1992 National League MVP – Barry Bonds
How do you follow up being about 70% better than the league average batter? You do it by being 100% better than the league average batter. That’s what Bonds did two years after he won the NL MVP in 1990.
Just like the Pittsburgh Pirates ended their 20 year losing streak with an MVP season, they started it with an MVP season, this time with Bonds. Bonds somehow was an even better batter than he was in 1990. Through 612 plate appearances, Bonds hit .311/.456/.624. Not only did Bonds lower his 13.4% strikeout rate to just 11.3%, he walked a lot more, drawing a walk 20.8% of the time. Bonds hit 33 home runs and stole 39 bases, the start of a seven-year stretch where he hit 30+ home runs and stole 25+ bases.
Bonds wasn’t as great defensively as he was in 1990, but he was still really good with +6 total zone runs above average. Runners learned to stay put when the ball was hit Bonds’ way as he only had four outfield assists after having double digits four times in the previous five seasons.
Bonds had a 204 OPS+ and 198 wRC+, essentially making him about 100% better than the league average. It’s the highest wRC+ mark in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Needless to say, it also led baseball, and it wasn’t even close. The next closest was Gary Sheffield at 172. Bonds’ 9.6 fWAR also was far ahead of the next closest, Ryne Sanberg at 7.4. Not only is this the best season by an MVP winner in Pirates history, but possibly the best season ever by a Pirates’ batter.