Also considered: Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Derek Jeter
If you know anything about me, this isn’t a shocking turn of events. Junior was terrific. He had it all. He was The Kid. But Barry Bonds was from a different planet. Bonds seemingly had two separate careers that fell pretty conveniently at the decade’s end. Now unfortunately I won’t get to gush over his 01-04 seasons here because this is focused on the 90’s but I do hope to give you an appreciation of the player he was before the scandals arose.
The really enjoyable part about this is that Bonds is the first player on the list that I’ve had the privilege to actually watch in my lifetime. So I’m not fully relying on: stories, highlight videos, or stats. I can actually recall some of my own memories of the man that flipped the sport on it’s scandalously large head for 15 years.
We’ll hold off the moral debate for a second and look at the decade in which he has been pretty unanimously deemed “clean” for:
- Six seasons with an Average over .300
- Nine seasons with a .400+ OBP (.434 over the decade)
- Eight straight seasons over 1.000 OPS (1.036 over the decade)
- Nine straight seasons with 28+ Stolen Bases (343 over the decade)
- Eight 100+ RBI seasons
- Seven 100+ Run seasons
- Seven 100+ Walk seasons
- Nine 30+ HR seasons
- Eight Gold Gloves
- Seven Silver Sluggers
- Eight All Star Selections
- Three MVP’s
- 79.8 WAR
(.302/.434/.602, 1,478 H, 361 HR, 1,076 RBI, 1,091 R)
*These numbers only reflect the seasons between 1990-99*
The guy was a three time MVP before he turned 29. His worst non-injury (’99) or strike shortened (’94) season included: 25 HR, 116 RBI, 43 SB, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and an MVP runner-up to a 2 WAR worse Terry Pendleton. Had he rightfully won that MVP he would’ve had two separate 4-straight MVP stretches in his career. And if that were the case there really wouldn’t be any debate to be had here. Also, quick shout out to Cal Ripken’s ’91 MVP that season (Check it out).
‘My career is an open book, but my life is not.’ -Barry Bonds
Barry never cared much for the media, and thus he was spun as an evil villain to the public the first chance they got. The whole era was tarnished because of the lack of institutional control. But let’s not forget Barry’s greatness along the way. The games he played were real. The jaws he dropped were real. The smiles he provided were real. The fans he brought back to the game after the strike were real. He was everything you could ever want out of a baseball player. The 7-time MVP had the ability to strike fear in opposing pitchers in a way we have only seen once before. He was the modern day version of Babe Ruth. And for that, I thank you Barry.
The first player I ever stopped what I was doing to watch, Barry Bonds, comes in as the tenth selection to my Player of the Decade team. Continue to check back in as I will continue revealing my final choice for my Team of the Decades.