Dave Pinto got me thinking with this post about Barry Bonds, so here’s my own quick-and-dirty experiment to see where Barry fits best. For sake of full disclosure, I said in October he would fit best in Anaheim, and recently suggested the Rays should roll the dice on him.
Assuming he would only have practical on-field utility to a contending team, and his value would be maximized as a DH, I only included AL teams that are projected to have winning records. That leaves us with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Indians, Tigers, and Angels.
The next step is to determine his value over the next best alternative for each club. We’ll assume that he would match last year’s 477 plate appearances and 55.2 VORP, although I think he’d have a great shot at beating both as a strict DH.
The tricky part is determining who he would replace in each team’s lineup. If we’re not considering defense at all, here’s the list (VORP/477 is projected VORP per 477 plate appearances, courtesy of PECOTA. VUBB is “Value Under Barry Bonds” for those 477 PAs):
Keep in mind, this list assumes Frank Thomas, Travis Hafner, and David Ortiz are regulars at first base. Yikes.
Being a bit more realistic:
A couple notes. First off, Juan Rivera projects better than Garret Anderson offensively, but slightly worse than Gary Matthews Jr., which is why he makes both lists. Also, an argument could be made that the Yankees would be better off with Johnny Damon in left field in place of Hideki Matsui, assuming Bonds was the DH. I, however, will not be making that argument.
Obviously, I’m not surprised that the Angels top this list. I’ve said from the start that they would be the most logical fit, if we were in a vacuum.
The Tigers certainly jump out, as well. With Thames and Jacque Jones platooning, that number may actually be a bit smaller, but it’s significant nonetheless. But if there’s any team with chemistry concerns, it’s Detroit, who could start a nuclear war by putting Bonds and Gary Sheffield in the same locker room.
The Yankees’ situation is also a bit complicated, albeit for more benign reasons. With Melky Cabrera locked in at center field (for now, at least), the Yankees are left with Jason Giambi, Damon, and Matsui to cover first base, left field, and DH, respectively. Damon and Matsui have played a combined six games at first base in their careers (all by Damon in the last two seasons), so if Joe Girardi wants to move Giambi off of first, one of the three has to sit. Adding Bonds as an everyday DH could potentially leave two of the three on the bench, with the Yankees more or less eating $30 million+ in salary. From a pure optimization standpoint, Bonds would certainly have value, but I’m not sure if the Yankees would be willing to take that hit.
Three of these teams (the Angels, Rays, and Yankees) should seriously consider this. Winning doesn’t always breed chemistry, but it’s definitely worth a shot.
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