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5.13.2004

The Dodgers' Year and Stark Numbers 

Every once in a while you see little signs that tell you it just might not be your day, or month, or year. Or worse, it might instead be your worst enemy's day, month, or year.

Like last night. Not only did Wilson Alvarez continue to confound all logic with another superb spot start for the Dodgers, but Alex Cora fouled off 14 pitches in a row against the Cubs' Matt Clement before hitting a home run.

One question for Jim Tracy, though: why is this man and his .305 OBP batting leadoff and Cora with his .370 OBP (and .808 OPS--wow!) batting eighth?

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Instead of his usual Useless Crap®, Jayson Stark of ESPN has finally posted some numbers that really get to the heart of game strategy. On the subject of Bonds' intentional walks, Stark gets some help from the Blue Jays' resident stat geek:

Even though the hitters behind Bonds have made this strategy look good, it's still a debatable way to go.

If you ignore the intentional walks and look at Bonds' other 93 plate appearances this year, you find that 48 percent of the time, he has made an out. Three times, he has made two outs (by grounding into a double play).

25 percent of the time, he has walked. "So in 73 percent of his plate appearances," Law said, "the outcome was equal to or better than an intentional walk."

Obviously, Law concedes, game score and situation can change this equation. But in general, he concluded, "when you intentionally walk Barry Bonds, it's like playing a roulette wheel where 27 percent, or fewer, of the spaces are black and 73 percent are red -- and you're betting on black."


Unfortunately, Stark buries this info about 5/6 of the way down the page after bombarding us with ridiculous, fantasyland rule-change scenarios. In fact, the true voice of wisdom in the column comes from AJ Pierzynski:

"There is no solution to the problem," said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, one of the guys who has had the thrill of hitting behind Bonds this year, "except for me and Fonzy (Edgardo Alfonzo) and (Pedro) Feliz to hit -- and hit well."



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