Barry Bonds and Splits

Anytime a new offensive statistic or function is added to the site, I tend to gravitate to Barry Bonds’ page to see what the outer bounds look like. The splits function is no different.

For instance, did you know that in his 268 high leverage plate appearances Bonds was walked intentionally 58 times. All told, Bonds walked in 42.2% of his total plate appearances. When he did hit, his ISO was a ridiculous .360. That’s good for a 1.354 OPS and a .524 wOBA. I don’t know if people will reference these numbers in 200 years after reading up on baseball history (folklore by then) and how Buck Showalter walked him with the bases loaded, but if they do, such a factoid should help to create understanding, if not acceptance.

Even the immortal saw the typical platoon advantage, which is to say that the left-handed Bonds was superior against righties. A .492 wOBA against them versus only a .480 wOBA against lefties suggests the Giants wasted a golden opportunity for a platoon. Bonds was more discriminatinh when it came to hitting the ball hard in certain directions. He hit the ball well to right (.524), center (.513), but not nearly as well to left (.394). Of course, a .394 wOBA is nearly .020 points higher than Evan Longoria’s career wOBA, but this is Bonds we’re talking about. Unacceptable, Barry.

Somehow he hit more home runs at home (one more, to be exact) than he did on the road. This came in light of nearly 40 fewer plate appearances at home, too, and while playing in one of the more homer-constricting parks in the National League. Oh, and this, well, this I just have to replicate in full These are Bonds’ 2002 month-by-month wOBA figures:

April: .563
May: .509
June: .536
July: .514
August: .607
September/October: .530

A .509 wOBA was a down month for him. Goodness gracious … goodness gracious.

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69 Responses to “Barry Bonds and Splits”

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  1. MattC says:

    The guy was a straight up monster at the plate. I still can’t get over his 04 season where he had 373 official ABs and he reached base in 367 of them. That is simply mindboggling.

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    • The Hit Dog says:

      haha um this is a little misleading. you can either say, “he had 373 ABs and recorded a hit in 135 of them,” or “he had 617 PAs and reached base in 367 of them.” both are incredible and the latter is ridiculously silly, but… you can’t really say it the way you said it.

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      • atlbravesfan44 says:

        Good call Hit Dog. Not sure why pot circle is getting all worked up. I was quite confused by the way that was said as well.

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      • Basil Ganglia says:

        Right, Hit Dog. MattC can legitimately assert, “… he had 373 official ABs and he reached base 367 times.” But when he says “he reached base in 367 of them” he is incorrect. The clear antecedent for “them” is the 373 official ABs.

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      • MattC says:

        Yeah reading it again I did word it wrongly. I should’ve said “He had 373 official ABs and he reached base 367 times.” Didn’t mean to confuse anybody but I figure it would go without saying that I wasn’t talking about Plate Appearances because it’s obvious that he didn’t only get out 6 times all season.

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      • MattB says:

        MattC missed his 9 HBP that year – it is pretty amazing that Bonds reached base 376 times despite only recording 373 AB. His .609 OBP in 617 PA is definitely mind-boggling.

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  2. Bill says:

    I feel robbed knowing this guy cheated. Yeah, he probably wouldn’t have hit for the power he did without cheating, but he was still an extremely special player and would have still done some amazing things. I wish my memory wasn’t tainted.

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    • B says:

      At what point are we going to get over branding players as “cheaters”? Please, if you’re going to break it down into such a black/white issue of “cheating”, then call everyone who’s ever “cheated” a cheater, which would include greenie users like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron (claimed he only did it once, but that still makes him a cheater, no?)…..

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      • AInquisition says:

        I’ll get over it when Frank Thomas gets his 2000 AL MVP.

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      • B says:

        Really? Go cry me a river over it. Of all the examples you could use, you’re going to use a DH’s 9th best offensive season of his career (by wRC+) to be upset he didn’t win an MVP over it? Please.

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      • Sam says:

        How about those who knew the umpire blew a call on the second base because they made a phantom tag, but did nothing to correct the call and reaped the benefits?

        They are also cheaters, no?

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      • AInquisition says:

        The olny AL players with higher wOBA were Ramirez, Giambi, and Delgado. If you want to give it to Delgado, that’s fine, but just because it wasn’t Thomas’s best season doesn’t mean that he wasn’t great that year, it means he was just that great of a player.

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  3. odbsol says:

    He cheated. Get over it. And not everyone cheated during that era, e.g. Greg Maddux.

