Skip to content

Over the long haul, Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame prospects aren’t that bad

Aug 10, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

Barry Bonds Convicted Of One Count Of Obstruction Of Justice Getty Images

Gregg Doyel has a column up over at about why he thinks Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer. This part, though, about his CBS colleagues, is interesting to me: has seven baseball writers—three with actual HOF votes—and five of the seven said they would vote for Bonds. That’s 71.4 percent in favor of induction, with 75 percent required for admittance.

Again, that’s a small sample size—and here comes an even smaller (but more telling) sample size:

Of our three Hall voters at—longtime baseball writers Scott Miller, Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman—just one said he’d vote for Bonds. Which one? That’s for him to say, if he chooses. Point being, Bonds’ candidacy is supported primarily by the newer-media bloggers at, an ominous trend given that most Hall voters are longtime writers from the Miller, Knobler and Heyman mold.

I’m not sure it’s quite so ominous. I agree that the longer-tenured, more established voters are more likely to be anti-Bonds and anti-PED guys in general, and that for that reason he faces a tough road for some time. But time marches on and that electorate is going to change quite a bit in the next 15 years.

And it will be 15 years, because even if Bonds doesn’t get in any time soon, it’s almost certain that he’ll get enough support to remain on the ballot.  Mark McGwire does, after all — he has ranged from 19% to 23% in the voting since he’s been on the ballot — and there’s no rational reason anyone who votes for McGwire wouldn’t vote for Bonds.

Add more to Bonds, in fact, because some people who don’t vote for McGwire don’t withhold votes simply because he did PEDs, but rather, because they are the “discounters,” as it were, and simply think that McGwire wouldn’t be in the conversation without PEDs (i.e they discount some credit for is career totals due to PED use). Such voters likely will feel differently about Bonds given what he did before it’s generally accepted that he did PEDs, figuring that even with the discount he’d be a Hall of Famer.

So, that gives you a baseline of, at the very least, 25% or so for Bonds. And I’d bet that he gets something closer to 50% of the vote.  Then you add in the demographic shift.

It takes ten years as a BBWAA member to become a Hall of Fame voter. So even if one is just admitted to the BBWAA this year — as we here at NBC are going to attempt to do — Barry Bonds will still be on the Hall of Fame ballot for five years after one is allowed to vote.

Not that it’s just starting now, of course.  Younger voters who are more inclined to be open to Bonds’ candidacy — I’d say anyone who began regularly covering baseball in the nineties or later — began being admitted to the BBWAA several years ago and are being given Hall of Fame ballots in greater numbers. Many — especially the web-based members like Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Will Carroll, the Baseball Prospectus guys and the FanGraphs guys — are still several years away.  The upshot: between now and the end of Bonds’ theoretically continuing unsuccessful candidacy, there should be a pretty significant shift in the aggregate attitude of the Hall of Fame electorate.

So, yes, Bonds’ odds of being elected are pretty long in the short term.  But it would surprise me greatly if Bonds spent 15 years on the Hall of Fame ballot without being voted in.

In fact, I’d even offer to eat my hat if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing they will have cured baldness by 2027, so I will no longer have a need for hats.

  1. chill1184 - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    If any of the juicers get into the HoF then I see no reason to continue to keep Pete Rose out as a player.

    • ditto65 - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      As soon as they lift the ban on Pete, he will go in.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        As soon as they lift the ban on Shoeless Joe, they’ll lift the ban on Pete.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Baseball has formal penalties for both PED usage and betting on baseball. Here’s a hint – only one carries a lifetime ban.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        But Pete isn’t trying to play baseball…

      • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 10, 2012 at 7:23 PM

        A ban from baseball doesn’t have to be a ban from the hall of fame. The HoF made that decision after he was banned.

    • paperlions - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      According to multiple industry sources, there are already guys that took steroids in the HOF….in any case, there are already dozens of amphetamine users in the HOF, and evidence suggests it was at least as helpful as steroids.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Aug 10, 2012 at 7:24 PM

        How was it at least as helpful. People were doing ampetamines and then the explosion of offensive numbers coincided with steroids.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

        No, it didn’t, unless you want to argue that half of baseball decided to start juicing all at the same time. Also, if we’re going to play that game, offense didn’t start to fall off until they started testing for amphetamines, a couple years after steroids.

    • lardin - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      Big difference between the two. Bonds has never been banned from baseball and is thus eligible to appear on a ballot and possibly voted into the Hall of fame. Rose has been banned from baseball and therefor not eligible to appear on a ballot, and the writers are not given the opportunity to vote for Rose.

      Rose has zero chance of getting in… Bonds Clemens and the rest of the PED users have an outside shot…

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM

        Rose has zero chance of getting in…

        While Bud is commissioner….

    • atworkident - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Rose should go in as a bookie

  2. cur68 - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    One day, man you gonna lose one of these bets and then that hat is gonna need some mustard to get down. When that day comes do not come crying to me about the awfulness of Emergency Room visits and the need for a stomach pump. Couldn’t you just offer to dress amusingly? Why the need to consume felt? Honestly.

  3. tuftsb - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Craig – as a former attorney you should be conscious that the phrases used in these types of articles should be either “illegal PED’s (federal law) or “banned PED’s (MLB CBA related) – not just PED’s.

    That’s a mistake a sportswriter or Sarah Palin would make :<)

  4. jkcalhoun - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    That’s all very well and good, but what I really want to know is: what are the Hall of Fame’s long term prospects as an irrelevant institution?

  5. sdelmonte - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    In the long run, we are all dead – John Maynard Keynes. (I just love that quote.)

    In the slightly less long run, I think if Bonds doesn’t get in through the BBWAA, the Old Timers Committee will have enough anti-steroids ex-players that his chances will be even smaller there. But I do think he gets in from the writers at some point.

