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January 29, 2013

Western Front

Pass the Bonds, Please

by Geoff Young

You may know Barry Bonds by the number 762. Something to do with home runs.

While the people who decide such things try to make sense of his legacy, here's another number: 688. That's how many intentional walks Bonds drew in his career.

Every year from 1991 to 2007 (except 1999 and 2005), Bonds finished first or second in the National League in that category. He led the league 12 times, including once for seven straight seasons.

I could go on, and I will. Oh look, a table:

Thing

Distance (feet)

Barry Bonds intentional walks

61,920

Sausalito Yacht Club to AT&T Park by car

58,080

Height of The Byrds in a 1966 song

42,240

Estimated* maximum depth of Mariana Trench

36,069

Estimated** height of Mt. Everest from sea level

29,029

*It could be deeper, we don't know.

**This is the source of some controversy whose answer largely depends on which government you ask.

That's right, Bonds traveled farther via intentional walk than Mt. Everest is high. Or than The Byrds were high. Wow, that's really high. Because they were stoned, get it?

But wait, we have more numbers:

9
This is how many times Greg Maddux intentionally walked Bonds. Nobody put Bonds on more often during his career. It helps that nobody faced him more often. In 157 plate appearances, Bonds hit .265/.376/.508 with nine homers off The Professor.

Honorable mention goes to Jeff Weaver, who gave Bonds six free passes in 19 trips to the plate. Bonds had a 2539 OPS against Weaver, so it was the right thing to do.

Guillermo Mota also deserves credit for perfection. Bonds faced Mota nine times: one homer, eight walks (five intentional). That's a 5000 OPS.

36
This is how many intentional walks Magglio Ordóñez drew in his career. Bonds drew more in a single season on six different occasions:

Player

Year(s)

PA

IBB

Barry Bonds

2004

617

120

Barry Bonds

2002

612

68

Barry Bonds

2003

550

61

Barry Bonds

1993

674

43

Barry Bonds

2007

477

43

Barry Bonds

2006

493

38

Magglio Ordóñez

1997-2011

7,745

36

80
This is the number of times Sid Fernandez and Bonds faced each other. Fernandez never intentionally walked Bonds. No one else has done so with more plate appearances. Dwight Gooden, a former teammate of Fernandez, is second with 75.

Paul Assenmacher and Chuck McElroy show up farther down the list. If you needed someone to retire Bonds, you could do worse than those two. He hit a combined .114/.171/.300 against them, with 18 strikeouts in 76 plate appearances. Even then, seven of his eight hits went for extra bases.

86
This is how many intentional walks Liván Hernández, the active leader, has issued in his career. Hernández faced Bonds 30 times and issued just one free pass. Bonds went 10-for-21 with four homers, so maybe that wasn't the optimal strategy.

110
This is how many unintentional walks Shawon Dunston drew from 1989 to 2002. That covered a span of 1,340 games and 4,435 plate appearances.

Dunston and Bonds played together for the Giants in 1996, 1998, and 2001-2002. Dunston drew five walks over those final two seasons. Bonds drew the same number on September 12, 2002.

113
This is how many intentional walks Bonds drew with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He ranks third in franchise history, behind Willie Stargell (227) and Roberto Clemente (167). Next on the list? Bill Mazeroski, with 110.

120
This is how many intentional walks Bonds drew in 2004, the most anyone has drawn in a single season. Bonds was intentionally walked four times in a game on four separate occasions that year.

Dunston drew four unintentional walks over the final 319 plate appearances of his career. That's the same number Alfredo Griffin drew in 442 plate appearances in 1984.

179
This is how many intentional walks Kent Tekulve issued in his career. Tekulve, the all-time leader (despite being pitching nearly 3,600 fewer innings, he edged Maddux by two), gave Bonds a free pass twice in 17 plate appearances. Tekulve also faced Barry's dad, Bobby Bonds, six times but never walked him intentionally or otherwise.

Tekulve's favorite player to walk? He put Dan Driessen on six times in 28 plate appearances and Will Clark on five times in half as many.

In case you're wondering, Bonds and Tekulve never played together. The Pirates drafted Bonds six weeks after trading Tekulve to Philadelphia.