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    • B says:

      Again, we can’t have a constructive conversation about the era until people like you get over yourself. Trying to turn it into a black and white issue by calling people cheaters completely defeats all manner of critical thinking we can put towards this issue. “Cheating” has been in baseball for as long as baseball has existed, in various forms. There’s nothing unique about one generation of players you’re trying to villify – if you want to call them cheaters, then recognize that every generation had its share of cheaters. And once you start going back through history and labeling many of the greats “cheaters”, the word kind of loses meaning, doesn’t it? So again…that just takes us back to where we were in the beginning – having not given the issue actual thought and had productive conversations about it.

      So the point is, let’s drop the cheater label. It’s BS, it’s meant to vilify one generation of players while ignoring what all other generations have done, it’s trying to single guys out for something that’s not unique to them, and it’s trying to stifle constructive conversation and critical thought on the issue.

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      • B says:

        Meant as a response to odbsol, not sure what happened…

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      • odbsol says:

        Sure. Let’s just sweep it under the rug like Selig and MLBPA did.

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      • Fresh Hops says:

        You’re not really making sense B. Your propose that “cheater” is a black and white label and applies to every degree of severity of cheating. Therefore, you conclude, we should simply not wonder or question whether the behavior of players is in any way cheating or not.

        But isn’t the solution to the problem to investigate the severity of the offense, not to simply dismiss the offenses entirely? When we dismiss these offense, are we not telling the next generation of baseball players “Go ahead and cheat, we don’t care about cheating”?

        Honestly, I’m really annoyed when people compare the use of amphetamines in the 50s and 60s to steroids in the late 90s/00s and then totally neglect to make the comparison: do they have similar performance enhancing effects? were they similarly against the rules? were players aware of the rules and prohibitions that they were alleged to violate?

        People want to sweep this under the rug because they want baseball to have integrity. But to have integrity is not merely to act conscientiously; it’s also to confront your trespasses openly and honestly. When we treat Bonds achievements like everyone else’s, we’re not acknowledging the failures of baseball and Bonds to live up to it’s mistakes and his. It matters to the integrity of the sport that we treat people who cheated differently, and that we do so in proportion to their offenses.

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      • B says:

        How does my advocating constructive conversation on the issue and critical thinking into it suggest we should just sweep it under the rug? I’m just calling out your BS, that is, your lack of thought into the issue and simplification of the issue into cheaters and non-cheaters. In no way does that say we should ignore the issue.

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      • B says:

        @Fresh Hops – I think I’m making perfect sense. That’s more along the lines of the discussion that needs to happen, rather than simply calling a handful of players we want to vilify cheaters, which is ridiculous.

        “Honestly, I’m really annoyed when people compare the use of amphetamines in the 50s and 60s to steroids in the late 90s/00s and then totally neglect to make the comparison: do they have similar performance enhancing effects? were they similarly against the rules? were players aware of the rules and prohibitions that they were alleged to violate?”

        And that’s fine to a point, but the comparison is there because from the “cheating” basis, the foundation against them is similar, they’re illegal. That’s why the comparison exists. And if you want to get deeper into the issue, it’s not about “amphetamines in the 50s and 60s”, it’s about illegal PED’s that have been in the game for what, 6 decades now? It’s about steroids, which have been in the game for at least 4 decades now. These conversations are productive and useful – but acting like one generation of players are the only ones that ever did anything that may or may not be objectionable, which is essentially what branding a select few players as cheaters does, and that’s what I take offense to. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s also acknowledge we don’t know a whole lot about what performance enhancing effects certain things do or don’t have. The science there is fuzzy at best.

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      • Fresh Hops says:

        Okay, B, I think I misunderstood you. I thought when you said we need to get rid of the cheating label, you meant that cheating is somehow irrelevant to our assessment of PED use, and that our evaluations of PED use should ignore whether its cheating or not. But that’s not your point: your point is that *cheating* isn’t special to PED users in the recent era. I’m cool with that.

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      • The Nicker says:

        It seems to me that B is making the black/white distinction here by labeling athletes of all areas as cheaters of one sort or another, and thereby making the Steroid Era as equally above reproach as all other eras of baseball.

        This is analogous to me arguing that the public should not turn their nose down at murderers and rapists because almost everyone has committed a petty theft or minor assault in their lives.

