Yesterday, we talked about the possibility that Albert Pujols is in the midst of his best season, but that his performance has gone largely unnoticed due to our general expectation that he will be, well, awesome. In the discussion thread, one of the topics mentioned involved how we, as fans, are desensitized to Pujols’ 1.100+ OPS primarily due to the absolutely ridiculous seasons of Barry Bonds from 2001-04. With that in mind, I’d like to remind those that have forgotten exactly what the much-maligned Bonds did in this four-year span.
First, just a general look at some of his numbers:
Year GP 2B HR BB K BA/OBP/SLG OPS 2001 153 32 73 177 93 .328/.515/.863 1.379 2002 143 31 46 198 47 .370/.582/.799 1.381 2003 130 22 45 148 58 .341/.529/.749 1.278 2004 147 27 45 232 41 .362/.609/.812 1.422
His slash line in this entire span was .349/.559/.809, which resulted in an OPS of 1.368, a good 300 points ahead of second-place Todd Helton. Each component of that slash line led the major leagues in this span as well. Bonds posted an OPS+ of 256 in these four years, way ahead of Albert Pujols‘s 167.
We all know the walks are just mind-boggling, as are the intentional free passes, but Bonds did not strike out much in his actual qualifying at-bats either. It was literally frightening to face him from 2001-04 and teams counteracted this fright by just conceding an open base (or even letting him go to first when the base was occupied) and hoping to retire the subsequent batters.
His WPA/LI counts in these years: 13.04, 11.96, 8.92, 10.87. Yes, they led the league each year, by quite the large margin as well. The closest year came in 2003, when Albert Pujols still finished over 1.5 wins lesser than Bonds.
Looking at these years from an all-time perspective, his OPS numbers in each season ranks amongst the top eight of all time, with his 2004 season ranking first. The 2002 season ranks third, 2001 ranks fourth, and 2003 ranks eighth. Babe Ruth occupies spots #2, 5, and 6, with Ted Williams claiming seventh place. Now, you might be inclined to think that Ruth’s OPS+ would be much higher given that the offense “back in the day” wasn’t as good as it is now, but you would be wrong.
In actuality, Bonds’ OPS+ in 2002, 2004, and 2001 rank #1, 2, and 3 on the all-time list, with his 2003 season coming in at #9. In my estimation, this is hands down the greatest four-season stretch of offense in the history of the sport.
I’ll close by reiterating something RJ Anderson at Beyond the Box Score showed not too long ago. The WARP3 (Wins Above Replacement Player) of the average Hall of Fame hitter is 118.2. The WARP3 of Barry Bonds is 236.4. Barry Bonds makes the average Hall of Fame hitter look like a replacement player.
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