267
This is how many intentional walks Albert Pujols, the active career leader, has drawn. At his current rate, Pujols will catch Bonds in 2031, at age 51.

395
This is how many intentional walks the Pirates drew from 1993 to 2002. In the decade after Bonds left Pittsburgh, there wasn't much to fear. Brian Giles led with 58, and he didn't arrive until 1999.

Bonds' successor in left field, Al Martin, was second with 30. It took Martin seven seasons to get two fewer free passes than Bonds got in his Pittsburgh finale.

The Pirates usually, but not always, beat Bonds during that period:

Year

Pirates

Bonds

1993

50

43

1994

29

18

1995

45

22

1996

46

30

1997

27

34

1998

22

29

1999

40

9

2000

41

22

2001

51

35

2002

44

68

420
This is how many total walks Lloyd Waner drew in his career. Add it to Pujols' career intentional walks and you're still one short of Bonds' intentional walks total, although that will change in 2013.

Waner ranks sixth in Pirates history with 2,317 hits. He is ahead of Stargell, and behind Max Carey and Pie Traynor. Bonds ranks 38th with 984. He is ahead of Kevin Young and behind Doggie Miller.

489
This is how many intentional walks Willie McCovey and George Brett drew in their careers combined. They out-homered Bonds, 838 to 762.

McCovey spent most of his career in San Francisco, playing alongside Willie Mays, Bonds' godfather. Brett? Well, Bonds' dad hit .300/.391/.650 with two homers against George's brother, Ken Brett, in 23 plate appearances.

539
This is how many intentional walks the San Francisco Giants drew from 1985 to 1992, the eight seasons immediately preceding Bonds' arrival. Will Clark led with 106 during that stretch.

Second? José Uribe with 80. No, I'm not kidding. Uribe hit .241/.299/.316 for the Giants, but 93 percent of his career plate appearances came batting eighth.

Still, 12 free passes in 1989 on a team with Don Robinson in the rotation (he outhomered Uribe that year, 3 to 1) seems excessive. One of Robinson's homers came after a two-out, four-pitch walk to Uribe that was not listed as intentional.

575
This is how many intentional walks Bonds drew with the Giants. Take the 539 San Francisco drew from 1985 to 1992. Add the 36 Ordóñez drew from 1997 to 2011. It's that number.

589
This is how many total walks Andre Dawson drew in his career. The most he ever drew in a three-year period was 114, from 1988 to 1990.

Add Griffin's total number of walks in 1984 and Dunston's in 1999 to Dawson's 1988-1990. That's how many intentional walks Bonds drew in 2004.

Take Dawson's career walks. Add Ordóñez's 36 career intentional walks. Now add José Canseco's 63. That's how many intentional walks Bonds drew in his career.

590
This is how many intentional walks Frank Robinson, Billy Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski drew. They out-homered Bonds, 1,464 to 762.

593
This is how many intentional walks Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Wade Boggs, and Jim Rice drew. They out-homered Bonds, 1,528 to 762.

596
This is how many intentional walks Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Johnny Bench, and Dawson drew. They out-homered Bonds, 1,958 to 762.

621
This is how many total walks Clemente drew in his career.

626
This is how many intentional walks NL pitchers issued in 1991. Bonds finished second that season to San Diego first baseman Fred McGriff.

The Padres once traded Roberto Alomar for McGriff. Add every intentional walk Alomar ever received to all NL walks issued in 1991. That's how many free passes Bonds drew in his career.

670
This is how many total walks Rice drew in his career.

679
This is how many intentional walks MLB pitchers issued in 1958. I'm not going to add the total number of career home runs hit by all who received one that year; that would be silly.

Also silly, but easier to calculate: Take the number of free passes Bonds' former teammate, Robby Thompson, received in his career. Add Thompson's total to the number issued in 1958.

Bet you think that's the number Bonds drew in his career. Nope, he leads by one:

Player/League

Year(s)

PA

IBB

Barry Bonds

1986-2007

12,606

688

MLB

1958

94,151

679

Robby Thompson

1986-1996

5,235

8

Good 'ol 1958. Nice try, buddy.

688
I already gave away the ending, so we should be done. A quick check of the Dewey Decimal System reveals that 688 represents “Other final products & packaging.”

Yep. We're done.

23 comments have been left for this article.

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