The real reason the Giants didn’t sign Barry Bonds*

I know why the Giants didn’t keep Barry Bonds* around.  And no, it had nothing to do with steroids.  OK, maybe it did.  It had nothing to do with the fact that he was said to be a jerk in the clubhouse.  OK, maybe it did.  It had nothing to do with collusion.  Or maybe it… anyway.  I say that the real reason that the Giants didn’t re-sign Barry Bonds* was actually… Fred Lewis?

Let’s consider for a moment the total value of a baseball player, his hitting, fielding, and baserunning prowess, along the same lines that Justin Inaz has suggested.  If we just look at hitting prowess, Bonds* vs. Lewis is no contest.  But let’s see what happens when we consider fielding and baserunning in the equation.

Take a look at what Bonds* did in 2007 and what Lewis did in 2008.  Both played primarily in left field.  I used BRAA for hitting totals (yeah, yeah, yeah), OPA! for fielding, and Baseball Prospectus’s equivalent baserunning runs system, I believe originally developed by current Pirates stats guru Dan Fox.

In 2007, Bonds* was rated at 43.91 BRAA, but was 4.32 runs below average in left field and 1.52 runs below average on the basepaths.  That’s a grad total value of 38.07 runs

In 2008, Lewis was rated at 8.46 BRAA, but was 20.58 runs above average in left field and 4.92 runs above average on the basepaths.  Total value 33.96 runs.

So the difference between Bonds* of 2007 and Lewis in 2008 was about 4 runs.  That’s probably a lot closer than you might have thought.  Sure, Bonds* had the better season in 2007, but figure that his knees would only bring his fielding (and had he signed with the Giants, he would have had to play left field) and baserunning down.  Even if his hitting stayed steady, Barry would have been a lesser player in 2008.

We do know that outfield defense is unstable, and so Lewis’s big number there might be a little more luck than anything, but he did make those extra plays… so in terms of performance, maybe the Giants didn’t miss Barry Bonds* as much as you might have thought last year.


6 Responses to The real reason the Giants didn’t sign Barry Bonds*

  1. wrveres says:

    i know you think you are all cute with that little asterisk and everything, but I just took you off my rss feed reader because of it.
    good day sir

  2. Peter Jensen says:

    Dewan’s plus/minus only has Lewis at +6 plays enhanced or +4.8 runs. They had Bonds at -11 plays or -8.8 runs in 2007. But whatever defensive metric is right, it is still hard for you to argue that SF wouldn’t have been a much stronger team in 2008 with Bonds. Lewis missed a bunch of playing time in 2008. Combined Lewis and Bonds could have covered most of the innings in left field, with Lewis getting extra playing time in the other outfield positions. SF could have also utilized each player where their strengths would have been most valuable. Lewis as a defensive replacement or running replacement for Bonds in the late innings and Bonds as a pinch hitter when he wasn’t a starter. Not one of your stronger posts Pizza.

  3. Pizza Cutter says:

    Peter, I can’t argue with the points you make strategically, although my purpose (other than apparently grousing commenter #1 with my asterisk) had more to do with showing to the people fixated on Bonds*’s batting stats that there is some value in Lewis’s defensive prowess and better speed. When you consider everything, the difference between the two men wasn’t as huge as might be expected just by looking at their names.

  4. Doug Gray says:

    Really, someone suggesting that Bonds* needs an * because he DID use PED’s and admitted to such to the grand jury is enough for you to remove someone from your feed? Well I guess thats your choice, but man (or woman, I really don’t know) you need to thicken up your skin a little bit.

  5. dan says:

    I’m pretty sure Pizza has been using the asterisk next to BB’s name for quite a while now. I guess you can’t please them all.

  6. Alex says:

    i find the asterisk irritating myself. it’s pushy and, for me, seems to command attention, shifting focus from the author’s central point to his condemnation of bonds’ ped use (which, obviously, is a major issue, but he’s one of many, being kept out of the league, etc, etc – just saying i’d much rather read this article, which i think did make a decent point, for the point and not for any asterisks.)

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