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  1. I check Bonds’ numbers at least once a month and get more amazed every time I see them. I keep wondering what Bonds could do right now in 2013.

    Comment by Tim — January 9, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

  2. Assist!

    Comment by brett — January 9, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

  3. It’s not hard to have a high OBP when pitchers won’t throw you anything within a foot of the plate.

    Comment by Jim — January 9, 2013 @ 7:34 pm

  4. Hoffman was lucky.

    Comment by Nick — January 9, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

  5. I remember watching a good amount of Bonds that season and he did tend to receive many more “assists” from umpires than the average player, sending his already incredible walk rate to even more incredible heights.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — January 9, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  6. It’s pretty damn hard to have pitchers not throw you anything within a foot of the plate, however.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — January 9, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

  7. I suspect confirmation bias in that recollection.

    And I have the same recollection.

    Comment by olethros — January 9, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  8. I used to have Padres season tickets, and Brian Giles would get a lot of those borderline calls, too. I think when you’ve established a good eye as a batter, umpires tend to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    Comment by TheHoustonian — January 9, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  9. The guys caused plenty of Heart-attacks rooting for the Angels in 2002. His OPS during the WS was almost 2. I just remember him either drawing a walk or demolishing Troy Percival’s fastball in game 2.

    Comment by Nash — January 9, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

  10. I had Bonds on my fantasy baseball team that year. Luckiest 1st overall draft slot ever!

    Comment by Brandon S — January 9, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

  11. You forget his homer in game 6 in the bottom of the ninth, even though the halos won that game. I also happened to be in Anaheim that night, and watched the at bat on a portable tv of a guy standing in line at the Knott’s Scary (Berry) Farm. Awesome, awesome moment. Then after the halos won, all these guys dressed as zombies and ghouls were just running around howling in delight, with angels hats/jerseys on.

    Comment by Brandon S — January 9, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

  12. Tom Glavine made a career out of establishing *his* strike zone.

    Comment by jaywrong — January 9, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

  13. Just further proof that the bat always got heavy for Bonds when the games got more important. He never won it all.

    Comment by Greg — January 9, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  14. This one story should be enough to get Trevor Hoffman into the Hall of Fame.

    Well, maybe not entirely. But I do find it funny that this huge strikeout came against a legitimately excellent pitcher.

    Comment by Ian R. — January 9, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  15. Mmm. Because Barry Bonds struck out, once, in a high-leverage situation, against one of the greatest late-inning relievers of all time, he’s clearly a choking choker who chokes.

    Comment by Ian R. — January 9, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

  16. .609 OBP in 2004. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

    Comment by rustydude — January 9, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

  17. I guess you missed the 2002 playoffs.

    Comment by Brian Recca — January 9, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  18. 232 walks and he still hit 45 HR’s.

    Comment by Brian — January 9, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

  19. Go ahead and look at the world series that year, Greg. Please.

    Comment by Stringer Bell — January 9, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

  20. It’s really too bad he has such a cloud over his head. I’d bet he used. Had he not…..He might very well still have been the very best hitter of all time. And we might very well have had one enductee today. By the way, he was a jerk too. All too bad for us….and maybe him too.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — January 9, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

  21. He hit 8 HR in the 2002 playoffs (in 45 ab) and walked 27 times.

    Comment by Mark — January 9, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

  22. Bonds did get a very small strike zone called against him, but it was largely similar to a number of very elite, veteran hitters in the league at the time. Chipper Jones also benefited from much the same calls, as he got older.

    It’s strange, because some of the veteran superstars don’t really get that many calls. Frank Thomas’s zone actually expanded as he got older, which drove him crazy and led to a lot of grumbling from him as he walked back to the dugout.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — January 9, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  23. I was a dead fish in my post-season career until I….

    Well, let’s just say that without chemicals, life itself would be impossible. (Ask your parents.)

    Thanks for all your support!

    Comment by Barry B. — January 9, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  24. I think the kid whom he paid for an entire college fund for would disagree about the jerk part. And he was an asshole to media, whoop.

