A-Rod: The latest member of an exclusive club.....
Here’s something you may not be willing to accept: Barry Bonds is probably one of the five best hitters to ever play professional baseball, regardless of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Bill James called him “certainly the most unappreciated superstar of my lifetime.” Bonds was, according to James, by far the best player of his era. It should be noted that Bill James wrote this after the 1999 season—that is, he wrote it before five consecutive seasons in which Bonds had an OPS over 1.100, an OBP of at least .440 (and over .500 four times), and (in)famously set the single-season home run record, with 73 home runs in 2001. Continue reading »
Imagine, for a moment, that the home run totals of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and any other slugger strongly linked to steroids between 1998 and 2007 never happened. Not that they were invalidated in retrospect or slapped with an asterisk, but that they had never even happened in the first place.
Nobody knows what BALCO is, George Mitchell is still only known for his work in Israel, and the most home runs ever hit in single season is still 61. (Really, the only thing we’d miss are those “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” commercials.)
Well, guess what? Albert Pujols is on pace to end this year with about 59 home runs. OH MY GOD! HE HAS A SHOT AT THE RECORD THAT HAS STOOD FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS!
Now, I realize that this scenario is imaginary, but right now Pujols is having a very impressive year. He is batting .336 with 32 home runs, 85 RBIs and an astonishing .739 slugging percentage. It is getting to the point where you have to consider walking him with nobody on base. His OPS is 1.202; no player has had an OPS that high over a full season since Barry Bonds.
And that’s the problem. Pujols is putting up Bondsian numbers, and we all know how Bonds put those numbers up. Before Bonds, the last player to put up an OPS that high was, er, Mark McGwire.
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