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Giants' Baseball

The Wild, Wild, Wild Card & Walking Bonds

The Wild, Wild, Wild Card

Hear me now: after this week's series against Milwaukee, the Giants only have games against contending teams. The Cubs have a much easier schedule, but have to make up games they missed during the hurricane. And Houston's 12-game winning streak brought a new wrinkle to the wild card race:

Tough Games / Other Games
San Francisco: 15 / 3
Chicago: 5 / 17
Houston: 9 / 9
San Diego: 13 / 6
Florida: 15 / 9

San Diego and Florida's are a few games back and have tough schedules, so the odds are against them. But barring something completely unexpected, this one will go down to the wire.

To IBB or not to IBB, that is the question...

A few weeks ago, I promised that I'd write some baseball game simulations that could be used to get to the bottom of the most pressing question in San Francisco this year: does it make sense for opposing managers to intentionally walk Barry Bonds in different situations?

I put together a typical Giants lineup: Durham, Mohr, Snow, Bonds, Alfonzo, Pierzynski, Grissom and Cruz, with the aggregate pitcher batting ninth, and had them play 1000 games against a team that never intentionally walked Bonds. I repeated the experiment and had the opposing pitchers follow several different strategies. The results are summarized below:

Strategy / Runs per Game
Never Walk Bonds: 5.80
Always Walk Bonds: 6.69
None On: 6.14
2 Out, None On: 5.81
Bases Loaded: 5.88
To load the bases: 5.82
Walk when 1B open: 5.82


The Giants are actually scoring 5.30 runs per game, which is just simulator laziness: my lineup plays every single day rather than sitting against tough lefties or getting a day off every other week. But what's important is the relative scoring level for each strategy, and none of the strategies are better than just pitching to Bonds.

Obviously, always walking Bonds is a terrible idea. Run scoring goes way up, and Edgardo Alfonzo drives in 150 runs a year. And walking him with none on and less than two outs is also a terrible idea. But every other strategy is also probably worse than actually pitching to him, and the more you walk him, the more runs the Giants will score. Rubber chicken? Nope. The strategy is just plain dumb.


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