    Comment by Stringer Bell — January 9, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

  25. He(Bonds) would often get one ONE pitch in the strike zone per game! And he would smash it. His at bat vs. Gagne is AWESOME 101 mph fastball deposited far into the centerfield bleachers.

    sips Racer 5

    Comment by psychump — January 9, 2013 @ 10:15 pm

  26. You’re implying Bonds didn’t have arguably the greatest eye at the plate ever.

    The ball could be a centimeter off the plate and Bonds isn’t gonna swing.

    Comment by l1ay — January 9, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

  27. gagne vs bonds.

    Comment by d240z71 — January 9, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  28. 45 HR against just 41 SO in 617 PA’s.

    Comment by ptabubo — January 9, 2013 @ 11:02 pm

  29. I remember from that season being very happy when Zito buckled Barry’s knees with his 12-6.

    Comment by Tim A — January 9, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  30. Thanks for the link! And reminding me how stupid the MLB policy is for video clips. It takes some Japanese site for me to see awesome.

    Comment by ilzilla — January 9, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  31. Awesome writing!!

    Comment by Table — January 9, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

  32. No doubt Bonds is an amazing player whose likes won’t be seen again for quite some time. However, I always think about how he crowded the plate so much to take advantage of his power. He had a behemoth of an elbow guard that so many prior sluggers didn’t have. Guys like Willie McCovey got knocked down and sometimes beaned continually from crowding the plate. If Bonds played years ago he wouldn’t be able to crowd the plate like he loved to do and it may cut down on his plate coverage and discipline.

    Comment by Downer Debby — January 10, 2013 @ 12:53 am

  33. “This may not be an exact quote.”
    – Josef Stalin

    Comment by James — January 10, 2013 @ 12:54 am

  34. 2004 was better than 2002, aside from BABIP.

    2004 bonds had higher ISO, SLG, OBP, walked more and struck out less.
    Slightly lower batting average, though.

    Comment by bSpittle — January 10, 2013 @ 12:54 am

  35. He was an asshole to more than just the media. Sure, maybe he paid for one kid’s college tuition but the stories of his assholishness (is that a word?) extending to clubhouse attendants, bat boys, and interns know no bounds. Have a look at the article written by Kevin Guilfoile on Clemente’s 3,000th hit for one good example. An asshole is an asshole no matter the occasional good deed. That said, no other assholes could hit like Bonds.

    Comment by Brad — January 10, 2013 @ 1:14 am

  36. Would be more bizarre if it was against some chump like Ugueth Urbina.

    Comment by J — January 10, 2013 @ 1:16 am

  37. I can’t get a .582 OBP in MLB the Show on easy mode. This guy did it in real life.

    Comment by The Party Bird — January 10, 2013 @ 1:23 am

  38. I agree with the elbow guard thing. Those things should have been banned. It completely eliminated the up and in fastball with any player who crowds the plate. It’s easy to turn away from a pitch to look like you are getting out of the way of it while actually extending your front elbow further over the plate more into the path of the ball. With Bonds’ talent of turning on fastballs mid-to-low and inside while keeping his hands back enough to keep them fair, it was just was brutal.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — January 10, 2013 @ 1:55 am

  39. Small strike zone, smaller parks, maple bats, more time in the gym lifting for his contract year in 2001, and a juiced ball in the steroid era all contributed to Bonds great stats. Steroids helped too, how much is hard to say.

    From age 36-42 Bonds had 268 HR. Aaron is a lower offensive environment and bigger strike zone had 201 HR in 600 more AB.

    Comment by pft — January 10, 2013 @ 2:22 am

  40. .609 OBP in 2004… That is silly, would have led the majors in slugging last year. His slugging btw: .812, I’m awe just reading it, his slugging alone would have almost put him in the top 50 for OPS this year. Wow.

    Comment by Craig — January 10, 2013 @ 2:31 am

  41. I actually frequent Bond’s player page too. Is this a thing for many fangraphs readers?

    Comment by snoop LION — January 10, 2013 @ 2:36 am

  42. Just to clarify: It’s a Taiwanese site.

    Comment by Bellwood #1 — January 10, 2013 @ 2:41 am

  43. Game six was in Anaheim. Bond’s AB was in the top of the 6th off Krod and it was beautiful.

    Comment by WillieMaysField — January 10, 2013 @ 2:52 am

  44. It’s definitely a thing for me. As a Bay Area kid, I grew up watching Bonds every night, but I think I appreciate what I saw even more when I look back at his stats. Maybe I’m numb to steroid use because I’ve never seen the MLB without it, and maybe I should be mad at Bonds and the rest of them for “disrespecting the game”. But damn it, I’m still in awe.