        There are those who believe the players in the Anabolic Steroid Era committed a far greater assault against the integrity of the game than players of any era before them. They may be incorrect, but they’re entitled to their opinion, and they’re certainly entitled to call them “cheaters” without referencing Vaseline-coated hat-brims and greenie-addicts of years past.

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    • Brandon T says:

      Maddux did too cheat! He used telekinesis to force batters to hit balls into fielders’ gloves!

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  4. B says:

    Great article, it’s amazing to go back and look at some of the things Bonds did. That he hit so many HR’s in AT&T still to this day is amazing, think what he would have done in a place like Denver or Arlington or Philly. Man, the guy was straight up amazing.

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  5. odbsol says:

    I’ll grant you that Bonds has been singled out but it’s not exactly unfair. A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire – they’ve all at least stepped up and confessed to using while Bonds holds out. That’s what sucks – we can’t appreciate the greatness of his career without looking at him through the prism of PED use.

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    • B says:

      Eh, Barry Bonds:

      1992 – .311/.456/.624 for a .469 wOBA and 205 wRC+
      1993 – .336/.458/.677 for a .469 wOBA and 197 wRC+

      Pujols, for instance, has never broken 190 wRC+ in his career. I think it’s safe to say we can just appreciate Bonds for the amazing player he was. Don’t let the ridiculousness of the public’s reaction to the steroids issue clowd your judgment – if you want to look at Bonds through the context of what he may or may not have been doing and what many of his peers definitely were, fine – he STILL stood out that much from his peers, and he always did. You’re just cheating yourself by not recognizing how amazing what he accomplished was. It’s very worthy of appreciation, and once you give in to that, the baseball fan in you will come back out and enjoy the accomplishments for what they were. Amazing.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        What was it Bill James said? You can cut Bonds’ career in thirds and you’d have three Hall of Famers. *Unadjusted stat alert* Bonds had eight straight seasons of a 1.000+ OPS. The only two players to have that many 1.000+ OPS seasons in their careers were a couple guys named Ruth and Williams.

        Bonds had that run in the 90s.

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      • FireOmar says:

        What was it Bill James said? You can cut Bonds’ career in thirds and you’d have three Hall of Famers.

        no, you’re thinking of Ricky Henderson and halves. don’t get it twisted.

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      • The Nicker says:

        I think any student of the game would find a steep cliff in front of any attempt to exclude Bonds from a Greatest of All Time short-list, much less the HoF.

        Still, you cannot dismiss his reputation by pointing out how good he was before his alleged use, and in the prime age of his life to produce top-flight numbers.

        This article references, in part, Bonds’ otherworldly years in his late 30’s, so it’s not particularly surprising that PED usage would come up.

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    • Yeti Monster says:

      Barry did admit to using PEDs. When he testified before the grand jury, he said he used the cream and clear; albeit unknowingly.

      Rip the man for lying about his knowing use of the drugs if you will, but at least realize he admitted to using.

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    • Rich says:

      “A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire – they’ve all at least stepped up and confessed to using while Bonds holds out.”

      Lol, what? A-Rod got caught and then admitted to what was already known. McGwire stepped up like 10 years after the fact. Giambi confessed to “something” but couldn’t say “what that something is”
      Hardly a confession.

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  6. Pat says:

    I always appreciated getting the opportunity to watch a player as skilled as Bonds and felt saddened that the media was telling everyone that they should almost feel guilty for watching him. I would tell my friends who always ripped on Bonds for his PED use that one day their sons were going to see his numbers and ask ‘Dad, what was it like to see Barry Bonds play in person?’ What are they going to respond, ‘Well, we just complained about his suspected drug use and asshole attitude’. Lame. Those numbers are incredible and I feel honored to have witnessed some of his exploits on the baseball field.

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    • Breadbaker says:

      I was lucky enough to see a Giants game at AT&T Park his last season. The answer to the question your sons (my grandsons) might ask is that everything in the ballpark experience was wrapped around Bonds. No one left their seats when he was coming up. Flashbulbs went off all around the ballpark. If he swung (and in this particular game that was rare; I think he walked three times) more flashbulbs, hoping to catch a swing for another historic homer. The moment his plate appearance finished, we could go back to our normal business and buy concessions, use the restrooms, etc. But you timed everything for Barry coming to the plate.

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      • to Breadbaker:
        This is somewhat unrelated to Bonds or the main article at hand, but a similar story of my own that can tie in with PED use and the presence that some of the players using them gave off, regardless of whether or not they were branded “cheaters” then or now.

