Barry Bonds
(J.R. Gamble/The Shadow League)

Don’t Let Anyone Tell you Differently: Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer

The 1990s were an odd time for America’s national pastime. The player’s strike in 1994 seemed to cripple attendance and appreciation for the game. Football seemed to push ahead as the more popular sport during this time. However, when baseball returned, the ball became a pinball. Every player seemed to hit 30 home runs in a season capped off by the race for Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 by McGwire and Sosa in 1998. The record was broken by both with the former finishing with a staggering record-setting 70 dingers. Yet, these players weren’t even the best players of the decade. These guys hit home runs, but there was a player that stood alone playing for that foggy city by the bay.

Barry Bonds is the textbook definition of a five-tool player. It was evident before he came up with the Pirates, and further exemplified by his statistics in the decade. By the time he was traded to San Francisco, he was the most feared hitter in all of baseball. A great example of this was on May 28, 1998, when Arizona Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter had the nerve to walk Bonds with the BASES LOADED. This has only happened a few times in history. This is real fear, even during a time when the baseball became a pinball. Yet, somehow, Bonds hadn’t even reached his full potential.

McGwire’s record of 70 long balls didn’t even last three years. Between 2001-2004 Barry Bonds became a literal robot. It was as if someone was playing the baseball video game, MLB the show, and put the difficulty on beginner. In 2001, the record for home runs flipped once again with Bonds hit 73. Absolute insanity. During the four year stretch from 01-04, Bonds hit 209 home runs, had an on-base plus slugging of 1.368 composed of a .559 on base percentage. The average on-base percentage for a major leaguer is .336. Bonds was in a league of his own.

Barry Bonds took steroids. This is clear. Take a look at his body from the time of the early 1990s in Pittsburgh to the early 2000s in San Francisco. He blew up like a balloon. Even though the evidence is overwhelming that he did take the drug, he was tested positive for it. Want to know why? Because despite steroids being illegalized by Major League Baseball in 1991, they didn’t start widespread testing players for it until 2003. Bonds wasn’t alleged until 2007 in the same scandal that Roger Clemens dealt with. So many players were juiced in the 1990s and the early 2000s that rampant drug user Jose Canseco had the audacity to call out several in his book, Juiced.

Now, it is 2021, and no players are reaching the Hall of Fame. Bonds got the second most votes yet is still scrutinized by the baseball writers who vote. I assume that if Bonds never broke the single-season or the all-time home run record yet put up numbers as he did, he’d be a surefire Hall of Famer. People put too much emphasis on those four video game years, yet Bonds were the silent killer of the nineties. The absolute best player of the decade. Even though he took steroids, he was able to control the playing field like none other. The knowledge that Bonds had in the early 2000s of the art of hitting is something that very few players have been able to match. Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and so should Pete Rose.