There have been some amazing players to play baseball and so many of them could be considered the greatest, but its time to give Barry Bonds the respect he deserves.
Yes, you are reading that title correctly. I said that Barry Bonds is the greatest player to ever play baseball. Everyone is so stuck on the fact that he did roids, although he was never caught, and seem to forget just how talented and special he was. The roids do not help you hit a baseball, the roids do not give you faster hand speed. Its time we appreciate Barry for the player he was and to do that we must take a deeper look into his legendary career.
Barry Bonds was first drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 1982 MLB draft, but he did not sign. He went back to school and in 1985 he was drafted in the first round by the Pirates. It took Bonds only one year until he was an everyday player in the majors. Bonds was a five-tool player and he had a good rookie year in 1986 in which he slashed .223/.330/.416 with 92 hits, 26 doubles, three triples, 16 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 36 stolen bases. Bonds would finish in 6th place in the rookie of the year voting. It would take Bonds roughly three years to really get comfortable in the Majors and in 1990, Bonds would show baseball that he was ready.
Bonds had used the later years of the ’80s to get a feel of the majors, as each year he was getting better. The five-tool star was ready to breakout, and he did just that in 1990. 1990 was the breakout year for Barry Bonds, as he would go on to win his first of seven MVP awards. In that year Bonds slashed .301/.406/.514 with 156 hits, 32 doubles, three triples, 33 home runs, 114 RBIs, and 52 stolen bases. Not only had Bonds found his power stroke, but he was still stealing a lot of bases. A 30-30 season is not a very easy feat to achieve as power hitters usually aren’t a threat on the base paths. It became clear that Bonds was a special talent as this was just the beginning, he was only going to get better. Bonds would follow up 1990 with a very similar season but would finish in second place for the MVP award.
In March of 1992, the Pirates would actually agree on a trade with the Braves to send Bonds over to them, but it would be rescinded as Jim Leyland was strongly against it. That would only motivate Bonds as he would go on to post, at the time, the best season of his career. In that 1992 season Bonds slashed .311/.456/.624 with 147 hits, 36 doubles, five triples, 34 home runs, 103 RBIs, 39 stolen bases, and a league-leading 127 walks. The league was starting to fear Bonds as he was starting to strike out less and walk more. This would greatly benefit the Pirates as they would ride Bonds to their third straight division title.
The Pirates would find themselves in Game Seven of the NLCS against the Braves, and of course the final play would have Bonds in it. With runners on second and third and two out in the 9th inning, Francisco Cabrera would line a single to Bonds in left. The runner on third easily scored, but the runner on second was Sid Bream who was one of the slowest players in baseball. Bonds fired the ball home but it was not in time as the Pirates would again be denied a World Series berth. The play would have been made if Bonds had listened to the centerfielder when he told him to move it. That would be the last game Bonds would play as a member of the Pirates.
Bonds would become a free agent in 1993 and everyone wanted him. He was the best player in baseball at the time, a rare five-tool talent that had legendary power, speed, plate vison, and hand speed. Everything you wanted in a player, Bonds had and he was rewarded with a record-breaking six-year 43.75 million dollar deal with the Giants. Bonds would pick up right where he left off as he would go on to win the MVP award for the second straight year. In that year he slashed .336/.458/.677 with 181 hits, 38 doubles, four triples, 46 home runs, 123 RBIs, 29 stolen bases, and 126 walks. What is crazy about this year is that even though Bond’s power numbers are going up, he is still a threat on the base paths. Even in the strike-shortened season of ’94, Bonds still had a great year and would continue to be one of the game’s best players throughout the ’90s.
Once the century changed, Bonds would kick it into another gear and start the greatest five-year run, of any position player, MLB history. It all started in 2000, where Bonds again would have a career year in which he slashed .306/.440/.688 with 147 hits, 28 doubles, four triples, 49 home runs, 106 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, and an NL leading 117 walks. Bonds was starting to lose the speed part of his game, but it went unnoticed as his power production continued to rise. He would actually finish in second in MVP voting to teammate Jeff Kent, but Bonds wouldn’t be denied again. In 2001, Bonds would have one of the best seasons of all time. He slashed .328/.515/.863 with 156 hits, 32 doubles, two triples, a record-breaking 73 home runs, 137 RBI’S, and a league-leading 177 walks. The greatest individual power season from a hitter ever and, of course, he was awarded his second straight MVP award.
In 2002 Bonds would have another MVP in which he slashed .370/.582/.799 with 149 hits, 31 doubles, two triples, 46 home runs, 110 RBI’S, and a league-leading 198 walks. Another great season for Bonds, but this time it would mean something as the Giants would find themselves in the World Series. On the biggest stage in baseball, Bonds wouldn’t disappoint as he would go on to have an insane World Series where he slashed .471/.700/1.294 with eight hits, two doubles, four home runs, six RBIs, and 13 walks. Every single one of Bonds’s home runs were bombs, and it got to the point where an Angels player said, ” after Bonds destroyed one. Sadly, Bonds couldn’t do it all himself and the Giants would lose the series in seven games. In 2003 he would go on to win his third straight MVP. In that season he slashed .341/.529/.749 with 133 hits, 22 doubles, 45 home runs, 90 RBI’S, and a league-leading 148 walks. Even in a season in which he missed 30+ games, Bonds was still the game’s best player and no one could get him out. Everyone thought there was no way Bonds could get better, but in 2004 he did.
In 2004, Barry Bonds had the greatest hitting season of all time. In that year he would slash, a video game-like, .362/.609/.812 with 135 hits, 27 doubles, three triples, 45 home runs, 101 RBIs, and a league-leading 232 walks (120IBB). Barry Bonds was on base 61% of the time. Let that sink it. He was walked 232 times and 120 of them were intentional which is still an MLB record. His OPS was also record-breaking as he recorded a 1.422 OPS. That is hands down the most dominant hitting season of all time. Bonds would win his fourth straight MVP and it would be his last.
Bonds would finally start to slow down but would put up quality years. In 2007, Bonds would break Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record of 755. Steroids or not, Bonds was the best player to ever play baseball. As I stated before, Steriods don’t help you hit a baseball all it really does is make you stronger and help you play longer. Bonds actually had a 6th tool. Fear. No one was more feared than Barry Bonds. He scared every single pitcher that faced him. It got to the point that in 1998 he was actually walked with the bases loaded in a two-run game. Name another player that was that dominant during his time. On top of everything, Bonds faced some of the best pitchers of all time. Greg Maddux always said that Bonds was the easiest hitter to face because you can just walk him. It is time we give Bonds the respect he truly deserves, as the greatest baseball player of all time.