Barry Bonds is on the Hall of Fame ballot once again. One of the greatest hitters, Bonds did not achieve his success without scrutiny. Does he belong in Cooperstown?
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When we are asked who the most talented players to ever play Major League Baseball are, most people say names like Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, and maybe even Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Trout. But Bonds could be in the mix, as it was evident how special he was when he arrived in the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bonds was drafted by Pittsburgh in the first round (sixth overall pick) of the 1985 Amateur Draft out of Arizona State University. The very next year, he arrived in the big leagues and immediately made an impact. He made his first All-Star appearance in 1990 and would go on to appear in 13 more.
After winning two MVP awards, Bonds signed with the San Francisco Giants in a move that the Giants would describe as one of their best acquisitions ever. Bonds went on to win five MVP awards and nine Silver Slugger awards. In 2002, he made his first and only World Series appearance when the Giants fell to the Anaheim Angels. While at first glance his career makes him a no-brainer for a Hall of Fame selection, Bonds’s career has been discredited numerous times due to his PED controversy.
This will be Bonds’s eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot. He was on 60.7 percent of ballots last year, which was the highest percentage of votes he has received so far. His candidacy expires in 2022, so he will need to change some voters’ minds if he wants to be in Cooperstown.
Where do you want to start? Bonds had double-digit All-Star-Game appearances, seven MVPs, eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, and two batting titles. Bonds holds the record for the most career home runs ever with 762 of them. He also has the most homers in a single season (73 in 2001).
Bonds has won the most MVP awards in the history of baseball. A distant tie for second is Hall of Famer Stan Musial and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. Willie Mays, a top-three player in MLB history, won five fewer MVPs than Bonds did. Anyone who won that many MVPs is usually a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Of course, this is a unique situation.
The cons far outweigh the pros in the eyes of the Hall of Fame voters, and the reason why is because they involve the one cardinal sin in baseball: cheating. Bonds infamously tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in 2000, just months before he broke Mark McGwire‘s single-season home run record.
He placed second for the MVP award in 2001 and first in 2002, so those awards have asterisks beside them among many people in baseball, especially considering that Pujols had an amazing season in 2002 (.314 batting average with 36 more hits than Bonds) without using steroids.
There is no doubt that Bonds doesn’t deserve to have an induction speech alongside baseball legends. He knew what he was doing when he decided to cheat and therefore not play on a level playing field with everyone else. There are other players such as McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens (who are all on the ballot this year) that have used PEDs and also haven’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Bonds shouldn’t get a pass either.
People bring up the argument that Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he cheated so he should get in. So then why cheat in the first place? If he was so talented, he had no reason to allow those substances to enter his body.
Bonds likely has two trophy rooms to fit all of the awards that he won during his storied career with Pittsburgh and San Francisco, but the one honor that he will likely never have is seeing a plaque with his face on it in Cooperstown, N.Y., aside legends like Tony Gwynn, who achieved their success while playing the game clean.
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