  6. schrutebeetfarms - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    When assuming some people don’t vote for McGwire cause without PEDs he’d not have been eligible, don’t forget those who won’t vote for Bonds because he was a dick.

    Shouldn’t really be a criteria but it probably is to some voters as well and should be part of the conversation while it is in the speculation stage.

    • SOBEIT - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      There are a lot of dicks in the HOF…

      • ezthinking - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        Pretty sure everyone in the hall has/had a dick.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 10, 2012 at 7:03 PM

        Not everyone, there are some women in the HoF (at least one definitely cited in The Soul of Baseball)

  7. minimoose763 - Aug 10, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Disclaimer: I am a Giants fan and I personally think Bonds should be in the Hall. However, I completely understand why so many people dislike him and don’t think he should be voted in. But I do think it’s silly for the HOF to act like the Steroid Era never happened. It’s a part of baseball history, for better or for worse, and should be acknowledged (but not glorified) and discussed.

  8. tjg25 - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I’ll never visit the HoF anyway. Bonds doesn’t need to be inducted to prove his greatness to me or anyone with half a functioning brain.

  9. smokehouse56 - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Hey tjg, I think my brain is fully functioning. Even though my wife disputes that. Having said that, the only way Bonds and the other juicers get into the HOF is with a ticket. Babe Ruth hit 60 and this clown hits 73? Enough said.

    • ezthinking - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      Try to accurately list all the juicers and non-juicers. You do realize the SI articles on athletes using steroids goes back to the early ’50’s don’t you? 1968 Olympic was the steroid olympics. Christ they started gender testing it was so bad. And not one ball player took steroids and made it to the Hall in the past. Amazing.

      • raysfan1 - Aug 10, 2012 at 5:08 PM

        SI had an article on PEDs in 1960.

        There is one known steroid user in the Hall, from the 19th century: Pud Galvin.

        Tom House has talked about using steroids in the 1970s.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      We don’t know what Babe was taking in his training regimen. He probably didn’t know what he was taking, and the times were quire a bit different when it came to additives. Take for example this quote from snopes:

      “Coca-Cola didn’t become completely cocaine free until 1929…”

      When comparing stats across across generations, we are not comparing apples to apples here folks.

  10. ebrownwareagle - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Greatest Baseball Player in this generation if not ever. First Ballot HAll of Fame! Most MVP’s of all time, before alleged PED usage 3 MVP’s tied for most ever in the League. 6 in one hand o 1/2 dozen in the other. However you look at it Bonds was the best.

  11. kalinedrive - Aug 10, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I’m not sure he gets the 15% to stay on the ballot after the first year. There’s a lot of anti-Bonds stuff that may keep people from voting for him the first year, thinking he should at least be made to wait, and if enough people leave him off, thinking they’ll vote for him after he’s served his probation or done his penance or whatever, he could be a one-and-done guy. But I guess the McGwire example is as good a predictor as we have.

    • ezthinking - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      It’s 5% to stay on.

  12. stercuilus65 - Aug 10, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Dream on Craig, he’s not going to get in although I’m you will keep campaigning for him.

    • Detroit Michael - Aug 10, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      Barry Bonds will eventually be inducted in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know whether it’s within 15 years or 50, but eventually some group will recognize that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ban all steroid users during a time period when there was no testing for steroid use and no suspensions ever handed hand. Eventually, with enough distance in time, 75% of a group will crack the ban. Eventually, they’ll realize that the Hall shouldn’t omit most of an entire generation of superstar players when Baseball (both management and union) didn’t want to lift a finger.

  13. lakerslegacy2432 - Aug 10, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    should be a lock to HOF as well as pete rose

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 10, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      I honestly don’t get the Pete Rose for HoF nonsense. Can you explain it? Why does a guy who broke, then lied for 15+ years, the cardinal rule of baseball get into the HoF?

  14. seeingwhatsticks - Aug 10, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    I find it disgusting that a bunch of “journalists” who refused to investigate PED’s in baseball still have the power to vote for the HOF at all, let alone the fact that they use that power to lecture the world on the ethics and moral implications of PED’s. Buster Olney is about the only one I can think of who has publicly admitted that he dropped the ball on this issue and I give him a lot of credit for that. Wish the others would do the same.

  15. drew44 - Aug 10, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    No Bonds, no Clements, no A Roid. They ought to then yank out Cal Ripkin ( 2000 plus games with no injuries, right) , Nolan Ryan throwing in the high 90’s in his late 40’s… Right. Bonds was just the best with the best stuff. The writers just don’t like Bonds because he was a jerk.

  16. diablito0402 - Aug 11, 2012 at 2:58 AM

    All i know bonds was hitting homeruns like crazy he hit 50 something then 60 something then 73 then 60 something balco case came up so he had to clean up then he hit 22 homeruns then the following season hit like 24 or something, hmmmmm makes you think huh..

    • seeingwhatsticks - Aug 11, 2012 at 3:09 AM

      Yeah, makes you think that guys in their 40’s playing on one leg might not be all that great.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 11, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      homeruns like crazy he hit 50 something then 60 something then 73 then 60 something balco case came

      Point of fact, Barry Bonds never hit between 50-59 HR in a single season of his career, nor did he hit between 60-69 either. His career high outside his 73 HR season was 49. You know you can look this stuff up, right?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2594)
  2. B. Crawford (2406)
  3. Y. Puig (2342)
  4. G. Springer (2166)
  5. D. Wright (2053)
  1. J. Hamilton (2035)
  2. J. Fernandez (2033)
  3. C. Correa (1979)
  4. H. Ramirez (1963)
  5. D. Span (1940)