And yet, Bonds has yet to be inducted in the the Baseball Hall of Fame due to his ties to performance-enhancing drugs. That could soon be changing though. According Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker, which aggregates all the ballots made public by the voters, Bonds is on 62.5 percent of the 217 ballots included as of Tuesday morning. And while Bonds isn’t expected to reach the required 75-percent threshold required for induction, a variety of factors are building a case for his enshrinement.
Here’s one more: Even if Barry Bonds had never used steroids, he would be a surefire Hall of Famer.
Start with the reality we’re facing, looking at Bonds’s full career totals, likely abetted by PED use. According to the Bill James Hall Monitor, Bonds is undoubtedly a Hall of Fame player, posting a score of 340, where 100 is a likely Hall of Famer. There are no left fielders who are ahead of Bonds in Jay Jaffe’s JAWS system, which “compares players to the players at his position who are already enshrined, using advanced metrics to account for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game’s history.” In fact, three of the fielders directly behind him — Williams, Rickey Henderson and Carl Yastrzemski — can all be found in Cooperstown.
Bonds admitted to using steroids after his personal trainer allegedly misled him into believing he was taking flaxseed oil and arthritis cream. Sworn testimony lists 1998 as the earliest known offense. Knowing that, if we just eliminate Bond’s career stats from 1999 to 2007 we see he still has a very strong case.
If his career had ended in 1998, Bonds would be a .290 hitter with 411 home runs, 1,917 hits, 1,216 RBI, 1,357 walks (289 intentional) and a .966 OPS (164 OPS+). There are four other players eligible for the Hall of Fame with at least 400 home runs and 1,900 hits combined with a .290 career average and 160 career OPS+, all are enshrined in Cooperstown — Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams.
Bonds had accrued 99.6 career wins above replacement by 1998 and he would rank 22nd all-time and 132 hitters with a lower career WAR mark are already in Cooperstown. His JAWS score, for a career ending in 1998, of 81.0 would also compare favorably to left fielders already in the Hall of Fame.
Some will never give Bonds their Hall of Fame vote because he tainted his career by cheating. But even if you completely discount the PED-aided portion of his career, he’d still be one of the game’s best players ever.