American former baseball left fielder Barry Lamar Bonds was born on July 24, 1964. He played in the Major Leagues for 22 seasons (MLB). Bonds’ professional baseball career spanned from 1986–1992 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and 1993–2007 with the San Francisco Giants. Among baseball’s all-time greats, he ranks well up there.
Bonds was a complete player who was honored with a record seven NL MVP trophies, 12 Silver Slugger medals, and 14 All-Star nods. In Major League Baseball, he holds a number of hit records, including the all-time mark for home runs (762), the record for most home runs in a single season (73, in 2001), and the record for most walks in a career.
In his 17 MLB seasons, Bonds finished in the top five in on-base percentage 12 times and led the league in on-base plus slugging six times. He was an outfielder with exceptional defensive prowess, having earned eight Gold Gloves. With his 514 stolen bases, he set a record and is the only MLB player in history to accomplish both the home run and stolen base milestones. Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.com both list Bonds second all-time among major league position players in Wins Above Replacement, with only Babe Ruth ahead of him.
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Baseball statistics for Barry Bonds before the steroid era
When Bonds signed a six-year, $43.75 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in December 1992, he became baseball’s highest-paid player. After the signing, then-Giants owner Peter Magowan said, “It’s a lot of money, but there’s only one Barry Bonds,” words that would ring true for years to come.
Barry Bonds seemed to be on another planet from 1993 to 1998, when he amassed another 49.6 WAR in just six years, bringing his career total to 99.7 WAR. Using this statistic, his 99.7 points would place him as the twenty-first best position player in history.
With 411 home runs by the end of the 1998 season, he had surpassed the total home run totals of Hall of Famers Al Kaline and Larry Walker for their entire careers. To reach 500 or 600 home runs and presumably remain a top 10 position player of all time, Bonds didn’t need to start taking steroids until after 1998.
Barry Bonds’ use of drugs to achieve his early 2000s superhuman prowess is not in dispute. Many, however, ignore his work prior to that, and as a result, his hall of fame nomination has mostly been an issue of the legitimacy of those early 2000s seasons.
Steroid use, however, does not negate Bonds’ or any other player’s natural accomplishments, despite popular belief to the contrary. Bonds, though, was already a baseball icon before any of that, and he should be honored as such despite his later actions.
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Barry Bonds’ Statistical Outburst During the Era
A baseball player’s career often winds down as he enters his mid-30s. For the following eight years, instead of thinking about retiring, Bonds engaged in a home run war with two other juicers. Barry Bonds’s statistics skyrocketed after that.
Bonds’ pals Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa competed to see who could hit more home runs in a season than anyone else, and Bonds ultimately came out on top. All three players in 2001 surpassed Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs, and Barry Bonds shattered it with 73 of his own. There were already strong indications that Barry Bonds could surpass Hank Aaron’s record for career home runs when he hit 73 of them while using performance-enhancing drugs in 2001.
Barry Bonds’ numbers were truly historic in 2007. Bonds slugged 136 home runs between 2002–2004. By the time his career ended in 2007 and his record for home runs was set, Barry Bonds had become the greatest home run hitter in baseball history.
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