Whether you care about the asterisk next to his name or not, Barry Bonds has some of the craziest stats known to man.
Outside of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL points record (where he has almost 1000 more than the second-place Jaromir Jagr), Bonds posted some of the most mind-blowing stats you’ll ever encounter thanks to what he was able to achieve during his time in the MLB.
It may just be because I’m a baseball guy who adored (but definitely couldn’t hit) big-time bombs, but I couldn’t help but love the Steroid Era; I wanted to be the “Shaved Forearms, Put The Ball In The Seats” guy and admired the likes of The Bash Bros, Sammy Sosa, and Bonds.
In a time when viewership was declining, steroids arguably saved baseball in the early 2000s and it’s hard to argue otherwise (I believe this so strongly that I did a persuasive speech during my senior year of high school on why steroids should be legal in sports)—and Bonds is the face of the span that saved baseball.
The Steroid Era obviously had its fair share of problems, but it was also pretty awesome and saw players put up numbers we will most likely never see again—including Bonds, whose highlight videos could honestly replace my cup of coffee in the morning thanks to how amped they’re able to get me.
Bonds remains one of my favorite athletes of all time because of just how dominant he was. Yes, he has the 762 homers and the incredible amount of MVPs to back that statement up, but the stats that really go unnoticed—the small, weird, nerdy, Tim Kurkijian-type stuff—is what really does it for me.
The overlooked stats that summed up how good Barry Bonds was in his prime
Barry Bonds was intentionally walked with the bases empty 41 times.
In baseball, you want to keep the bases empty. A runner on means he’s that much closer to scoring.
Given that even Hall of Famers get out around 70% of the time, 99.999% of the time you’re going to take a chance and pitch to whoever is up. That 0.001% of the time? You’re facing Barry Bonds.
There were 41 different times where Barry stepped up to the plate with no one on and the opposing team chose to freely give him first base. No other player has seen this happen more than 10 times.
Oh, Bonds was also so threatening that in 1988 the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to intentionally walk him with the bases LOADED. That’s right: they willingly gave up a run, just to NOT face Bonds.
P.S.—Barry still has more intentional walks than every single member of the Tampa Bay Rays has racked up in the existence of the franchise.
P.S.S.—Barry has 688 IBBs the second? Albert Pujols with 292.
Barry Bonds is the only member of the 500/500 club
As a general rule in sports, you either have power or you have speed. To have both puts you in an unstoppable, elite athlete category.
You’re the Ricky Henderson type and you can steal at the drop of the hat, or your Big Papi and hit balls back to the Dominican Republic and take about a minute to run out a ground ball. Most players are somewhere in between.
Barry was elite in both categories.
He obviously could hit for power, but he also was as fast as the lightest guys on the team. Not only is he 1 of 4 players to ever reach the 40/40 club in a season, he is the only guy in the history of baseball to have 500 career home runs and 500 career stolen bases.
Given his on-base percentage, you can see why this was a problem for opposing teams. It also ramps up how crazy of an idea it was to walk him with the bases loaded knowing there’s a pretty good chance he can get to second easily.
To put this into even more perspective: No one else is even in the 400/400 club.
In 2004, Barry Bonds reached base 376 times. Official At Bats? 373
Some people might not even understand how that’s possible, and that’s how insane this is. No one else is even close to this level of mastery.
Barry’s stats continue to show that when he stepped to the plate, more often than not, he was going to hit a home run or walk. He would rarely swing at a ball outside of the zone, and if he put the ball in play, it was going to be hit hard and most likely into McCovey Cove.
If not, he could always steal and end up in scoring position anyway. It’s a marvel anyone stopped this guy.
Steroids or not, he knew what he was doing at the plate. He owned the batters box and his dominance frankly isn’t talked about enough. He has 7 MVPs, which is 4 more than the guys in second and we can never talk about it without backlash because of that dark cloud that continues to loom over him thanks to the purists like Peter Gammons.
I don’t care if you start a new “Section’ for him. Put him in Cooperstown and enjoy the greatness.