One of the hottest topics in baseball since last year’s offseason has been the Hall of Fame ballot. The reason this class is different than all the others is because one of the best baseball players to ever live appeared on the ballot and he received a sorrowful 36.2% of the 75% needed to be inducted. That man’s name is Barry Bonds. Bonds played seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and fifteen seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He is one of the most polarizing and controversial players in the history of the game. By just looking at his statistics, Bonds is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the top five players to ever put on a uniform. As we all know, there is one roadblock keeping Bonds from Cooperstown immortality and that’s the issue of performance enhancing drugs. Bonds played in an era where steroids were all-too-common and he has been made the poster boy for one of the darkest periods in the history of the game. In my opinion, Bonds should still be inducted into the Hall of Fame and here are five reasons why:
1. Bonds’ numbers were like no other. He had a career on-base percentage of .444 and a career slugging of .607. Both of those would be MVP numbers for any single season, and he averaged it throughout his career. In 2001 he peaked with a .536 ISO and broke the single season homerun record with 73. He also compiled a 164.1 fWAR and had a 173 wRC+ throughout his career. All of those astonishing feats and it doesn’t stop there. He is the only player in the 500 stolen base/500 homerun club and from 2001-2004 Bonds didn’t have a batting average under .325, an OBP under .515, or a SLG under .745.
2. Nobody knows who did or didn’t take steroids during that period. Sure, the evidence against Bonds is compelling and truth be told he probably took them knowingly, but I’m not ready to exclude someone from the Hall of Fame because of a probably. Also, what about the pitchers throwing to him that could have been using steroids? What about the fielders who were faster and stronger to catch fly balls and make the otherwise impossible plays? It is absurd to penalize one player because he happened to be better than everyone else.
3. Why decide to let him keep his awards and keep his name in the record books, but not put him in the Hall of Fame? In my opinion, it is hypocritical to say he is still a seven-time NL MVP, the homerun king, and the all-time walks leader, but say he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame because of steroids. If you’re going to penalize him for one thing, why not penalize him by taking all of his awards away?
4. What is the criteria for being a Hall of Famer? Is it Bonds’ treatment of the media, which we all know to be pretty harsh at times, or was it how he performed between the lines? Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is not earned by being nice or being everyone’s favorite player, it is awarded by being one of the best players on the field. If people want to exclude Bonds because he cheated and is a bad guy, then why not exclude Ty Cobb, who confessed in his autobiography that he may have killed a man during his playing career? Excluding Bonds because of his character, or lack thereof, is too much of a gray area to make a legitimate decision.
5. In my opinion this point is often over-looked and that is that Bonds already had Hall of Fame numbers before he allegedly started taking steroids. It is said that Bonds began taking steroids in 1998 after he switched trainers. Before then he already had 411 homeruns, a .408 OBP, and a 99.2 fWAR.
Love him or hate him, in my opinion to exclude a rare talent like Bonds from baseball’s highest honor would simply be a travesty. I believe, for the Hall of Fame to remain credible, there must be a plaque bearing the likeness of Bonds.
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