Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Three Players on the Hall of Fame Ballot

CHICAGO - 1990: Barry Bonds of the San Pittsburgh Pirates bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1990 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - 1990: Barry Bonds of the San Pittsburgh Pirates bats during an MLB game versus the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois during the 1990 season. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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JUN 1991: BARRY BONDS, OUTFIELDER FOR THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES, GOES BACK TO THE FENCE TO MAKE A CATCH DURING THEIR GAME AGAINST THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT DODGER STADIUM IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. MANDATORY CREDIT: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT
JUN 1991: BARRY BONDS, OUTFIELDER FOR THE PITTSBURGH PIRATES, GOES BACK TO THE FENCE TO MAKE A CATCH DURING THEIR GAME AGAINST THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT DODGER STADIUM IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. MANDATORY CREDIT: STEPHEN DUNN/ALLSPORT /

Barry Bonds

This will be the penultimate chance for Barry Bonds to make the Hall of Fame through the ballot. If Bonds was not such a controversal figure, both on and off the field, he’d probably be in the Hall of Fame by now.

Bonds is obviously most known on the field for his home run records. With 762 home runs he has the most by any hitter in MLB history. He also has the single season home run record when he hit 73 homers in 2001. That’s far from the only record he holds though. Bonds has 7 MVP awards, the most by any player ever, including a pair with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the most intentional walks and the highest bWAR ever at 162.8.

During his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bonds hit .275/.380/.503 with a 136 wRC+ and 38.6 fWAR. While he did not necesarrily look like a player that would set the home run record during his time with the Bucs, fans in Pittsburgh got a glimpse of what he could do at the plate in his final three years. From 1990 to 1992, Bonds hit .301/.424/.556 with 92 home runs and a very impressive 172 wRC+. Bonds was a near five tool player as he also stole 134 bases and had +52 total zone runs saved in the outfield.

You can’t talk about Bonds’ performances without talking about his insane run from 2001 to 2004 with the San Francisco Giants. This is the most dominant run of any player across any four years in baseball history. He hit .349/.559/.809 with a 256 OPS+, 232 wRC+ and .515 wOBA. His slugging percentage alone was higher than 62 batters OPS in 2019 with at least 500 plate appearances. In 2004, he reached base 60.9% of the time, due to 120 intentional walks. Bonds is top 10 all time in on base percentage (6) and is 5th all time in slugging. In terms of wRC+, he’s fifth. He’s als0 fourth all-time in OPS.

Bonds has been kept out of the Hall of Fame because of his use of steroids. This has also kept other steroid users like Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez from reaching Cooperstown. However, his attitude with the media and some unsavory off field actions also plague him and could be another reason older voters aren’t too keen on letting him in, mainly because they were the ones Bonds was rude to.

Should his connection to steroids be used against him as much as it has? Almost every single player in baseball was using some form of performance enhancing drugs during the steroid era as players went untested. How much should Bonds be held accountable for that? Bonds wouldn’t be the first player to be elected into the Hall Of Fame to have used steroids or cheated in some fashion. This could be the deciding factor as to whether or not Bonds makes it in the Hall. However if he does make it, he’ll likely wear a San Francisco Giants cap on his plaque.

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