Monday, August 19, 2013
Bobby Bonds' clutch 1973 season
By David Schoenfield
Last week, when Paul Goldschmidt beat the Orioles the with a game-tying home run in the ninth and then a walk-off in the 11th, I wrote that Goldschmidt had become just the ninth player since 1969 to record at least seven games in a single season with a Win Probability Added of 0.40 or higher.
For the uninitiated, Win Probability Added, or WPA, measures the change in probability of winning the game caused by each batter during the game. Admittedly, the 0.40 cutoff was used to favor Goldschmidt's heroics on the season. Anyway, the player with the most 0.40+ games in a season was Bobby Bonds of the 1973 Giants, with nine. Thanks to the magic of Baseball-Reference.com, we can go back and check out those nine games.
1. April 18: Giants 4, Braves 3 (0.401 WPA)
Went 3-for-6 with two runs and a walk-off home run in the 11th.
2. May 1: Giants 8, Pirates 7 (0.784 WPA)
Only went 1-for-4, but hit a game-winning three-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (the Giants scored seven runs in the inning).
3. May 6: Giants 11, Cubs 9 (0.533 WPA)
Went 3-for-6 with three runs and hit a two-run walk-off homer with two outs in the 11th.
4. May 8: Giants 9, Cardinals 7 (0.433 WPA)
Went 3-for-3 with two walks, three runs, five RBIs and two home runs.
5. May 12: Giants 5, Dodgers 4 (0.427 WPA)
Went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs and his leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth led to the winning run.
6. June 29: Giants 14, Astros 3 (0.482 WPA)
Giants trailed 3-1 in the seventh when Bonds pinch-hit with one out and hit a grand slam.
7. July 2: Giants 9, Braves 5 (0.429 WPA)
Giants trailed 3-2 in the seventh when Bonds hit a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs.
8. July 26: Giants 6, Padres 5 (0.475 WPA)
Went 1-for-3 with three walks, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the fourth and walk during the Giants' winning rally in the 10th.
9. Aug. 11: Giants 8, Mets 7 (0.630 WPA)
Went 3-for-7 with four RBIs, including a home run, a one-out triple in the seventh in which he scored the go-ahead run, and then the game-winning RBI single in the 13th.
By the way, Baseball-Reference has complete play-by-play data back to about 1950. No players from 1950 to 1968 can match Bonds' nine 0.40 WPA games in a single season.
Also, here are the career leaders for most 0.40 WPA games:
1. Willie Mays, 56
2. Barry Bonds, 55
3. Hank Aaron, 52
4. Harmon Killebrew, 50
5. Willie McCovey, 49
6. Frank Robinson, 46
7. Eddie Murray, 43
8. Bobby Murcer, 42
9. Mickey Mantle, 41
10. Carl Yastremski, Reggie Jackson and Mike Piazza, 40
Bobby Bonds is tied for 13th at 38, with Cesar Cedeno and Harold Baines.
Bonds' season in '73 didn't go unnoticed. He hit .283/.370/.530 with 39 home runs and 43 steals -- one of the great power/speed seasons ever -- and finished third in the MVP voting behind Pete Rose and Willie Stargell. Bonds was fourth among NL position players in WAR (Joe Morgan, Darrell Evans, Rose) and fourth in WPA behind Morgan, Stargell and Cedeno.