        Obviously the Cubs of the 90s were pretty terrible. The first Cubs game I had ever attended, with my dad, came before Sosa was a member of the organazation. I’m almost positive it was a game against the Reds who I believe were leading the division at the time — Cubs won that day too… Shawon Dunston had always been my favorite player before Sammy along and turned into a 30-30 threat, but I don’t remember if this was before, after, or during the Shawon-o-meter craze… I was pretty young– but we sat in the bleachers and I just remember looking around at the rest of the park and seeing so many empty seats. I would go on to attend many more Cubs games during the 90s and upon Sosa’s emergence became a a fanatic of his. My dad had a friend who has had season tickets for years and years, same spot… and before tickets became in demand we would go to a number of games over any given season and there were multiple occasions where we’d leave early or right after the 7th inning stretch. Being pretty young for most of these occasions myself, I doubt I was filling out the scorecard or 100% immersed in the action each game. Long story short… we would always wait for Sosa’s last at bat if we were planning on leaving early. After his at bat, see ya. It seemed like more than half of the people there did the same. There were many blowouts we attended… some where it was over before they were up to bat. But everyone’s cut-off point, whether it be the 5th of after the stretch, seemed to be after Sosa came up to the plate. I can remember this being the case even before he started mashing 60 a year… when he was a 30/30 scrawny guy, Chicago still loved him and he was the only reason to come out for the years he was hitting 60+. I remember a game on fathers day my dad and I went to against the Brewers — and I want to say it was actually a cross-town game, the first year maybe as the Brewers were still in the AL. Sosa hit two or three HRs that day. It might’ve also been the same day the air & water show was going on in Chicago, where jets would dip over Wrigley during the national anthem. All of this babbling aside… my point in the story is whether these guys cheated with the rest of their era or not, a good portion of them were very talented as is and a joy to watch. I really do wish I was oblivious to the fact that many of these guys abused the system… because I grew up watching this generation, and I often do wonder what I’ll tell my kids (god help me if they aren’t sports fans or all girls) or grandkids when they ask me about guys like Sosa, Bonds, McGwire, ’98… etc.

        Cheaters or not, these guys entertained us and let the sport thrive. Without steroids, they obviously were still greatly talented (ie. David Segui was a juicer I’m pretty sure… do the math). I really would love to know just how many players who donned an MLB or MiLB uniform at some point in time from 1990-2000 at least tried steroids or a now-illegal substance once… some of these players that were users were just that good and obviously it showed, but their egos let that get in the way and it really is kind of a bummer…

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    • Michael says:

      I agree. The likelihood that Barry took whatever Barry took (more than likely because two other guys were getting all his attention) in no way for me diminishes watching what may have been the greatest hitter to ever walk the earth.

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  7. SirKev says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Bonds was/is/probably always will be the greatest hitter I have ever seen. Those years between 2002-2005 were like nothing I ever expereienced. In the park or at home, I always stopped whatever I was doing to watch a Barry at-bat. I certainly don’t feel cheated by those years. The only person I feel cheated by is Dusty Baker, but I’ll save that for another time.

    What people forget about Barry is that he helped save the Giants and build AT&T Park. In 1992, the Giants were thisclose to being the Tampa Bay Giants. McGowan bought the team and signed Barry as a FA for 1993. I was at opening day in 1993 and the excitement and energy was something I had never seen at a baseball game. The pregame stuff was the best. Tony Bennett sang “I left my heart in San Francisco”, the Greatful Dead sang the National Anthem, and the craziest moment was when Michael Bolton (yes, the singer!) presented Barry with his 1992 NL MVP.

    I loved every moment of the Bonds era in San Francisco and would trade none of it. Dusty Baker on the other hand…

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  8. Jimbo says:

    Makes me get a better feel for how otherworldly Ruth was. Even with the juice, and the general increase in modern-era offense, Bonds holds 4 of the top 12 full-season OPS figures…Ruth has 6. And Ruth is the all-time leader (still) in career OPS.

    Never saw Ruth play, but having seen Bonds stand out among his peers and STILL take a back seat to Ruth is amazing. Can’t imagine how good Ruth was vs HIS peers!

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  9. Suzyn Waldman says:

    You’re stealing my catchphrase, R.J.

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  10. Roy Hobbs Jr. says:

    What happened to the guy defending Bonds? Why did you take down his posts?

