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August 31, 2004

Can Barry Hit .400?

Breaking Down the Odds

by Keith Woolner

After both Derek Zumsteg and Joe Sheehan covered Ichiro Suzuki's chances at hitting .400 yesterday, I figured I'd take a quick look at Barry Bonds' chances of turning the trick.

Following Monday's loss to the Braves, Bonds has played in 117 games. He's racked up 112 hits in 305 AB, for a .367213 (.367) batting average. If he got hits in each of his next 17 AB, his average would stand at .400621, so he needs a minimum of 17 AB to reach .400.

He's played in 88% of the Giants' games, which if he continues to do so for the rest of the year, means about 26 more games. He's averaging 2.61 AB/G (and 1.56 BB/G), which would give him about 67 more at-bats the rest of the year.

What would he then need to hit over the next month to reach .400? For 67 AB, 37 hits (.552) would give him a .400538 batting average.

What about for other AB totals? Well, with 26 games left for the Giants, and assuming ~5-6 PA/game, the most AB Bonds could conceivably get is about 150, which itself would require a gigantic reversal of how he's being pitched to, and how often he walks. That said, let's look at how he'd have to perform at various levels of ABs up to 150 for the rest of the season to hit .400.

PROB is the probability of a batter with Bonds' 2004 current established level of .367213 batting average, hitting well enough in the specified number of AB remaining to reach a legitimate .400 batting average for the season (no rounding needed).


AB      H       AVG     YR_AB   YR_H    YR_AVG          PROB
17      17      1.000   322     129     0.400621        0.000004%
20      18      0.900   325     130     0.400000        0.000119%
30      22      0.733   335     134     0.400000        0.005006%
40      26      0.650   345     138     0.400000        0.026256%
50      30      0.600   355     142     0.400000        0.069050%
60      34      0.567   365     146     0.400000        0.130538%
70      38      0.543   375     150     0.400000        0.204812%
80      42      0.525   385     154     0.400000        0.286020%
90      46      0.511   395     158     0.400000        0.369471%
100     50      0.500   405     162     0.400000        0.451777%
110     54      0.491   415     166     0.400000        0.530659%
120     58      0.483   425     170     0.400000        0.604688%
130     62      0.477   435     174     0.400000        0.673049%
140     66      0.471   445     178     0.400000        0.735357%
150     70      0.467   455     182     0.400000        0.791519%

Somewhat surprisingly, Bonds is more likely to reach .400 the more AB he gets, rather than with fewer, because of the ground he'd need to make up. But based on how what he's done so far in 2004, it looks very unlikely (0.2% chance) that he'll pull his average up to .400.

A few more days like Sunday's 4-for-5, though, and he could make it interesting.

Keith Woolner is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Keith's other articles. You can contact Keith by clicking here

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