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A dozen days in the life of Barry Bonds

Aug 19, 2013, 2:44 PM EDT

Barry Bonds AP

A lot of people are talking about the awesomeness of Miguel Cabrera … and rightfully so. He’s the best hitter on earth right now. I love watching the guy hit baseballs. Thing is, I heard someone on television the other day say something like: “I’ve never seen a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera.” And I thought to myself: OK, look, maybe we want to forget that baseball happened from 1995 to 2005 or so. Maybe that time period was irredeemably tainted by performance enhancing drugs. Maybe it will come to be viewed as an inauthentic time … kind of the garbage-in, garbage-out school of thought.

But, you know, it DID happen.

And nobody — I mean nobody who ever lives — will be a better hitter than Barry Bonds was in 2004.

Before even getting to Bonds, we should mention Albert Pujols, who has fallen from grace so rapidly that it seems people forget that everything Cabrera’s doing now, Pujols did it first.

Miguel Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs to win the Triple Crown?

Pujols in 2006 hit .331 with 49 homers and 137 RBIs (and, incidentally, didn’t lead the league in ANY of the three categories).

This year, Cabrera is hitting .360 with 40 homers and 120 RBIs.

In 2003, Pujols hit .359 with 43 homers and 124 RBIs, plus FIFTY ONE doubles and he scored 137 runs.

In his decade, Pujols hit .359, 357 and four times hit hit between .329 and .331. He hit between 41 and 49 homers six times. He drove in 120 runs six times. And those were just his triple crown numbers. He also stole some bases (twice stealing 16), won a couple of Gold Gloves, was touted constantly for his intangibles while still managing to lead the league in that much debated WAR statistic four years in a row. As I’ve written before and will write again: Miggy is a demigod. But Prince Albert was there first.

And then, to be fair, Frank Thomas was there before Pujols.

Then there was Bonds. And he’s an entirely different category. You can argue, if you like, that every single thing Bond ever did on a baseball diamond is tarnished and blemished and unworthy of memory. That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. The counter argument is: Whoa! That’s all. Whoa! It seems to me that even if you THINK you remember how ridiculous he was, you probably don’t. I didn’t. I went back and found 12 games he played from August 10 to August 21 in 2004. I kind of picked the games at random — I was only going to do one series, but then I kept going because, frankly, it still absolutely blows the mind. He broke the game, that’s what he did. He tilted it. He blue screened it.

Take a look:

August 10 (Giants lose to Pirates 8-7)
AB 1: Runner on 2nd. WALK (five pitches).
AB 2: Runner on 1st. WALK (on full count)
AB 3: Runner on 3rd. FLY OUT (warning track in right)
AB 4: Leads off. HOME RUN
AB 5: Nobody on. STRIKEOUT (looking)

August 11 (Giants lost to Pirates 8-6)
AB 1: Bases loaded. WALK (on full count)
AB 2: Runner on 2nd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 3: Nobody on. FOUL POPOUT.
AB 4: Nobody on. GROUNDOUT (first base).
AB 5: Leads off inning. INTENTIONAL WALK.

August 12 (Giants beat Pirates 7-0)
AB 1: Runner on 2nd. Pitched to! DOUBLE (off centerfield wall)
AB 2: Runner on 1st. WALK (five pitches)
AB 3: Runners on 1st and 2nd. LINEOUT.
AB 4: Runners on 1st and 2nd. WALK (full count).

August 13 (Giants beat Phillies 16-6)
AB 1: Nobody on. WALK (five pitches)
AB 2: Runners on 2nd and 3rd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 3: Runners on 2nd and 3rd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 4: Runner on 2nd. SINGLE.
AB 5: Nobody on. HOME RUN.

August 14 (Giants beat Phillies 7-6 — Bonds did not start game)
AB 1: As pinch hitter in eighth with nobody on base. INTENTIONAL WALK.