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  11. MattNC says:

    Bonds packed on 40 lbs. of muscle his body could not have developed without the massive ingestion of steroids. He also kept that muscle on all year when non-cheaters (such as Jeter, who usually starts the year at about 200-205 lbs. and ends it closer to 190) were losing muscle as the year progressed because they couldn’t work out during the season while playing an everyday position like they did in the off-season.

    Bonds’ normal decline phase became an ascendant phase, in which he improved his offensive performance by 40% (his wRC+ from age 37-40 versus age 33-36). No other player in history had such an improvement. Certainly no player already playing at an HOF level before he began using steroids did.

    BTW, increasing bat speed by 1 MPH will propel a 94 MPH fastball 8 feet farther. That means increasing bat speed by 7 MPH (about what Bonds did, to judge by the impact on his longest drives) allowed him to hit optimal drives about 55 feet farther, and fairly well-struck drives from 30-45 feet farther. That changes ballgames.

    Bonds brutally altered the outcome of baseball games through his cheating. A good estimate is that Bonds hit 100 home runs and received 500 walks that wouldn’t have happened if he had played without cheating.

    For those who say “well, the pitchers were doing it, too”, I would ask these questions:

    –What happened to the offensive numbers during the steroid era? Did they even out because some pitchers were also ingesting PEDs, or did offensive numbers explode?
    –Which player (hitter or pitcher) is in control of the playing implement that weighs six times what the opponent’s does (bat versus baseball)?

    Seems to me that what Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Giambi, Juan Gone, Caminiti, Manny, Clemens, etc. did had much more of an adverse effect on the outcome of games than Pete Rose’s gambling. Sure, players like Bonds (especially) and A-Rod had HOF talent without cheating, but doesn’t a player throw his HOF candidacy out the window when he decides to cheat every time he steps on a baseball field for years in a body that wouldn’t exist without illegal substances?

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    • Jimbo says:

      Where do you draw the line though? Use of illegal substances, sure…but when they weren’t banned by baseball was it technically cheating, or more disrespecting the game?

      Heck, why aren’t those elbow pads considered performance enhancing?? You get to lean over the plate, worry less about injury, and gain an advantage over the pitcher because of something artificial. (At the very least, I think if a guy wants to wear one and gets hit…call it a foul ball.)

      Interestingly, after all the debates…I think this is going to fall on us, the fans, to pass on a sober understanding of what went on in the era. Just one of the great aspects of baseball tradition!

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    • MattC says:

      MattNC where did you get the info as far as 8ft for every MPH of bat speed? Cause I heard the average bat speed for an MLB player is the mid to upper 70s so if those are accurate and you get 8ft for every MPH that means that your average player could hit a 94mph fastball over 600ft if they connected right which obviously isn’t the case. I’m not necessarily saying you’re wrong because maybe I’m not computing it right or my info is wrong about the average bat speed but just questioning it.

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    • B says:

      Honestly, can you back up a single assertion you just made with actual facts? Let’s go through them:

      “Bonds packed on 40 lbs. of muscle his body could not have developed without the massive ingestion of steroids.”

      That’s awfully specific. I call BS. I want evidence he gained 40 lbs, and evidence it was all the result of massive ingestion of steroids.

      “(such as Jeter, who usually starts the year at about 200-205 lbs. and ends it closer to 190) were losing muscle as the year progressed because they couldn’t work out during the season while playing an everyday position like they did in the off-season.”

      I call BS. I want evidence this is true of Jeter, he never used ‘roids, evidence suggesting just how much muscle players lose and what effect it has, and evidence suggesting how often they can/can’t work out during the season.

      “No other player in history had such an improvement. Certainly no player already playing at an HOF level before he began using steroids did.”

      So a player that already stands out from the rest of the crowd the way Bonds did doing something nobody else in history has done…and that’s evidence he used steroids? No, no it’s not. It may or may not suggest something, but it’s certainly not evidence on its own.

      “BTW, increasing bat speed by 1 MPH will propel a 94 MPH fastball 8 feet farther.”

      Where does any of this come from?

      “That means increasing bat speed by 7 MPH (about what Bonds did, to judge by the impact on his longest drives) allowed him to hit optimal drives about 55 feet farther, and fairly well-struck drives from 30-45 feet farther. That changes ballgames.”

      Where does that 7 mph figure come from, and where do those other numbers come from? Is there some sort of perfect linear relationship between distance and this measured bat speed you’re talking about?

