I’m not breaking any new ground when I say that Barry Bonds was a really good baseball player.
I understand why Barry Bonds is one of the most controversial players to ever step foot on a baseball field. We all do. And the writers who vote for the Hall of Fame understand it, too. Last year, Bonds only received 58% of the writers’ votes in his 5th year on the ballot. And while Bonds has gained support every year he’s been eligible for induction (he only received 36.2% in 2013), it’s still very unclear if he will ever be inducted.
People debate that because Bonds is so synonymous with the steroid era, and is perhaps the most infamous player of that time, that, if he were to be inducted, it would challenge the integrity of the Hall of Fame.
But what I’m here to say is that not only should Barry Bonds be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, but he should have his own wing in the place.
Again, I’m not saying anything new here, but go take a look at Barry Bonds’ Baseball Reference page. It’s laughable. Everyone likes to point to his 2001 season where he hit 73 home runs in one goddamn year, or his career total of 762 dingers, as feats that will never be achieved by a non-steroid using person. But what people forget is that the 2001 season was the only time Bonds hit over 50 home runs in a season. While guys like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa regularly topped the half century mark for a five-year stretch in order to climb up the all time homers list, Bonds simply did it through consistency. From 1990 until 2004, Bonds had 14 straight seasons of 25 or more home runs.
While home runs are great and all, I don’t factor them into my reason for wanting Barry Bonds in the HOF. For that, you need to look at his four-year stretch from 2000 to 2004.
These four years is perhaps the greatest four-year period, statistically, in baseball history.
OPS (On base %+ slugging%) is a stat that I like to use a lot. In addition to OPS+, which accounts for ballpark effects and other factors and normalizes them, they are two of the most accurate ways of measuring if a player is good or not. A 1.000 OPS might win you an MVP, a 1.200 OPS might mean you had one of the greatest seasons of all time. An OPS+ of 100 is league average, an OPS+ of 180 is an MVP-type season.
Over this four–year stretch, Bonds eclipsed a 1.200 OPS and a 200 OPS+ each season.
He was unstoppable.
He set the record for OPS in 2004 with an unheard of 1.422. But, if you remember, Bonds set the home run record in 2001. How could he have had a better statistical season in a year where he hit 28 fewer home runs?
Barry Bonds was fear incarnate. His 73–home run season, as well as his countless 40–homer campaigns, had made pitchers utterly terrified to pitch to him. Bonds was already a terrific hitter when it came to pitch selection, but when you add the rocket fuel of intentional walks, his numbers went through the stratosphere. In 2004, Bonds walked a record 232 times, with 120 of them being intentional.
Barry Bonds’ greatest tool wasn’t his bat, it was his reputation.
That’s why he should be in the Hall of f
Home runs certainly helped out his cause, but it was the aftermath of them that truly defined him as a player. Bonds led the league in walks 12 times over his career, averaging 139 walks per year. But, what’s more impressive than that is that he led the league in intentional walks 12 times as well, including his final two seasons where he was 41 and 42. No one ever wanted to pitch to him, ever.
When all was said and done, Bonds finished his career with 688 intentional passes, by far the most of all time. For an accurate representation of how many walks that is, let’s put it into context. Adrian Beltre, who just recently retired after 21 seasons, is already considered a sure fire, first ballot, Hall of famer. He walked 848 times over his entire career. Bonds nearly had as many Intentional walks over his career as Beltre had free passes total.
He was a different animal.
At the end of the day, the steroid era was a black eye on the game of baseball. But, if the Hall of Fame is about immortalizing baseball’s greatest to ever put on a hat, than Bonds is well deserving. Statistically speaking, he is more than qualified. But, when you consider how he was viewed around the league, you have to put him in there just based on how much pitchers tried to avoid pitching to him. It’s something that we will never see again. Like I said, he was fear in human form.
Put him in the hall of fame, give him his own room, and dub him “The scariest hitter that ever lived.”
He also did shit like this all the time and it was immmaculate.
We never really talk about the time that Barry Bonds lined a ball off the facing of the third deck at Citizens Bank Park. pic.twitter.com/LsysQpJckO
— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) December 16, 2018
It’s more than earned.
Photo: Getty Images