    Comment by Tom — January 10, 2013 @ 3:43 am

  45. As long as we’re drooling at his numbers – where would his ISO of .450 have stood this year for straight SLG?

    Just ridiculous.

    Comment by That Guy — January 10, 2013 @ 4:06 am

  46. Steroids: They are amazing.

    Comment by Daniel — January 10, 2013 @ 8:02 am

  47. Same here. As a Red Sox fan I also hit up Pedro’s numbers frequently. The steroid era has some taint to it, no doubt…but the intersection of expansion teams, smaller ballparks, juiced balls, and a greater emphasis on weight training and conditioning led to some of the most absurd, almost unimaginable seasons in the history of baseball. Maybe steroids played a hand in it, certainly the sportswriters believe it did. But you can’t argue that we didn’t see some of the most amazing players and accomplishments in the history of the sport in the late-90’s/early-2000’s.

    Comment by Ray — January 10, 2013 @ 8:40 am

  48. Which is why everyone that took steroids put up similar numbers.

    Comment by Justin — January 10, 2013 @ 9:34 am

  49. He hit a foul into the water in the same at bat!!

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — January 10, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  50. I never saw a hitter as relaxed as Bonds at the plate, plus choking up on the bat to boot. I’m a life long Giants fan, but I would still put Bonds as the third best hitter of all time after Ruth and Williams. It’s a shame that Barry is the face of PED use when it’s likely most of the league used too.
    He should have been in the HOF with 95% of the vote.

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — January 10, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  51. Great article. The funny thing about Trey Lunsford is that this is the only out he made all season (out of 3 at bats, but still!).

    Comment by dl80 — January 10, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  52. The ugly personality as well as the impossible numbers both came, at least in part, because of the steroids. My favorite line about him was by Andy van Slyke when, after he retired, he was in the Giants locker room where Barry Bonds was coming out of the shower and he was shocked to see how large one of Barry’s heads had grown since their days in Pittsburgh, while the other head had shrunk.

    Comment by spoonful — January 10, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  53. And the ball he turned on and pulled foul into the bay was on a 101 MPH fastball. Jesus.

    Comment by Fletch — January 10, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  54. He FAILED to hit a homerun in 37 of his at bats. Clearly he was a choker.

    Comment by Bill — January 10, 2013 @ 11:41 am

  55. Don’t bust on Urbina. You’ll regret it.

    Comment by Venezuelan Peasant — January 10, 2013 @ 11:44 am

  56. As mentioned above, I’m actually more impressed (and that’s saying something) by the foul ball on the pitch before. He pulled a 100-mph fastball foul. Insane.

    Comment by Zach — January 10, 2013 @ 11:49 am

  57. Steroids make for super, long-bomb type walks. I’ve never seen such explosive walks since the Steroid era.

    Comment by Steve — January 10, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

  58. Thank you for also (perhaps inadvertently) reminding everyone how stupid it is to keep Bonds out over PEDs. Gagne is another confirmed HGH user and Bonds just abused him in that video. It’s impossible to say what percentage of MLBers were getting some sort of help out of a bottle, but I don’t think anyone doubts that it was high enough that Bonds was still head and shoulders a more dominant player than even his chemically enhanced peers.

    Comment by Dillon — January 10, 2013 @ 12:21 pm

  59. I actually remember that game pretty vividly, though I didn’t watch it. I was listening to it on the radio though.

    Comment by jp_on_rye — January 10, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  60. I am not disputing the man’s ability. Clearly he was better than pretty much everyone else. But I do not understand why the mere fact that he was immensely gifted and, I have no doubt, hard working, is a reason to either ignore the fact that he took steroids or else entirely absolve him of any responsibility for doing so.

