SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -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 against the New York Mets, the most likely date for the record breaker is now on 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. Right now, Bonds' homer rate the past two seasons is one every 17.6 plate appearances.
Davenport then gave Bonds a 95 percent chance of playing each home game and an 85 percent chance in road games, attributing the difference to the assumption that Bonds is more likely to play home games.
Bonds averaged about 3.8 plate appearances per game the past two seasons so Davenport used that figure in his study, with the most common result being three or four plate appearances a game.
Using those parameters, Bonds reaches the record in all 1 million seasons played out. But Davenport then added an injury factor, giving him a 1 percent chance of being hurt in any game, with the average injury lasting 10 games.
``That was an afterthought,'' he said. ``I did the whole thing through and said there is always a chance he gets hurt. This is a guy who missed almost all of the season the year before last. There's nothing saying his knee doesn't give way and miss the rest of the season.''
Davenport is planning on running updates about twice a week on the Baseball Prospectus Web site, allowing fans the opportunity to keep up with the chase as Bonds gets closer.
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On the Net: http://baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p380

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