Talent wise Barry Bonds should not only have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, he should have challenged for the highest percentage of anyone who has ever been elected. Because he cheated, knowingly or unknowingly, he was not. For that I am glad.
We can find plenty of players who have done worse than what Bonds is accused of who are in the HOF, including Ty Cobb, who killed a man, and Cap Anson and other racists who helped keep the game segregated for decades.
We can find others who were questionable personalities: Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray, Jim Rice and Bert Blyleven were all considered media unfriendly. Roberto Alomar spit in an Ump’s face. Kirby Puckett had his demons and Gaylord Perry was famous for his spitball, which was banned before he was even born.
Bonds played the game as well as anyone has ever played it on the field. His seven Most Valuable Player awards, his single-season and career homerun titles weren’t his only contributions. He was an excellent base stealer; his glove was gold, and his eye at the plate may only be rivaled by Ted Williams. It obviously can’t be confirmed, but seeing his giant EGO before the steroids, one could see how he couldn’t handle seeing no-talent hacks like Sammy Sosa and Brady Anderson steal his spotlight. Even the oft-injured Mark McGwire was 220 pounds and rail thin at 6’5 before converting his body to almost 300 pounds of pure muscle probably frustrated Bonds. He was already a perennial All-Star. By playing out the string he would have been a Hall of Fame player without enhancement. I can see him wanting to show the world what a talented player could do on equal grounds, but that is just my opinion.
What isn’t in question however is the fact that he and Ken Griffey Jr http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/griffke02.shtml were the best players in the game for more than a decade before steroids. Very similar players, Griffey broke down once he got to Cincinnati and was never fully able to regain his luster. Griffey finished with sure shot HOF numbers, and I would have projected Bonds to have put up similar numbers without the use of any kind of enhancements because Bonds didn’t have any major career threatening injuries.
The fact that he was the most hated player of a generation plays against his credibility. He is a flawed human being in the fact that he has a hard time being human, but on the field he was the best hitter since Ted Williams and the best all around player since his godfather Willie Mays.
One thing to consider however is that he was still in great shape and he could have become a designated hitter in the American League, but he was unofficially blackballed from the game. If that had not happened, you could have added another 135 games 145 hits, 75 runs, 20 doubles, 30 homers, 85 RBI, 75 walks and five to 10 steals onto his career totals a season until he decided to retire two or three years later.
I am glad he didn’t make the HOF in 2013. I have a feeling the majority of people are going to disagree with me, but I think he should be in the HOF on the 2014 ballot.