San Francisco — For fans cheering against Barry Bonds as he approaches Hank Aaron's home run record, there is some hope. For those wishing to be there in person if Bonds breaks the record, there is some help.
Baseball Prospectus crunched the numbers and played out the rest of the San Francisco Giants' season 1 million times, figuring out which day Bonds is most likely to hit his 756th career home run and what the chance is he won't do it at all this season.
After all the calculations, there was one big revelation for author Clay Davenport.
"I was surprised that the numbers for not making it this year were as high as they were," he said.
Bonds' recent 14-game homerless drought increased his chances of failing to set the record this season from 5.5 percent to 8.9 percent. But by hitting No. 746 on Sunday against Colorado, Bonds now has just a 7.4 percent chance of falling short, according to Davenport's calculations.
Heading into Tuesday night's game against the New York Mets, the most likely date for the record breaker is June 29 in a home game against Arizona, with a 3.6 percent chance. Not that Davenport is suggesting anyone rush out to buy a ticket to that game expecting a record-breaker.
There's about a three in 10 chance that Bonds will set the record during San Francisco's nine-game homestand from June 22-July 1 and a better-than-even chance he'll do it before the All-Star break.
"I'm pretty confident in the method, but if you look at it, the spread is enormous," he said. "The day with the best possible chance of him making it is only about 3 percent. That's the single most common day. Even if you buy tickets to every game in a three-game series you barely reach 10 percent."
Before playing out the 1 million seasons, Davenport had to figure out how often Bonds would play, how many plate appearances he would get each game and how often he'd homer.
"The toughest part was settling on which steps to use," he said. "What do you use to figure out the chance that he will hit a home run right now. This year's numbers, last year's numbers, some combination. There are so many different ways to do it. All of them are reasonable choices. It was just a matter of settling on the most reasonable choice."
Davenport decided on combining Bonds' stats from the past two seasons, with 2007 getting more weight the more plate appearances Bonds gets this season.