According to one projection system, the Rays are a 92-win team with Bonds…

A few weeks ago, news broke that the Rays had brought up Barry Bonds’ name in internal discussions of available free agents. At the time we made it clear that it was highly unlikely that the Rays would pursue the all-time home run king. We cited the recent clubhouse headache cast-offs, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes as well as the overall image-conscious nature of the Rays front office.

While we argued that the Rays wouldn’t sign Bonds, we never said whether or not the Rays should sign Bonds. The truth is we truly understand both sides of the argument. We loathed Keyshawn Johnson but we were sure glad he was around to help the Bucs win the Super Bowl. Would we feel the same about Bonds? If he helped the Rays make the playoffs, then ‘hell yes’. And now that we know that Rocco Baldelli will start the season on the DL and his career is in jeopardy, signing Bonds may no longer be a luxury item, he might be a necessity. And as they say, ‘necessity is the mother of Barry’s Barcalounger’ (or something like that).

Many argue that Bonds is a difference-maker. They argue he is the type of impact player that could help put the Rays over-the-top and into the playoffs. But what isn’t clear, is exactly how much of an impact one team could truly expect from adding Bonds to the lineup.

To answer this question, we contacted Chone Smith of Anaheim Angels all the way. Smith is the creator of the CHONE projection system. Smith uses those projections to run a full simulation of the 2008 season. In those projections, the Rays are predicted to win 89 games and finish in third place, 3 games behind the Yankees and the Red Sox. They noted that the vast improvement was do in most part to improved pitching and defense.

So we asked Smith to insert Bonds into the Rays lineup and rerun the projections. He obliged, removing Baldelli from the roster and making Bonds the most-days DH.

According to the CHONE projection system, the Rays would score 36 more runs in 2008 with Bonds in the lineup. In the field the Rays would surrender 7 more runs on defense due to increased playing time for Gomes and Floyd in right field. Overall the Rays would be projected to win 3 more games which ups their win total to 92…smack dab in the middle of the playoff hunt.

As a point of comparison, we also asked Smith to run the same projection if Bonds were signed by the Mets, another team in need of outfield help. In this case, he removed Moises Alou and inserted Bonds. The change meant 30 more runs for the Mets and an increase from 92 to 95 wins in the standings.

This seems to indicate that even though he will be 43 years old and has two bad knees, Barry Bonds is still worth at least 3 wins over the course of an entire season over an above-average player. That number may be more like 5-7 wins over a replacement-level player. According to Baseball Prospectus, Bonds was worth 6.2 wins in 2007 over a replacement-level player. In only 126 games, the 42 year old Bonds hit .276-28-66 with a .480 OBP. His 170 OPS+ would have led the NL had he not come up about 30 plate appearances short of qualifying.

Should the Rays attempt to sign Bonds if they can get him at a discount rate? If you think that the Rays are indeed an 88-89 win team, then the answer should be ‘Yes’, because Bonds might indeed be the difference between the 2007 Brewers (just missed) and the 2007 Rockies (World Series).

[Ed. note: An excellent question was brought up in the comments that we don’t have the answer for, but raises a good point. The Rays were an 89-win team (projected) with Rocco. They are probably more like an 86-87 win team with Jon Weber or John Rodriguez. So right now, Bonds would actually be worth approximately 5-6 wins if you consider that he is in reality replacing Weber or Rodriguez.]

Marc Topkin Wants You To Believe That It Is Possible For Barry Bonds To Sign With The Rays [Rays Index]
Signing Barry Bonds Would Go Against Everything The Rays Have Done The Past Two Years [Rays Index]
Finally, the hitter projections [Anaheim Angels all the way]
AL projected standings [Anaheim Angels all the way]
The Devil Rays, how they will go from the cellar to contenders [Anaheim Angels all the way]
Barry Bonds [Baseball Prospectus]



  1. Anonymous says:

    dude. now you are just messing with my head. I was completely against Bonds coming to the Rays and i still think he will be a huge headache, but using the words Rays and playoffs in the same sentence has me at least second-guessing myself. thanks. i hate you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    three wins is not worth the circus OR Pedro Gomez

  3. Clayton says:

    I agree. 3 wins is not worth it. And I doubt the CHONE projections figure in the detrimental effect his presence has on the rest of the guys. I still say that if the DRO thinks this is a good idea, I will get on board, but my gut is against it.

  4. Tommy R. says:

    Excellent Idea to have Chone do this Cork. 92 wins...I may faint

  5. Possum Avenger says:

    Unfortunately, CHONE can only factor in the measurable benefits of the Bonds (i.e. hitting stats). What are, in general considered the negatives of Bonds (media circus,poor in the clubhouse) and how they will effect the team cannot be measured by this system. It is these intangibles that I worry about with Bonds. I don't think very many are doubting that he would be a better DH than Floyd. The question is would his supposedly detrimental effect in other areas override any benefit his bat may bring. Stats and simulations simply can't answer this question for us. And that is the beauty of baseball.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What are we projected at now--without Baldelli for the year but with Gomes/Floyd more?

    Also, what about Kenny Lofton?

