I know this might seem like a hot take to a lot of people, but Barry Bonds deserves to be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Why, may you ask? Well, because Barry Lamar Bonds is arguably the best hitter in the history of baseball.
I know, I know. What about BALCO and the PED cloud that will forever shroud his legacy? I understand all of that. I’m not saying what was done during baseball’s Steroid Era was right, but it happened. And Bonds wasn’t the only one accused of being a user of performance enhancing drugs.
Let’s just take a look at his numbers.
Over his 22-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants, Bonds was as gifted as an athlete as anyone in the game and posted numbers that the game had not, and most likely will not, see ever again.
We all know he is the home run king with 762 career homers. He also has the single season record of 73 set in 2001. Bonds also led the league in home runs in 1993, his first with San Francisco, with 46. During his 22 big league seasons, he hit over 40 home runs eight times and over 30 home runs 14 times.
On top of being the king of the long ball, he also has the most walks and intentional walks in MLB history. His career totals of 2,558 and 688 will most likely never be broken. He is ahead of second place by over 300 in each category. He led the league in walks and intentional walks a whopping twelve times each and is 2004 season will never be matched. That year, Bonds was walked 232 times, which is an MLB record, with 120 of them being intentional, another record.
His other stats are just as astonishing. He was a career .298 hitter with 2,935 hits. He had 601 doubles, which ranks 17th all-time and his 1,996 RBIs puts him 6th. This all comes from a guy who also stole 514 bases in his career too, which puts him 34th on that list.
He also ranks 7th in on-base percentage (.444), 8th in slugging percentage (.607) and 5th in OPS (1.051). He also led the league in on-base percentage ten times, slugging seven times and OPS nine times.
Next, let’s look at his accolades.
Bonds was a 14-time All-Star with an appearance in his last season at age 42. He was a seven-time MVP, with the next closest players winning three. He won three out of four between 1990 and 1993, winning back-to-back in 1992 and 1993 while also winning the award four straight times from 2001-2004. He has 12 Silver Sluggers to his credit. Oh, and he was no slouch in the field either, as he won eight Gold Gloves as well, winning five straight from 1990-1994 and three straight from 1996-1998. Or eight of them in nine years, however you want to look at it.
On top of all of this, he has a 162.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which ranks fourth, behind only Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Cy Young.
Sure, he was the face of the Steroid Era. But that doesn’t take away his place in the history of the sport. He was the most feared hitter in the game for the majority of his career. He compiled numbers that may never be touched.
On a sign at the entrance of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s plaque gallery, there is a sentence which reads “The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to Preserve History, which is what we seek to do throughout the Museum.”
Leaving Bonds out would not only be a mistake, but a slight to an entire era of baseball history. What is the history of the MLB without Barry Bonds?