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Can Bonds Top Aaron In 2006?

Barry Bonds needs 48 home runs to become the record holder.  With the recent relevation that 2006 will be his last season, it's almost become a foregone conclusion that he'll never hit #756.  Said Ken Rosenthal:

"If this season is Bonds' last, Aaron's mark almost certainly will be out of reach, saving MLB the embarrassment of celebrating a tainted slugger passing one of the game's most dignified greats."

Rosenthal pulls no punches in tonight's column, calling for Bonds to retire now and put everyone out of their misery.

Rather than engage in the typical judgment of Bonds as a person, I'm far more interested in his chances of pulling an upset and topping Aaron in 2006.  Bonds needs 47 to tie and 48 to own the record.

The over/under on games played for Bonds in 2006 is 120, a number thrown out by Giants GM Brian Sabean last October.  I don't want to get all crazy statistical on you here, so let's keep it simple and see how many games played Bonds might need to get those 48 HR.  Below is a handy chart; feel free to skip it if you hate numbers.

2005 52 5 10.40 14 3.71
2004 617 45 13.71 147 4.20
2003 550 45 12.22 130 4.23
2002 612 46 13.30 143 4.28
2001 664 73 9.10 153 4.34
2495 214 11.66 587 4.25

The PA/HR indicates how many plate appearances Bonds needed per HR that year.  You can see that his 2005 pace was his best since he set the single season record, though it's probably silly to draw conclusions from such a tiny sample.  But for the sake of argument, let's say Bonds performs at the exact same pace as 2005 this season.  In that case, he'd need to play in 135 games to break the record.  Don't you think he'd find a way to tolerate the pain and get into those extra 15 games?

In our example above, Bonds was getting less than four plate appearances per game.  Felipe Alou was careful with his superstar, as Bonds didn't play until September 12th.  Though he'll continue to be pulled early in 2006, let's say that Bonds agrees to bat second and somehow manages to get exactly four plate appearances per game.  It'd still be less than any of the four seasons before 2005.  In this case, Bonds would only need 125 games to break Aaron's record.

Bonds will need anywhere from 440 to 660 plate appearances to hit 48 home runs.  In the best case he'll go deep every ten plate appearances and in at the worst it might take fourteen.  It's all just a numbers game, but Bonds has an entirely legitimate chance to hit his 756th HR in 2006.

Bill James pegged Bonds's chance at 756 at 28% in his latest book, while A-Rod has a 37% chance.  Albert Pujols has a 16% likelihood.  So all the Bonds haters can take solace in the distinct possibility that one of today's untainted stars will glide right by his HR total in ten or fifteen years and even make it to 800.


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There something else to take into account regarding Bonds. As he gets closer to the record, his already-prodigious walk totals will climb even higher, as there will be dozens (hunderds?) of pitchers who will give him absolutely nothing to hit. I think that, if healthy, Bonds may see at least 200 walks this year, so I don't think there is any way he will break the record.

Bonds has clarified his statements. He says whether he plays beyond 2006 will depend entirely on whether his knees let him.

does anyone really believe bonds would retire needing only a few home runs to basically give the entire baseball world the middle finger. ill agree his chances arent great of breaking the record this year but he will be close if he is healthy. do you really think bonds would turn down the huge one year offer he would get. especially if he changed his mind about being tired of baseball once he gets back to actually playing. maybe this is just a great tactical move by bonds. if everyone thinks it is unlikely he breaks aarons record he will get smeared less in the media. then he has a "change of heart" in the offseason inks a 20 mil dollar deal with a title contender and puts up with crap for a couple months. then he can walk away from it all forever. unless mlb itself pressures him not to do it and they wont if selig is still in charge (just look at palmiero and his 3000 hits last year) then i really dont think bonds will leave that on table.

Problem is, Barroid Bonds might be walked more than God. Not only can't Bonds run (thus requiring no less than two hits to get him in), but an ancient Moises Alou is protecting him.