      “Bonds brutally altered the outcome of baseball games through his cheating.”

      Meaningless babble, but as I’ve said earlier, I take issue with calling it cheating. Do we refer to the rest of the people that have broken the rules before as cheaters (assuming Bonds did, which may or may not be true)?

      “A good estimate is that Bonds hit 100 home runs and received 500 walks that wouldn’t have happened if he had played without cheating.”

      A good estimate? Says who? What evidence suggests that’s a good estimate?

      You ask a couple questions, but you leave a couple out, mostly ones that involve figuring out the direct effect PED’s had on the game. Offensive numbers increasing aren’t necessarily a reflection of PED use (and even if they are, it doesn’t mean that’s the entire, or even the biggest factor). New stadiums, the possibility of juiced balls, new bats, expansion teams….lots of factors to look for, so you have to somehow isolate PED use. Good luck.

      “but doesn’t a player throw his HOF candidacy out the window when he decides to cheat every time he steps on a baseball field for years in a body that wouldn’t exist without illegal substances?”

      Apparently not, given that guys like Willie Mays are in the HoF. Also, “in a body that wouldn’t exist without illegal substances”, again, prove it.

      Your entire post is just BS conjecture with no substance to back it up. Without real evidence behind your points, they’re meaningless.

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  12. recca says:

    You know who else cheated? Willie Stargell, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Gaylord Perry, Mike Schmidt, Pud Galvin, Don Drysdale, Red Faber, Burleigh Grimes, Stan Covelski, and probably Mickey Mantle. All of those players are in the Hall of Fame and nobody cares they cheated. If you are going to start excluding players from the hall of fame you should start with the players who are already in the hall of fame. Not to mention the racists, adulterers, child/wife beaters, drug addicts and drunks that are in the hall of fame. What you propose MattNC sends us down an extremely slippery slope.

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  13. Manley says:

    Looking at how good Bonds was is what pisses me off the most. He was one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time, and then he decided he needed to cheat. He was one of the best all around ballplayers, and then he decided to cheat to make himself one dimensional. Looking at how good Bonds was throughout his career, doesn’t make me respect him more, it makes me respect him less, because he had it all and he still cheated. I bet you that had he not used roids, he may have still beat the record and be playing today, and baseball would have been better for it.

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    • Jimbo says:

      Well said! That’s why I’m not sure you can keep him out of the HoF. So much is based on era-specific domination and even with others using PED…nobody did what he did.

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    • B says:

      Again, using the word “cheat” like you do really sets the conversation back and makes us all worse off. Just stop it. Let us move on to intelligent conversation that doesn’t involve branding a select group of players as different than every other player throughout history. If you want to call these guys cheaters, call everyone who used PED’s cheaters (yes, amphetamines are a PED, and yes, many greats throughout baseball history used them). If you want to have a rationale discussion about PED use, please drop the bullshit. We don’t need that.

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      • The Nicker says:

        B, using the word “cheat or “cheater” sets the conversation back? Why does it set the conversation back?

        Please see my above, belated, post.

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  14. Mark S says:

    Bonds wasn’t a baseball player. Bonds was a modified mobile howitzer.

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  15. MattNC says:

    Here’s the article about 1 MPH increase in bat speed resulting in 8 feet of carry:

    I took my statements about Jeter’s weight from his own words. He was quite thin when he came up, and gradually added muscle as he aged into his mid-twenties (normal body progression). You can see the truth of what Jeter said with your own eyes. Jeter puts on about 10 lbs. of muscle in the off-season (keep in mind that the guy is a legitimate 6-foot-3) and he ends the season noticeably thinner. There have been many times that I have seen a pic of Jeter and at first thought that it was of Jeter circa 1997, when he was still thin, but it turns out to be Jeter come playoff time, circa 2006.

    Bonds weighed about 195 before he started his massive ingestion of steroids. He was later listed at 228 lbs., and many sources estimated he was actually 235 lbs. I believe the latter. He was more bloated than an NFL linebacker, and he was over 6-foot-2.

    As Bill Jenkinson has pointed out, Bonds was on record as to already working out 3+ hours a day 5-6 days a week when he weighed 195. So he was already near his natural muscle ceiling. It was the steroids that allowed him to blow through this level. A man’s natural tolerance for weight work and muscle development (especially in the context of having to play baseball every day) decreases as he hits his late 30s —it doesn’t increase dramatically as it did for Bonds, absent massive steroids ingestion.

