1.11.2006

Bobby Bonds Gets Stat Support for Hall of Fame - repost

Repost of article posted on November 19, 2005: corrected garbled first paragraph to include proper links to the article that prompted me to post this in the first place plus to my original article and follow-up article.

There was a very interesting article written by John Brattain for The Hardball Times about Bobby Bonds credential for the Hall of Fame. It has a lot more info than the original article that I wrote or the other one I wrote here on my blog.

One additional point the author could have added was that his totals were warped by the fact that he spent his early part of his career leading off and the latter as an RBI guy. That hurt his chances to get RBIs in the early part of his career, then hurt his chances to get runs later in his career. If he had strictly stayed one or the other, he could have put up bigger numbers in one or the other, instead of where he is now.

It gave him more of a jack of trades look, statistically, when he could have been a run machine like Ricky Henderson or an RBI machine like any other middle of the lineup guy. As it was, I think that he was up among the top 100 in a number of the major offensive categories when he retired but his notoriety as a strikeout beast, plus he didn't make friends in the media (imagine how bad Barry must be relatively for his dad to have told him to take it easy), cost him any chance for the Hall of Fame, as well as his travels to 7 teams in 7 years in his last years. And despite the strikeouts, his contact rate was at least over the 75% rate for much of his career, the minimum rate for contact, particularly during his best years. And he walked enough so that for his career, he had just over 50% walks:strikeout ratio, which is not as bad as one would think given all the strikeouts, though still not that good, just barely acceptable.

The author should have also emphasized his OBP a bit more. Yes, he struck out a lot but he also got a lot of walks, his walk rate was consistently and comfortably over 10%. Given what we know now about the importance of getting on base, I think this was one area that he was never given his due on. Thus his OBP throughout his career was in the OK to good range, .330 to .375, until his final years. And his OBP was at or above (looks like averaged about 24 point above) the league OBP for his whole career, except for his next to last season. That plus his power contributed to a strong OPS throughout most of his career. His OPS+ was consistently in the 120-150 range throughout his career. He never had one year with his OPS+ under 100, even at the end of his career.

Given all this, I've always thought that he should be in the hall of fame, but now with this further evidence, that should make his case a bit more: he was not just a prodigious strike-out artist, nor just a hybrid, odd-ball power-speed athlete, nor a failed Willie Mays wannabe (in media's eyes, of course), nor just Barry Bonds father - he was the best RF in the game for a 10 years out of 14 career seasons. What more does an baseball player have to do?

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