The Bonds Rule: Walk him

The Arizona Diamondbacks have figured out a way to deal with Barry Bonds. They don't deal with him.

Not that it really helps. The Diamondbacks intentionally walked Bonds three times in their weekend series -- raising his season total of intentional walks to 55 -- and pitched around him in other situations, but still managed to lose ground in the wild-card race.

Arizona intentionally walked Bonds nine times this year, more than any other team. To understand what an enormous concession this is, consider that Alex Rodriguez -- the player who may one day challenge the home run records of Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Bonds -- collected nine intentional walks in his first seven seasons in the majors.

Opponents often pitch around Bonds, bouncing breaking balls in the dirt or throwing neck-high fastballs in a feeble attempt to get him to swing. But mostly, they just put him on base.

An examination of his 55 intentional walks reveal that opposing managers do not walk Bonds to protect leads. Only nine of his intentional walks were issued when the other team was ahead -- and only once when an opponent had a lead of three runs or more (on July 21, Arizona manager Bob Brenly had Bonds walked with the Diamondbacks leading, 4-1, and two runners on base; the Diamondbacks would eventually lose that game).

More often, opposing managers will use the walk to prevent Bonds from adding to a San Francisco lead. On 22 occasions, Bonds was walked with the Giants leading. He has been walked 24 times with the score tied.

Many of Bonds' walks come early in games, rather than late. He's drawn 10 intentional walks in the first inning, one in the second inning (owing to the typical cycle of a lineup, and 13 intentional walks in the third inning.

The intentional walks have mostly helped to end San Francisco rallies. The Giants did not score following 38 of the 55 intentional walks.

Below is the raw data of when Bonds has been intentionally walked this season:

Nobody out: 5
One out: 18
Two outs: 32

Intentional walks according to location of baserunners:
No one on: 5
Runner on first: 3
First and second: 2
Bases loaded: 0
Runner on second: 20
Second and third: 14
First and third: 3
Runner on third: 8

Intentional walks according to the score:
Trailing by four or more runs: 3
Trailing by three runs: 7
Trailing by two runs: 2
Trailing by one run: 10
Score tied: 24
Opponents leading by one run: 6
Opponents leading by two runs: 2
Opponents leading by three runs: 1

Intentional walks by inning:
First: 10
Second: 1
Third: 13
Fourth: 4
Fifth: 5
Sixth: 5
Seventh: 6
Eighth: 6
Ninth: 4
Extra innings: 1

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.