August 15 (Giants beat Phillies 3-1)
AB 1: Runner on 2nd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 2: Lead off inning. FLYOUT (To deep centerfield)
AB 3: Lead off inning. WALK (full count)
AB 4: Lead off inning. GROUNDOUT (to 2nd base)

August 16 (Giants beat Expos 8-5)
AB 1: Runner on 2nd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 2: Runner on 1st. STRIKEOUT (looking)
AB 3: Lead off inning. WALK (five pitches)
AB 4: Leadoff inning. POPOUT (third baseman)
AB 5: Runners on 1st and 2nd. WALK (four pitches)

August 17 (Giants beat Expos 5-4)
AB 1: Lead off inning. HOME RUN
AB 2: Runner on 1st. HOME RUN.
AB 3: Runners on 1st and 3rd. INTENTIONAL WALK.
AB 4: Nobody on. FLYBALL (Deep centerfield)

August 18 Game 1 (Expos beat Giants 6-2)
AB 1: Pinch hitter in eighth, runners on 1st and 2nd. POP OUT (third baseman)

August 18 Game 2 (Giants beat Expos 14-4)
AB 1: Runners on 2nd and and 3rd. INTENTIONAL WALK
AB 2: Runner on 1st. WALK (five pitches)
AB 3: Lead off inning. SINGLE.
AB 4: Nobody on. HOME RUN.

August 20 (Giants beat Mets 7-3)
AB 1: Nobody on. SINGLE.
AB 2: Runner on 1st. SINGLE.
AB 3: Nobody on. DOUBLE.
AB 4: Runner on 1st. GROUNDOUT (shortstop)

August 21 (Mets beat Giants 11-9)
AB 1: Runner on 2nd. WALK (full count)
AB 2: Lead off inning. TRIPLE.
AB 3: Leadoff inning. WALK (four pitches)
AB 4: Runner on 1st. DOUBLE.
AB 5: Runner on 1st. SINGLE.

It’s a cartoon. It’s a busted video game. In those 12 games, Barry Bonds hit .556. He slugged 1.333. He hit five home runs. He walked 21 times, nine of them intentional. His on base percentage — are you ready for this? Yeah: .750. He got on base three-fourths of the time he came to the plate.

But is that surprising? Heck, his on-base percentage for the entire year was .609. That was the crazy level of fantasticality Barry Bonds achieved. One year he hit 73 home runs and slugs .863, the all time record. The next he hits .370 and walks 198 times. The next he slumps to .341/.529/.749. And in 2004, the year he broke the game, he hit .362, walked 232 times, was intentionally walked 120 times, nobody will ever have a year like that again.

Everybody has their own thought on the steroid part of the equation. But the truth is that in 2004 (and it wasn’t very different in 2001, 2002 or 2003) someone became so good at the game of baseball that there was really no way to deal with. It was like an alien coming from outer space with some weapon we simply cannot counter. It was like some running back coming along who is 10 feet tall, weighs 475 pounds and cannot be tackled even by all 11 men. The guy on TV who said he’s never seen a better hitter than Miguel Cabrera might want to exclude players he believes cheated the game, and that’s absolutely his right. But, make no mistake: He HAS seen a better hitter.

  1. garlicfriesandbaseball - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Say what you want, there’s one major league baseball record that will NEVER be broken and that’s intentional walks. Bonds ~ 688; Closest to him ~ 283. Imagine what records he might have if he’d been allowed to “hit” during those 688 at-bats.

  2. sportsfan18 - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:16 AM

    Yes, Barry Bonds had a higher peak than both Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.

    But even Bonds didn’t have a sustained 10 yr run that equaled Albert Pujols’ first 10 seasons in the big leagues…

    For those who may not know off the top of their heads, Albert hit over .300 his first 10 seasons while hitting at least 30 home runs in those 10 seasons while driving in 100 RBI’s or more. He achieved all three of these milestones for 10 consecutive years.

    Barry Bonds best streak in his 22 season MLB career as far has hitting over .300 for consecutive seasons was only for 5 consecutive seasons.

    In Barry Bonds first 10 seasons, he only hit .300 or better in 4 of those seasons, not all 10 like Albert.

    Bonds hit .223 his first yr in over 400 at bats… He hit under .250 in his 4th season in 580 at bats…

    The most consecutive seasons Barry Bonds had 100 or more RBI’s was 4 straight years and he did this twice in his 22 seasons, two stretches where he drove in 100 or more for 4 straight years.

    In his first 10 seasons, he drove in 100 or more in only 5 of the seasons compared to all 10 of Albert’s first 10 seasons. Also, Barry Bonds drove in less than 60 runs in each of his first 4 seasons in the big leagues.

