Thoughts on Balls
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In a recent TD about Barry Bonds, Peach suggests that Barry would have been the greatest player of all time if it weren't for the controversy surrounding him in life.

 http://tiny.cc/hswak

Let me first say that I used to be Bonds' number one fan.  I cherished the Rookie Card I had of him.  I had a limited edition HR record card.  I was a huge proponent of the stance that Bonds would go down as one of the best to ever play the game.  During his time in San Fran, I started to become a little annoyed with his behavior.  Some of my other favorte athletes include Jerry Rice, Ozzie Smith, Steve Yzerman, Steve Nash and Mario Lemieux.   All of them are stand up guys with nothing to tarnish their name or legacy (that I know of).  I was a little disappointed with Barry... but when I found out he was a cheater, I was crushed.  I no longer mention him as a favorite.

 As for his baseball achievements, I think he honestly COULD have been in the conversation of Greatest to ever play... provided he didn't cheat.  He never would have gotten the honor (because of his attitude) but I think he deserved to be in the discussion.

 In 1998, Barry was about to achieve something monumental.  He was going to have 400 and HR and 400 Steals (not to mention totals of 1200 RBI, 1300 Runs, 1300 Walks).  In his 12 year career thus far, he had been a statistical anomaly.  He WAS the perfect 5 tool player.  After reaching the milestone (as well as batting over .300, 122 RBI and other amaznig stats) and barely garnering any media attention, he decided to join Sosa, Big Mac, etc... and juice up.

 Prior to steroids, Bonds had amassed this sort of stat line per year (not 162 games):

105 Runs, 31 doubles, 32 HR, 94 RBI, 34 SB and more Walks than K's.

His career OBP up until then was .411 and his OPS+ was 164.  The man was unreal.

He played 9 more seasons of drug induced ball, then was unable to find work because of legal trouble and poor attitude/chemistry issues. 

His 162 game averages for 1999- 2007 (steroid and injury filled years) were:

129 Runs, 30 Doubles, 53 HR, 117 RBI and 11 SB.  I went with 162 game averages because his last 3 years were a hot mess in terms of games played.

Let's pretend that he never took steroids and he played 8 more years at his career averages (unlikely perhaps, but he also would have played more than the 9 he actually did, adding to his totals at whatever level/rate he was at).

His new career totals would near:

2200 Runs, 3000 Hits, 650 Doubles, 600 HR, 2000 RBI, 700 SB, 2100 BB

* The only total I drastically reduced was the HR, because he might have had similar totals for every stat except the HR, since power drops off with age more than any other* 

Now sure you can look at those numbers and say "His production wouldn't have stayed at the high level for 8 full years."  You are probably right.  However, look at this way:

- No Roids means fewer HR, but it also means fewer intentional walks and better pitches.  Since everyone was afraid to pitch to him, his hit totals, doubles, RBI, etc... were all actually lower than they would have been if he was just a "normal" hitter.

- He would have been faster (not as bulky) which would equate to more steals, more doubles, and played in more games  because he wouldn't have been a liability in the field like he was.

- A team would have signed him as a DH hitter later in life.  He couldn't get on with an AL team as a DH as it was, because of his problems.  Without them, someone would have taken him on and he could have played more seasons than he actually did.

So looking into all the factors and "making up" some numbers that are quite realistic, here is where he stands all time:

Runs: Around 3rd

Hits: Around 25th

Doubles: Around 7th

HR: Around 8th

RBI: Around 3rd

SB: Around 10th

Walks: Top 5

 As we see, the guy would be top 10 in 6 of the 7 offensive stats listed.  He was a 3 time MVP before the drugs, 7 time Silver Slugger before the drugs and 8 time Gold Glove winner.

 He STILL would have been the only player to ever hit 500 HR and steal 500 bases.  A very good chance to make that the 600/600 club if he hadn't lost so much speed with the bulk.  He made the 40/40 club in 1996, before the drugs (1 of only 4 members... 2 of the others being on steroids).  Quite literally, he is 1 of only 2 players do it legitimately.

 I say all of these things considered, he definitely could have been in the running for greatest of all time... providing he stayed off the steroids and had any semblance of a personality. 

 

July 30, 2010  10:35 PM ET

Good read. I agree with you that he could have been one of, if not the greatest, player of all-time.

July 31, 2010  01:08 AM ET

not the greatest, but in the top 5

July 31, 2010  01:37 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

not the greatest, but in the top 5

Who would you rate top 5 and in what order?

July 31, 2010  01:48 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Who would you rate top 5 and in what order?

Oooh, he's calling you out G4P.

July 31, 2010  11:04 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Who would you rate top 5 and in what order?

1. Ruth
2. Williams
3. Mays
4. Aaron
5. Musial

July 31, 2010  11:56 AM ET

Nice blog bud. I hope to read more of your stuff in the future.

July 31, 2010  12:04 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

1. Ruth2. Williams3. Mays4. Aaron5. Musial

Musial? Interesting choice.

July 31, 2010  07:39 PM ET

Nice Blog man.

August 1, 2010  10:29 AM ET

too many ifs and what ifs, but good blog

August 1, 2010  04:25 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

1. Ruth2. Williams3. Mays4. Aaron5. Musial

1. Ruth
2. Mays
3. Cobb
4. Williams
5. DiMaggio

I assume we weren't using pitchers.

1. Walter Johnson
2. Greg Maddux
3. Christy Mathewson
4. Cy Young
5. Bob Gibson

August 1, 2010  05:39 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

1. Ruth2. Mays3. Cobb4. Williams5. DiMaggioI assume we weren't using pitchers.1. Walter Johnson2. Greg Maddux3. Christy Mathewson4. Cy Young5. Bob Gibson

No Chipper? Interesting.

August 2, 2010  02:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

too many ifs and what ifs, but good blog

Hard to avoid when we are talking about what his career would have looked like if he wasn't so stupid and arrogant.

Comment #14 has been removed
August 24, 2010  05:36 PM ET

I agree on the main point but disagree that he's being victimized.

When he was done he had made more money playing the game than anyone in history.
He also gained the two most prestigious records in baseball, the single season and all time home run records.

While it can be argued that he gets more guff than anyone else for steroids, it can also be argued that no one else gained as much from steroids. Ergo the guff=the benefit.

Here is a list from 1998 where Barry is #34. It makes an interesting snapshot because it shows where he was considered immediately before the steroids. I'm not sure he would have climbed too much higher, butt he probably would have some. The list includes pitchers too, 11 of which were ahead of him. That would have made him the considered (by the Sporting News) as 23rd greatest hitter of all time in 1998. Top 20, sure, top 10, maybe, top 5 doubtful.

August 24, 2010  05:36 PM ET

Sorry, forgot this.

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/legendary/lisn100.shtml

 
September 7, 2010  10:07 AM ET

I've said this multiple times. But nobody seems to listen. Regardless of the Roids, Bonds was, and would've been the greatest player of all time.

Great blog!

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