Also, I hate him. I've learned to project that hate into zeroeth-energy mind bullets. Thereby causing a diminishment in bat speed.

"So all the Bonds haters can take solace in the distinct possibility that one of today's untainted stars will glide right by his HR total in ten or fifteen years and even make it to 800."

A-Rod is a loathesome character, however, I give him more of a chance than Pujols. That plantar fascia issue will only get worse and A-Rod has never endured a major injury.

C'mon now, loathesome? Bland, sure, but so are a lot of guys.

"C'mon now, loathesome?"

I wish I still had the 5 hours of WFAN following his ostensibly game-killing double play in game 5 of the ALDS.

Imagine having to listen to that incessantly... and the comparisons to David Wright never quit. Remember also that A-Rod turned down the Mets several years back. Put everything together and, well, I have sufficient cause to loathe A-Rod.

Think Brant Brown level of loathing. He's so disingenous, I can't imagine someone could like the guy, great player or not.

Alright, fair enough. But I must say I still remember Brant fondly unlike most Cubs fans. He did hit .291/.348/.501 in 1998 and netted us Jon Lieber.

"But I must say I still remember Brant fondly unlike most Cubs fans. He did hit .291/.348/.501 in 1998 and netted us Jon Lieber."

Hmmm... I wonder if that play haunted him. He never did return to that level of production and fell off rather quickly. Was he a highly touted prospect at the time?

Kind of, but looking back it was probably Cubs-related hype. He was already 27 when he had that breakthrough season.

And, somewhere in Japan, Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes is maklng far more money than he deserves.


To play devil's advocate a bit:
On the one hand, it is obvious he is a widely loathed cheater and he will be pitched around, possibly even thrown at if he is hitting HR's at anything like his normal pace. On the other hand, remember we are dealing with an inhuman-franken-borg here. No. 707 he hit off the Nats John Patterson last year - it was a slider breaking in on him which was easily 6 inches off the plate when he hit and it clearly jammed him a bit.

Why is AROD's chance to break the record so low? Isn't he easily on pace to break it? I would think his percent would be at like 85%.

Well its low because it is going to take him 8 more years of equal production. Considering that 35% is real high. A-Rod has already said he doesnt know if he will keep playing after his huge contract is done and who knows if he gets hurt in that period or not. 8 years at least away is way too far to give a guy more then lke 30-40%

i think if arod handled the media like bonds does a lot of people would have thrown him under the steriod speculation bus. all the "highly technical" criteria everyone uses to tie people to steriods are there. played on west coast, gained significant muscle etc. yeah he never was never involved in this whole balco thing but who really knows what happened there. if they had concrete evidence of anything something would have happened by now. as far as im concerned while its highly likely bonds used some steriods at some point the most overlooked thing in his case is that if there was one player in mlb that could build his body like that without steriods it would be bonds. the only person possibly more capable would be arod and he did and isnt under steriod speculation.

Erik, Krivsky actually signed Rhodes for the Reds this winter...he's back

this relates to a later post as i was wondering about a couple potential free agents. Can someone post that site Monger posted a while back that detailed player contracts and when they would hit free agency?

alou has been an allstar the last two year.

"Erik, Krivsky actually signed Rhodes for the Reds this winter...he's back"

[Insert "Inept Reds Management" Joke Here]

I hope Barry plays two more years, because thats the contract I signed him to in my long term keeper league. I got him for well below league average, but had to add the second year. Me thinks if he is within 10 HR after this season, he'll be back next year. He can say "the record doesnt mean the most to me", but he'd be lying.

I was wondering if there is a projected deterioration of ability that we can assume for steroid users who give up the juice. If Bonds breaks down as fast as Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, wouldn't his projected numbers need adjusting?

Sure...but do we know that McGwire broke down because he was off the juice? When did testing begin? How could you possibly assign a number to that with a sample of maybe 2?

To his credit, Bonds looked pretty good in his brief stint in '05.

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