On August 4th, Barry Bonds hit his 755th career home run, tying Hank Aaron's all-time record. He will soon pass "Hammerin' Hank" and claim the top spot for Major League Baseball's most coveted record, and arguably the most popular record in all of US professional sports.
But does he deserve recognition?
Anyone who has heard of Barry Bonds knows that the big deal involves steroids. "He doesn't deserve it!" "We should put an asterisk next to his name in the record books!" "He's a cheater!" Although these statements might be arguably appropriate, I want to show you a few things that many people overlook about Bonds.
- 755 home runs (only 4 players all-time with more than 600)
- 12.9 at bats per home run (3rd all-time)
- 2,539 walks (all-time leader)
- 1,426 extra base hits (2nd all-time)
- .444 on base percentage (6th all-time)
- 514 stolen bases (only player with both 400 HR and 400 SB)
- .298 batting average (and a .272 average this year!)
- 7 MVP awards (MLB record; the next highest is 3)
- 13 consecutive seasons hitting 30 or more home runs (MLB record)
- 8 consecutive seasons with .600 slugging percentage or higher (MLB record)
- 8 Gold Glove awards for NL Outfielder
- 12 Silver Slugger awards for NL Outfielder
- 14 All-Star appearances
Sure, he may be an arrogant jerk who likely took some steroids a few years ago. But being one of the best baseball players in history, I'm not surprised at how he reacts to the mass criticism from fans and media. Oh, and guess what else? He has never failed a drug test.
Do I think that Barry Bonds deserves this recognition and fame for his achievement, even though it's likely that he took steroids? Yes. Definitely. Based on the statistics that I see above, I believe that he is one of the game's best. By far.
He is one of the most intelligent hitters in the history of the game. His swing is beautiful. When most players gain the experience needed to be more skillful in the game, their bodies start wearing down. But not Bonds'. After 22 seasons at 43 years old, his experience and his health have given him the respect that he deserves. Along with a no-doubt stroll into the Hall of Fame.
For more on Bonds versus Aaron in the eyes of their peers, check out this article.
"Barry, even before all the questions came up about him, he was a guy you'd walk intentionally." --Joe Torre
Photos from msnbc.com and mlb.com
Stats from wikipedia and mlb.com