be the worst strategy in the world- like Ruth had with Gehrig. But he doesn't, so I'd argue it's not dumb, although frustrating to watch. Go Giants!

posted by hincandenza at 10:11 AM on October 21, 2002

Salmon mouthed and the FOX in-your-face cameras caught That was cool, but my favorite candid moment was when they caught Dusty Baker yelling "one motherfucking run," when the Giants closed to 5-4. I love Dusty Baker.

posted by kirkaracha at 11:53 AM on October 21, 2002

Actually, I read his lips as saying "one more freaking run". His kid was standing nearby, and I have to figure he tones down the swearing a bit when he's around. But you could be right. For all the cool candid moments those cameras might bring us, we end up with too many moments where we can see a whitehead forming in a pore on the batter/pitcher/coach's face. I know it's for the post-Series video/DVD collection, where they show closeups while running tension-building/dramatic music, but I don't want to become an amateur dermatologist by the end of the series.

posted by grum@work at 12:57 PM on October 21, 2002

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