Not so long ago fellow blogger and frequent reader Verdun2 wrote his 755th post, which he used to celebrate Hank Aaron’s home run total. While there’s every reason to celebrate Hammerin’ Hank and 755, being the trouble maker I am, I said I was looking forward to post #762, which is Barry Bonds’ home run total. Yes, I’m a steroid apologist. Barry Bonds would receive my Hall of Fame vote if I had one, and, spoiler alert, he’ll certainly get a vote in the 2013 Hall of Miller and Eric election.
Steroids, as you know, didn’t turn Manny Alexander into Barry Bonds. Nor did they turn Barry Bonds into Willie Mays. The guy had some outrageous talent – talent that sometimes seems to get taken for granted or dismissed, even among those for whom steroids aren’t a voting issue. People like me. And it’s a shame.
But this post isn’t about steroids. Really, it’s not. It’s about the numbers – the absolutely insane numbers Barry Bonds posted during his career. Bonds, because of his greatness, his long career, and his varied skill set is someone whose numbers are just so much fun to play around with. And that’s what I’m doing in this post. The research necessary for this type of work used to be incredibly time-consuming. No more though. With the help of the Play Index at Baseball Reference, almost all of the research below was incredibly easy. If you haven’t already, sign up for PI. It’ll pay for itself in fun the first day you purchase it.
Some of the numbers are really simple. Bonds is baseball’s all-time leader in homers, walks, intentional walks, MVP shares, runs created, power-speed #, base-out runs added (RE24), win probability added (WPA), situational wins added (WPA/LI), and base-out wins added (REW). Sure, one or two of those numbers may be a little unfamiliar to many readers (and some people writing this post). Even so, they’re all impressive. Also impressive is Bonds’ placing on other all-time lists. He’s in the top five ever in WAR, position player WAR, offensive WAR, slugging percentage, on base percentage, runs scored, total bases, runs batted in, adjusted OPS+, adjusted batting runs, adjusted batting wins, extra base hits, times on base, offensive winning percentage, and at-bats per home run.
The guy won seven MVP Awards. Seven! That’s as many as Ted Williams (2), Jackie Robinson (1), Hank Aaron (1), Roberto Clemente (1), George Brett (1), Reggie Jackson (1), and Derek Jeter (0) combined.
Sure, I know, I could have done all of that “research” without the Play Index. But it certainly would have been harder to find the members of the 500-500 Club. That’s an exclusive club I just made up to pay homage to Bonds. It’s all of the guys in the game’s history with both 500 doubles and 500 stolen bases.
Barry Bonds Rickey Henderson Paul Molitor Ty Cobb Honus Wagner
If we lower our standard to 400 and 400, we add only 20 other players.
Let’s alter it a little. Make it 300-300-300. That’s doubles, steals, and homers.
Barry Bonds Carlos Beltran Willie Mays Bobby Bonds Alex Rodriguez Reggie Sanders Andre Dawson Steve Finley
That’s it! And if we lower our standard to 200-200-200, it’s pretty shocking to note that there are only 45 guys ever. Barry Bonds alone is at 500-500-500, and just 44 others join him when we lower the standard by 60%. Just because it’s fun, below is that surprising elite group.
Barry Bonds Jose Canseco Bobby Bonds Eric Davis Ray Lankford Hank Aaron Jeff Bagwell Ron Gant Ryne Sandberg Johnny Damon Willie Mays Andre Dawson George Brett Mike Cameron Paul Molitor Alex Rodriguez Alfonso Soriano Reggie Sanders Raul Mondesi Howard Johnson Sammy Sosa Joe Carter Steve Finley Joe Morgan Marquis Grissom Frank Robinson Larry Walker Rickey Henderson Derek Jeter Jimmy Rollins Reggie Jackson Carlos Beltran Craig Biggio Vada Pinson Roberto Alomar Gary Sheffield Don Baylor Jim Wynn Kirk Gibson Brady Anderson Dave Winfield Darryl Strawberry Bobby Abreu Robin Yount Devon White
If you were wondering, as was I, we reach only 237 names when we drop it to 100-100-100. And no, I’m not going to list them.