    Yes, Barry hit a lot of home runs. He went 13 consecutive yrs with 30 or more HR’s. This is the only stat of these 3 that Barry exceeded Albert’s 10 consecutive seasons but Barry didn’t do it his first 10 yrs in the big leagues. Barry didn’t begin his stretch of 13 consecutive seasons over 30 HR’s until his 7th season in the majors…

    Cabrera is currently on a streak of 7 consecutive yrs with 30 or more HR’s but he didn’t do this for his first 10 seasons in the big leagues.

    Cabrera now has driven in 100 or more runs for 10 consecutive seasons.

    Cabrera has now gone 5 consecutive seasons hitting over .300 (I’m counting this yr as I don’t see him falling below .300 anymore at this point in the season.

    Yes, Miggy has been the games best hitter for several yrs now.

    Yes, Bonds was the games best hitter for a long time many yrs ago. His peak was crazy high, much higher than Albert’s or Cabrera’s…

    However, even Bonds didn’t have a 10 yr stretch where he hit .300 or higher while hitting 30 or more HR’s and while driving in 100 or more runs… Again, Bonds never went more than 4 consecutive seasons driving in more than 100 runs… And Bonds most consecutive seasons hitting .300 or more was only 5 yrs in a row…

    Barry Bonds isn’t even a lifetime .300 hitter. Now I realize there is more than just batting average as his OBP and Slugging and OPS numbers were other worldly…

    Obviously the three of them are/were amazing when it came to hitting the ball…

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Bonds was very good before steroids, but as the most egregious offender of the steroid era, when his head grew bigger than his ego, his testicles were raisins, and bacne ruled his world…none of his ‘records’ mean a fucking thing…period.

      Same for Pujols. His trainer outed him before steroids were such a big deal and before testing began, but you can take it to the bank Pujols was as big a user as Bonds.

      They are Frauds, and anyone foolish enough to claim their so-called ‘records’ are legitimate are simply lying to themselves, and good luck with that. Maybe it makes you feel better to hero-worship some bulked up idiots, I don’t know…whatever makes you happy.

  3. canadianguest - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    Bonds = PED’s

    And the sad thing is, he didn’t need them. He was already HoF bound, but the super ego just had to have more.

    I believe Bonds either started using PED’s sometime in 2000, or at the least, began using them a lot more.

    Name ONE other player, EVER, IN ANY MAJOR SPORT, who improved his career stats, for 4 straight years, AFTER the age of 36, without the use of PED’s??

  4. abjkvargas - Aug 20, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    The writer is ignoring the elephant in the room. First off, Pujols and Cabrera have done their thing between the ages of 20 and 30. While Bonds was great from 20-30 as well, he just is a level below. Lets take a quick look:

    AP: G-1558 H-1900 HR-408 RBI-1230 .331/.426/.624/1.050
    MC: G-1628 H-1962 HR-361 RBI-1243 .321/.399/.570/.969
    BB: G-1540 H-1558 HR-312 RBI-938 .287/.398/.541/.938

    Bonds and Cabrera about equal (except BA) and Pujols clearly in another league. But what makes most people discredit Bonds is what happened after the age of 35:

    BB: G-986 H-925 HR-317 RBI-697 .322/.517/.724/1.241

    Bonds AB’s per HR was 15.9 until he was 35. After 35… 9.1

    Has there ever been a player that their skills not only sustained after they hit 35, but actually increased at such a great %? How can you say they didn’t help him see the ball better? How many people’s eyesight gets better as they age? He and Clemens are the only ones that I know of has their skill increase after the age of 35. There is no way you can count his PED years. His numbers are useless to use as an argument for his greatness. He is a phony. Now we just have to hope that Cabrera isn’t a user and that Jack Clark’s statements about Pujols aren’t true.

  5. babyjesus69 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Enough about babe Ruth and his feats. He never played against minorities. – a white guy

  6. coloradogolfcoupons - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Posnaski, Bonds was a STEROID Machine, period. Whaqt pitcher NOT on roids wants to lose a game pitching to a POS steroid hulk? Bonds needs to be erased from any record book, and his baseball card should show ZERO stats, and just these FACTS:

    1. “Biggest Steroid Head Ever Measured”
    2. Worst case of Bacne ever witnessed
    3. Testicles can’t be seen without electron microscope
    4. Most arrogant asshole in the world.

    Truth in advertising

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