  7. The Professor says:

    PA, you are absolutely correct and the question i am trying to raise here is exactly that. it is one thing to take Bonds on and go from 78 to 81 wins or from 82 to 85 wins. if that is the case, I am completely against it. but if the difference truly is 89 to 92 or even 87 to 90...well in my mind then you really need to at least have a serious debate. i am still not sold on the idea, but this sure does warm me up to the idea.

    anon, these are good questions, but I do not have the answer. Chone was kind enough to run these, i did not want to inundate him with every possible scenario.

    However, we can imagine that subtracting Baldelli and inserting a replacement-level player would actually cost the team 2-3 wins. so the Rays might actually be a 86 win team right now, 92 with Bonds.

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Ben says:

    92 wins? sweet fancy moses!

  10. Possum Avenger says:


    My point was not are the three wins worth the "hassle" of having the media around and seeing Bonds' big head and his three lockers everyday. My point is that perhaps these three wins aren't even really three wins. This calculation is based entirely on his stats as far as I can tell, which does not take into account off the field negative actions which could indirectly cause the team to lose games due to poor chemistry, etc. Such "negative" actions are impossible to quantify, yet I am a firm believe they exist. However, because they are not taken into account in the statistical formula I am suspect that Bonds will really add three wins to the Rays. If we could be certain he would add three wins, I agree that going from 89 to 92 wins would be worth it. I just don't think we can be certain, or even confident, that he will add those wins. Statistical models are just that -- models. As far as they have come they still are a long way from being truly "representative," particularly in a game as dynamic as baseball.

    I liked the post though and think it brings up a very interesting issue.

  11. The Professor says:

    that is definitely a fair argument. but most comments i have ever heard from players is that they want to win and they want the best players.

    I have always thought the theory that Bonds would be a bad influence on younger players was probably not true or minimal at best.

    I doubt he would be a positive influence, BUT...i doubt players would worry too much about the preferential treatment. if Cliff Floyd (or similar player) came in and did it I think it would be more of a problem because they are not an all-time great. ut in the case of bonds, I think the players realize talent-wise he is above almost everybody else. he is an all-time great and i think players realize if you are THAT good, you deserve preferential treatment. they just dont want to see it go to a player that doesn't deserve it.

    and then there is the thought that the rest of the players would have a chance to play under the spotlight for once. a spotlight brought by Bonds' presence. most Rays play in relative anonymity. With Bonds around they will have more fans in the seats and more games on national TV and more national exposure. that is good for all the players.

    in the end, i think for the most part, players would be on board with having Bonds.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I'm a Giants fan through and through, so take this with a grain of salt, but I'm rooting for the Rays to sign Bonds. The man is a game-changer. Think about managers pitching around Bonds and then walking him to get to PENA!

    Is he the healthiest guy in the world? No! But he won't clog the bases...his insticts are still amazing and it's not like he's as slow as Bengie Molina or anything. As for the media circus/bad attitude/etc. it's just a matter of whether or not you're willing to take a risk. One year isn't going to hurt the team in the long run. And they just aren't a realistic contender without a guy like Bonds. The Red Sox and Yankees don't have many holes.

    Plus, Crawford and Upton already said they're down for Bonds. Just think about what the line-up could look like! Oh, and also, the Giants sucked with or without Bonds last year. When the Giants had good years it was because of Bonds. When they didn't it was because of Brian Sabean and his absurd signings.

  13. iwillbeginagain says:

    Nice post.

    Someone should sign him already. And as far as intangibles with Barry Bonds, they far more positive than negative. He distracts opposing pitchers and game plans far more than the media can possibly distract his team. It's not basketball. Everybody gets their turn. In the distant past, he didn't share the secrets of his approach but he has in recent years. Last year, he spent one-on-coaching time with Frandsen because he was tooling along at about a .500 OPS and Frandsen credited him with his .900 OPS the last two month. Lots of teammates and even pitchers have said the same thing about how well he communicates skills and approach, though of course the player has to have the talent to execute.

    A team having the guy who knows what he's doing better than anyone else is at a real advantage. All the others have to do is pay attention.

    Media scrutiny is only hard if you suck. If you're good, it's fun.

  14. Scot Gould says:

    Just a thought...if we accept the predictions from Baseball Prospectus where the Rays are at 89, the Red Sox are at 90 and the Tigers at 91 wins, adding 3 games to a team with 89 wins means the difference of moving from less than 20% chance of making the playoffs to possibly more than 50%. Now we are in the range where each win is worth nearly $3 million.

  15. The Professor says:

    That is the question. Normally, I would say 'No' to spending that much for 3 wins especially with the baggage, but if 3 wins is the difference in August and September, then it might be worth it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    iwillbeginagain hit it perfectly...the one thing Im sure the CHONE projections also can't take in is how Bonds affects how others are pitched. Even at his old age, he is still a game changer, and someone in the lineup that opposing pitchers are going to worry about. How much better will Penas stats be with someone in front of him on base almost half the time? How much better will Uptons stats be? Crawfords? Even without projections, Bonds in the middle of the Rays lineup makes them a definite playoff contender.


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