clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should Barry Bonds be in the Hall of Fame?

The omission from the Hall of Fame of the greatest power hitter most of us have ever seen is borderline criminal.

Phil Carter-USA TODAY Sports

While Barry Bonds is one of the most polarizing Hall of Fame candidates, there is no denying his career statistics are Hall of Fame material, but it is the non-diamond activities that continue to bog him down.

The case for Bonds as a Hall of Famer

Awards and Accolades? Check √√√√√√√√

Seven time MVP, including 2001-2004 consecutively. And his second place finish in 1991 to an undeserving Terry Pendleton is the only reason he doesn't have another four-peat from 1990 to 1993. All in all he had twelve top ten finishes in MVP voting.

Eight Gold Gloves from 1990 to 1998, with 1995 his only miss in that timeline. Twelve Silver Slugger awards from 1990 to 2004. Fourteen All-Star games, including twelve starts (11 as LF and 1 as DH).

Career Batting Marks? Check √√√√√√√√

A 298/444/6o7 slash line covering 12606 plate appearances. The 444 OBP is sixth best all-time and the 607 slugging fifth best all-time. His career OPS of 1051 is fourth best all-time. And that 182 OPS+ career mark is good enough for third all-time.

His 601 doubles are fourteenth all-time. Oh, I didn't forget about those 762 home runs, the most all-time. He is third all-time in runs scored, 2227, and fourth all-time in RBI with 1996.

He was so feared that he was issued 2558 free passes, 368 more than Rickey Henderson. And that number includes 688 intentional walks, an incredible 395 more than Hank Aaron in second place. That including one of just six times in history with the bases loaded.

Season Batting Marks? Check √√√√√√√√

This list is too long to even attempt, go look it up on BRef. But I will share just one: He had six seasons of over a 200 OPS+, with his highest being 268 in 2002.

Baserunning/Speed √√√√√

Through his 1998 season averaged 34 steals per season, including three 30-30 seasons and one 40-40 year. He finished with 514 steals and a career 78% conversion rate.

Advanced Metrics? Check √√√√√√√√

He has the fourth most bWAR (162.4) ever, which is good enough for second best all-time for position players. He is also second to Babe Ruth in fWAR. He is fifth all-time in wRC+. He is first in Runs Created, 2892, and WPA at 127.6.

Defense? Check √√√√

While a few of his Gold Gloves were based on reputation, he accumulated 10.8 dWAR in his first six seasons in the league. He still finished his career with a positive dWAR (6.7) which is impressive considering he was basically a DH playing left field for his last decade in the league. He played the most games in left field, has the most career putouts, is sixth in assists and only tenth in errors.

Hall of Fame Grading? Check √√√√√√√√

Black Ink, Gray Ink, Hall of Fame Monitor and Hall of Fame Standards all have him comfortably over the average HOFer. JAWS has him first for left field with 117.5 score and the average HOFer at 53.3, His 7 yr-peak WAR was 72.7 as well.

Of his ten Similarity scores, six are HOFers, with his godfather Willie Mays his top comp. The other Hall of Fame comps are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, and Ted Williams. The four non-HOFers are Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez. Griffey is a lock and other three would be if not for similar PED issues.

The case against Bonds as a Hall of Famer

BALCO, PED, the cream and the clear. That is the one and only reason.

My two cents

I believe Bonds to be the second best player of all-time, only behind Babe Ruth. And the only reason I put Ruth above him is his early career as a stellar pitcher.

While Bonds is a known PED guy, and the BBWAA likely will never vote him in (as his ~35% vote his first two years on the ballot signifies), the way he dominated baseball, even on PEDs is staggering. He was the best player in baseball for almost two full decades. While the PEDs may have given him the advantage of staying on the field more often, you'll never be able to convince me that the PEDs helped him with his hand-eye coordination, which was the best I have ever seen.

Even if you pretend he walked away from the game ala Jim Brown prior to his accepted PED use, starting in 2000, his career stats to that point are Hall of Fame worthy. He would have been an eight time All-Star, a three time MVP, and eight Gold Gloves. He would have had eight years of an OPS+ of 170 or better, including two over 200. His career batting line would have been 288/409/559 and 445 home runs and 460 stolen bases.

I had the privilege of living in the Bay Area from 1997 to 2008 and watched his hitting prowess regularly. It was amazing to see Bonds turn on a fastball in the inner half of the plate and rip it into the San Francisco Bay. Whether or not Barry Lamar Bonds ever gets a fair shake from the voters, he IS a Hall of Famer to me.