    Those who equate greenies with steroids should consider that players using mild stimulants such as greenies didn’t suddenly attain the ability to hit baseballs 50-70+ feet farther (again referring to Bill Jenkinson’s work on Bonds and McGwire’s distance hiting) , and retain that new ability for 5-10 years. Greenies just raise a player to the natural energy level he would have on some of his better days. Steroids make players into different men.

    The bottom line is that players like Bonds, McGwire and Sosa attained tremendous benefits from using illegal PEDs. They skewed competition on the ball field, altered the record books, and were part of a daisy chain of hundreds of players who decided they would have to cheat to keep up.

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    • Jimbo says:

      Did the owners know? Sure.
      Did the owners try to stop it? Not one bit.
      Did the owners hand out huge sums of money (starting with Clemens and Canseco) as a reward? Yup.
      In their shoes, would I take a pill to continue playing baseball and make tens of millions of dollars…especially when the stuff wasn’t banned and things like Andro were available at the local drug store?? Probably.

      In the end, it isn’t a black and white issue to me. I surrender the moral high ground to you sir. ;-)

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    • B says:

      The whole point of steroids vs. greenies isn’t that they help your performance on the same level, it’s from the perspective of “what makes these things morally wrong”. When you look at it that way, there’s a reason they’re both classified as PED’s – because they’re both objectionable for the same moral reasons, yet many people only choose to look at steroid use by one generation of players as wrong (ignoring that steroids themselves have been in baseball for decades).

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    • durs836 says:

      Your arguement has one flaw… you’re assuming his bat speed is a product of putting on more muscle. Lets get one thing straight; increasing your muscle mass does not automatically mean you gain strength protportionally. There are very specific workouts and regiments you follow to gain muscle mass but that does not mean you gain any strength. So Bond’s working out 3+ hrs a day 5-6 days a week while maintaining his 195 lb frame does not mean he wasn’t as strong as he was at his bloated 235 lbs. You’re also assuming that his increased mass was all muscle which i will almost guarentee it was not.

      Now I’m not saying that he didnt take anything because i think he did. But I have seen guys gain that much mass in a shorter amount of time the all natural way (strict workouts, diets, suppliments, etc.)… and all of them gained stength but not proportionally to their gain in mass. So the assumption that bigger equals stronger is not only flawed, its flat out wrong.

      Another HUGE flaw in your arguement is that increased muscle mass equals faster bat speed. Increased strength yes but but 40 lbs more mass has more detrimental effects to a swing than benefits. I dont know where you you are determining Bonds increased his bat speed by 7 mph from, but i will tell you its not a product of increasing his mass, instead it was mostly mechanical. Look at videos from say 1994-7 and you see he doesnt choke up that much then look at videos from 99-07 and you see a more choked up grip among some other mechanical tweaks. Pair that with increased with some greenies (which he did get caught for) which will increase your focus and help get the sweet spot of the bat on the pitch and his elite baseball skills and yes you will murder the ball.

      Also don’t overlook some of the players he had around him because getting better pitches to hit with his plate discipline and its a recipe for success. Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent batting around him in 2001 played a huge part in the type of pitches he saw and optimizing the opportunities to drive the ball. That season really was the perfect storm in terms of all the right pieces being in place to hit that many bombs (players around him, his physical conditioning, his overall health, his near perfect mechanics).

      If steriods are going to help with anything its going to be keeping a players body and energy up to the task of playing consistently at a high level for an entire season and to help the body bounce back from injuries quicker. Ask a guy who has taken steriods and the one thing they always talk about is the amount of energy you feel (God like energy)… that energy allows you more time in the gym, more time in the cage, minimized fatigue and the feeling of being 100%, 100% of the time. Also the way it helps you bounce back from minor injuries, keeping you on the field and playing up to 100% is really the key to the performance enhancing. This is why the mediocre players numbers spiked and why the elite players were shattering records.

      For a guy who can hit the way he did his best friend was time… the more tim he spends on the field, the more years he can play the more opprotunities he has to hit the bombs. Above all its not only being able to have a career as long as he did but also be able to perform at the levels he did for that long. Seriously even when he was playing at 75% health at the ages of 41 and 42 he was still hitting 25+ HRs with absolutely no protection in that anemic Giants offense.

