According to BBHofTracker.com, Barry Bonds received the fourth most Hall of fame votes in 2020, falling 32 votes behind Curt Schilling, who finished 3rd. As Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the most decorated and morally reprehensible players of the modern era, head into their final year on the ballot, many voters seem content on letting them twist in the wind for a while longer.
Because what do you do with the most accomplished and controversial hitter of all-time?
While Clemens has more Cy Young awards than any other pitcher to take the mound, Bonds is one of the most accomplished hitters of all time. So let’s begin there, and take a look at twelve numbers that define Bonds’ career and his case for the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds hit his 500th home run on April 17, 2001, making him the seventeenth slugger to join the 500 Club. Since Bonds joined their ranks, only ten other players have mashed 500 round-trips, with David Ortiz becoming the most recent club member in 2015.
In his final 3 seasons, Bonds was still one of the most feared hitters in the league. He led the NL in walks his final two years and led all of MLB in his final season. There’s a reason for that. Bonds hit 79 home runs after his 40th birthday, breaking Carlton Fisk‘s record of 72 HRs by players over forty.
Hitting 30 home runs in today’s game might not seem like the achievement it was prior to 1990. In the last five years, a total of 183 players have sent 30+ balls over the fence, averaging out to 36 players a year. Even more difficult in today’s game, is stealing bases. In the same span, only 46 players have stolen 30+ bases, which means 9 players a year are swiping bags at that clip. To complicate things even further, only 4 players have accomplished both feats in the last five years. Big-time names like Mike Trout, Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts, and Ronald Acuña, Jr., have only completed a 30-30 season once. Barry Bonds did it 5 times. Barry Bonds is one of only two players in Major League history with five 30/30 Club (30+ home runs & 30+ stolen bases in the same season) entries. The other player with five? Barry’s father, Bobby Bonds.
Barry Bonds started 2,715 games in the Left Field, the most by any player in the live-ball era. The other Hall of Famers in the “Iron Horse” outfield with Bonds are his Godfather Willie Mays with 2,829 games in Center and Roberto Clemente with 2,305 games in Right. Now, that’s an outfield.
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1985 June Draft, Bonds would go on to become the first Pittsburgh Pirates player to join the 30/30 club, by stealing 30 bases and hit 30 home runs. Barry Bonds was the first National League player in history to record a 40 home run and 40 steals in a season. To this day there are only four members of the 40/40 Club, with Bonds joining Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano.
The Silver Slugger Award is handed out each year to the best offensive players in both leagues. Barry Bonds owns twelve Silver Slugger Awards during his career, the most by any player ever. The closest player to Bonds’ 12 wins is Mike Piazza, widely regarded as the greatest power-hitting catcher of the live-ball era, who has 10 Silver Bats to his name.
Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001, a single-season record. Since 2001, no player has managed to hit over 59, when Giancarlo Stanton won the 2017 NL MVP.
Bonds went off in the early 2000s, earning the National League batting title in 2002 and 2004. By winning the award twice, Bonds became the only Giants player with two such honors in franchise history, including their time in New York.
Staying on the topic of walks, Barry Bonds was intentionally walked 688 times during his career – placing him firmly at the top of the all-time career intentional walks list. The closest player to Bonds’ 688 is Albert Pujols, who has 311 career intentional free passes, less than half of Bonds’ total.
Barry Bonds hit 762 career home runs, one of only three players in Major League history with 700+ career home runs. Not to cherry-pick stats here, but Bonds is also the only player to have hit more than 760 home runs.
Legends like Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Mike Schmidt, have reached the MVP mountaintop multiples times in their careers. In fact, all of those players have win three MVPs in the time on the diamond. Barry Bonds has won the award SEVEN TIMES. Even more insane, he won four of them in consecutive years from ages 36 to 39. Bonds’ 7 titles are also more than 17 teams have ever won in their history.
There’s a lot to say about Barry Bonds and his candidacy for a plaque in Cooperstown, but there are some things you can’t refute. The simple fact is this: Barry Bonds put up some staggering numbers in his career, and even if you half his career totals, I still think they make a solid case for his enshrinement in Cooperstown.
But then again, getting into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is much more than a numbers game.
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