Congratulations to Barry Bonds for hitting home run # 715 yesterday. Whatever you think of him today, and however you think he covered the last steps on this journey, that's a hell of a feat for a truly outstanding player. Tim Kurkjian puts some of Bonds' greatness in perspective.
He slugged .809 in a five-year period: Ruth is the only other player ever to slug .800 in any season. Bonds is the sole member of the 700-home run, 500-steal club; only four players are in the 300-300 club, and no one else is in the 400-400 club. Bonds is the first player since Williams in 1941 and '42 to lead the major leagues in home runs one year and in batting the next (Bonds did so in 2001 and '02). And he has done most of this playing his home games at AT&T Park, one of baseball's most challenging ballparks for a hitter.
Of all his amazing numbers, his strikeouts might be the most amazing. In an era in which former Blue Jays shortstop Manny Lee once struck out 100 times in a season without hitting a home run, and in which Adam Dunn struck out 195 times (72 looking), Bonds rarely strikes out. In 2004, Bonds became the first player since George Brett in 1980 to have more home runs than strikeouts in a 20-homer season -- Bonds hit 45 that season, with only 41 strikeouts. The Rangers' Brad Wilkerson, for instance, struck out 37 times this April.
Bonds has been pitched to more cautiously than any player in history. He is the all-time walks leader; in 2004, he walked 232 times, more than Willie Mays' two highest season walk totals combined, and 62 more than the Babe's season high. Bonds has more intentional walks in this decade than anyone has in his career since the statistic became official in 1955. In 2004, he had more intentional walks -- 120 -- than any team in baseball history. That year, he was walked intentionally eight times with no one on base. In his career, he has been walked intentionally 69 times with first base occupied; the next four active players have 28 combined.
Be that as it may, whatever happens Bonds will forever be remembered for this feat. And don't weep for The Babe, as his legacy is doing just fine, thank you very much. If and when Bonds hits #756, may Henry Aaron be celebrated as much for establishing the mark for Bonds to reach as Bonds is for reaching it.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 29, 2006 to Baseball | TrackBack