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Barry Bonds: Kinda, Sorta Amazing

Barry Bonds, SINot 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.




5 thoughts on “Barry Bonds: Kinda, Sorta Amazing

  1. FYI my 762nd article was about the 1914 World Series. As Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.” 🙂
    I was a bit surprised to see Reggie Jackson in the 200×3 club (I’d forgotten he could run when young). Didn’t you drop Hugh Duffy from consideration for you Hall? I note he still makes the 20% club.
    Interesting article.

    Posted by verdun2 | January 23, 2015, 9:07 am
    • Yeah, we said goodby to Duffy 15 or so elections back. His best season (1894) was outstanding but pretty fluky. His next two best years were in the American Association (1891) and the Players League (1890). We thought his record, while impressive, wasn’t quite as good in reality as it looks on the surface. Ultimately, we decided there were 20+ better CF and that Duffy was quite similar to Brett Butler and Kirby Puckett (not meaning to cause any controversy here, just saying). So Duffy got the axe.

      Posted by Miller | January 23, 2015, 10:55 am
  2. Hey, I’m an A’s fan and even I say Bonds should be in there. Definitely the best player of my generation.

    Posted by Gary Trujillo | January 23, 2015, 10:15 am

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