    Comment by Daniel — January 10, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

  61. Greg, you are an embarrassment to us other gregs who post on Fangraphs.

    Comment by Greg — January 10, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  62. Said Umpire Bill Klem “Son, when you pitch a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know it.”

    TBH, I’m not convinced that Bonds didn’t have a better idea of whether a pitch was a ball or a strike than the umpire a lot of the time anyway.

    Comment by quincy0191 — January 10, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  63. You also have to remember that Bonds was allowed to wear body armor due to an “elbow injury”. I remember that stuff he wore. He looked like a football player in the batters box. Because of the armor he had on, he was over top the plate. And in this era, if you threw high and down the middle, you were basically aiming at his head which would get you ejected. I always argued that they let Bonds wear this gear when other players were not allowed, because seeing Bonds hit home runs sold tickets. He still did steroids. And he still belongs in the Hall of Fame. But I’ll never put him on the level of Ruth and Williams because of the fact he was doing steroids, wore protective gear, and could not be brushed back. He basically got to take batting practice during the game.

    Comment by Jeff Self — January 10, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  64. The electricity that Bonds created every time he came to the plate in the early-to-mid aughts was incredible. I’ve never seen anything else that remotely approached it in my life as a baseball fan (1957-?) and I’m sure I never will.
    He would be my first choice of all players of all-time to place in the Hall of Fame.

    Comment by Baltar — January 10, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  65. The “assists” may have been unintentional. The umpires undoubtedly recognized that Bond’s eyes were better than their own. Ted Williams was similarly recognized.

    Comment by Baltar — January 10, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

  66. Smartest.

    Comment by Baltar — January 10, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

  67. If your comparing players across era’s you have to take everything into context. The talent pool that Ruth & Williams competed against was much smaller. Bond’s wouldnt have been allowed to compete against Ruth. Thats much more worthy of an asterick in my opinion.

    Comment by Jason — January 10, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

  68. Imagine having a leadoff hitter who gets on base more than 60% of the time. I actually replayed the games on paper with Bonds batting 1st, the next best hitter batting 2nd, the next best hitter 3rd, etc. that year. I don’t remember the average number of runs scored, but it was way more than the actual lineup scored.

    Comment by Baltar — January 10, 2013 @ 5:39 pm

  69. This may or may not have been touched on in other Fangraphs articles, but I read at one time about an analysis of Bonds’ hinged elbow armor.

    There were more than two or three points to the analysis, but, IIRC, the punch line of the article suggested that the fact that the brace was hinged was a big deal.

    I’m not trying to suggest that I understood all of the details, but the people doing the research proposed that the hinge allowed Bonds to be a lot more precise with his swing. Similar to the way offensive linemen often have hinged knee braces that don’t allow their knee joint to easily move in compromising ways, Bonds’ elbow brace ensured that his lead arm would always move on the same plane.

    And it make some sense. The process of the baseball swing is an orchestrated chaos. There are about a bazillion things going on. Rotating hips/thighs, pitch recognition, etc. And what these researchers were saying is that Bonds was able to dramatically dampen a very meaningful variable in that equation. That it was hinged and spring loaded, I believe, also added a measure of “pop”.

    I don’t remember if this is the exact article I read or not. But I’ve always found the mechanics behind Bonds’ elbow brace to be very interesting.

    Comment by rogue_actuary — January 10, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

  70. Especially when you’re talking pre- and post-slider baseball. I forget which player it was but he said he would have made it another three years if that pitch hadn’t become popular

    Comment by James — January 10, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  71. I’ll take Musial over Bonds anyday. May Bonds rot in baseball hell.

    Comment by Tanned Tom — February 3, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  72. hmmm… -28 vs. +57 votes. That the biggest WPA swing I’ve ever noticed in comments before.

    Comment by carpengui — March 20, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

  73. What, do we need to put an asterisk next to every Bond post? Should the original post read .609 OBP* in 2004? Not ignoring his steroid use doesn’t mean it has to be brought up after every single comment about his career. No one up to this point to this point “absolved” him of his steroid use, they just chose not to talk about it because it is boring and useless.

    Comment by Poopski — March 28, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

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