The real fun, I think, can be when we compare Bonds to only Hall of Famers.
There are 49 guys in the Hall with fewer walks than Barry Bonds (688) had intentional walks. Once again, about a third of the hitters in the Hall of Fame walked fewer times in their careers than Bonds was walked intentionally during his. Granted, players didn’t always walk at the same rate as they did during Bonds’ time. But 34 of those players played their entire careers after the start of the American League. There were 26 who played their entire careers after the end of the first World War. And there were seven Hall of Famers with fewer walks than Bonds had intentional walks whose entire careers took place after WWII.
Roy Campanella (533) Jim Rice (670) Roberto Clememte (621) Andre Dawson (589) Bill Mazeroski (447) Kirby Puckett (450) Orlando Cepeda (588)
Bonds also avoided strikeouts quite well. And he did so in an era where strikeouts were more prevalent than at any other time in the game’s history. The only time Bonds ever whiffed in triple digits (102) was when he was skinny Pirate rookie in 1986. Hall of Famers have combined for 124 seasons with at least as many strikeouts as Bonds had in ’86. Here’s a list of all Hall of Famers who matched Bonds’ career high at least five times.
Reggie Jackson (18) Mickey Mantle (8) Mike Schmidt (12) Harmon Killebrew (7) Willie Stargell (12) Craig Biggio (6) Tony Perez (9) Jim Rice (6) Lou Brock (9)
Some people have decided that Barry Bonds used steroids and is therefore tainted. Okay, if you like to think that, there’s no problem. But nobody believes Barry Bonds used steroids while in Pittsburgh, right? Here’s a list of every Hall of Famer who can match Bonds in both HR and SB – in only the seasons Bonds played in Pittsburgh.
Willie Mays Joe Morgan Andre Dawson Robin Yount Rickey Henderson Roberto Alomar Craig Biggio Paul Molitor Ryne Sandberg Barry Larkin
If we look at Bonds’ WAR just with the bat, then slice it in half, the list of players in the game’s history who even make that list is shockingly small.
Babe Ruth Hank Aaron Mel Ott Albert Pujols Jeff Bagwell Ted Williams Rogers Hornsby Jimmie Foxx Manny Ramirez Jim Thome Ty Cobb Tris Speaker Frank Robinson Honus Wagner Roger Connor Lou Gehrig Willie Mays Frank Thomas Alex Rodriguez Nap Lajoie Stan Musial Mickey Mantle Dan Brouthers Eddie Collins Ed Delahanty
There are just 25 players ever with half of Bonds’ bat. And as you probably know, Bonds was also an incredible defender. Its his defense in many ways that helps him stand out. Almost nobody ever had such a high-level varied skill set.
Now let’s add Bonds’ WAR from fielding, slice it in half, and add that figure to our batting figure.
Hank Aaron Tris Speaker Willie Mays Albert Pujols
That’s right. There are just four players ever who can match even half of Barry Bonds value with the bat and with the glove. If we throw in the legs and put in half of Bonds’ baserunning WAR, Aaron, Speaker, and Mays are still there. Okay, so that’s not very exciting. Let’s end with a list of all players in the game’s history who can match ever 20% of Bonds with the bat, with the glove, and with the legs. Just 20%. I can’t stress how incredible it is that so few players ever can match even 20% of Bonds with the bat, glove, and legs.
Hank Aaron Joe DiMaggio George Davis Willie Mays Al Kaline Bobby Bonds Albert Pujols George Brett Jackie Robinson Honus Wagner Larry Walker Carlos Beltran Eddie Collins Roberto Clemente Hugh Duffy Jeff Bagwell Goose Goslin Scott Rolen Rickey Henderson Reggie Smith Andre Dawson
That’s it. Thanks for reading.