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    • J.Mack says:

      I think a significant adjustment in the focus of a player’s training would likely have a correlating effect on their weight. It seems (I don’t have quotes or evidence in front of me, I’m sorry) Bonds altered his training to include a lot more weight work at the cost of speed and flexibility drills, while also making strides in his nutrition around the time of his weight gain and change in statistics. I don’t believe it tells the whole story but it is worth noting.

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  16. Kunal says:

    Fascinating stuff. To what extent steroids helped Barry Bonds we will never really know or be able to quantify. I have seen good arguments from both sides but I found this site a while back, it was made by Eric Walker, the guy who wrote the Sinister First Baseman. Forgive me if the site seems loony but I found his arguments to be worthwhile.

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  17. AdamOnFirst says:

    I would generally agree with the argument that I am most saddened by Bonds because of what he’d accomplished before the steroids. He was already a monster hitter along with an elite level defender and a superb baserunner. He absolutely excelled in every single phase of the game. He had a very good chance to surpass some of baseball’s very highest marks. He would have very likely, and poetically, ended up right next too his godfather Willie Mays, certainly one of the finest two or three players to ever step onto the field. His talent, work, dedication, drive, and skill were beyond incredible. He was truly a wonder to behold.

    Then he had to go and taint it. Because everybody else was doing it. because he knew he was the best but somebody else was stealing the story for the summer. What’s even more amazing is he was jealous of Sosa and Mcgwire in 1998, but didn’t get huge until several years later, so he presumably held out for quite awhile longer before finally taking the plunge.

    His legacy was was atop the highest of the high peaks, among the most revered ghosts of the American game was the highest regard for legends and history. Instead, now, we have to have the debates and his career will forever be tarnished by what happened at the very end.

    And that breaks my heart.

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  18. Brad Fullmer Fan says:

    Greatest hitter of all time.

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  19. blibros says:

    Jeter’s career 2nd half OBA/SLG are better than his 1st half, so not sure what the point is about the loss of muscle over the course of the season. If true, it doesn’t seem to be impacting his performance

    Looking at the article you sited as a source for the 1MPH of bat speed = 8 ft of distance, the graph presented in it indicates that the relationship is not at all linear. For example, at 20 MPH of bat speed you get about 60 of batted ball speed, almost a 3x ratio, but at 45-50 MPH you are falling under 2X, and this ratio will continue to fall as bat speed increases. So at the upper end, where Bonds is, I would guess the return for each MPH is very significantly less than 8MPH.

    Other impressive things about Bonds:

    He hit more HR at his home stadium 1 year than all other LH hitters who batted there combined, both SF players and opponents. That is staggering. When this stadium opened it repressed LH homerun hitting to a ridiculous extent, yet it had virtually no impact on Bonds, who hit HR at approximately the same rate home and road.

    When Randy Johnson was at his peak, very few LH batters played against him – even elite guys were usually “rested”. Bonds almost never sat out against RJ

    Yes, he cheated, but he also willingly played for years in the worst hitting park in baseball for LH hitters, and played for a team that surrounded him with perhaps the worst supporting offensive cast in baseball and no lineup protection whatsoever. While I am not a big believer in the benefits of lineup protection in general, in this case the effects were extreme and obvious.

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    • durs836 says:

      I agree with everything except his supporting cast. In 2001 when he hit his 73, he has Aurilia infront of him and Kent behind him. Bonds had some his best years with Jeff Kent and/or Aurilia hitting around him. Now i’ll admit its not like having another one of him batting aroun dhim, but those guys where solid enough to provide the proper amount of protection, that is when pitchers would actually pitch to him.

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  20. Clay Hensley- who’s that? He’s the pitcher Bond’s hit #755 off in SD. He was suspended for 50 games for steroids. Some incredible irony there.

    I’m sitting in the CF bleachers with my 8 and 10 year old sons. Bond’s is at 754 every swing had the intensity of a bottom of the 9th 7th game of the world series. I videoed the at bats with my 8 year old waving his rubber chicken and the crowd hanging on every pitch. Without a doubt he’s the single most exciting hitter I’ve ever seen.

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  21. bagofries says:

    What does it mean to have a .xxx wOBA to right/center/left field? Since wOBA incorporates walks, is this a wOBA on batted balls only?

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  22. Hello People! Just wanted to tell you that I bought tickets to the A Perfect Circle concert on Jun 29th. In this webpage you can find tickets for other dates too. It’s astonishing their performance on stage, this is my fourth time and I’m still so excited about listening them live! On this page you can see the section where you’re buying the ticket, so it’s very recommended!

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