Left Field – Barry Bonds
Everyone knows who Barry Bonds is. He’s the most polarizing player in MLB history but whether you love him or hate him, there’s one thing everyone can agree on. He was damn good at the sport of baseball. He showed this early in his career with the Pirates too. In his final 3 seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate, Bonds won 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, and 2 MVPs, giving him 8 awards before he turned 30.
Those final 3 seasons were just a hint of things to come in Bonds’s career. From 1990 to 1992, Bonds batted .301/.424/.566 with a .424 wOBA, and 172 wRC+. He blasted 92 home runs and 134 stolen bases. He was the definition of power/speed combo. He was the only player with 90+ home runs and 100+ stolen bases. Bonds was so far ahead of most of the players in the league, it wasn’t even funny. His 27.2 fWAR dwarfed Cal Ripken Jr’s. 20.4 mark. The only player that could rival Bonds’ hitting ability was Frank Thomas, who just barely edged out Bonds in wRC+ and wOBA, but Bonds had the upper hand in OPS and home runs.
The amount of value Bonds brought as a defender can’t be understated. He earned those 3 Gold Gloves. Bonds had +52 total zone runs in these 3 phenomenal seasons. The only two players to have more were Cal Ripken Jr. (57) and Tony Gwynn (54). Bonds had a +4.1 dWAR, which for a left fielder, is very impressive since it’s weighted so it’s harder to put up a good dWAR at a less defensive premium position, like left field.
Bonds would blow all of these numbers out of the water, and then some, during the early-2000’s. But it’s impressive nonetheless that he was able to get so many awards in such little time. The only one he missed out on was the 1991 MVP. But he finished 2nd in voting and was arguably the true winner of it.