Barry Bonds is a 6'1" leftfielder, a second generation San Francisco Giant, member of the 30-30 club, and all-star, the career and single-season record holder for home runs and walks, seven-time NL MVP, and almost assuredly not a future member of baseball's Hall of Fame. Let's instead focus on his time as an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with, half of the Killer B's.
Born on July 24th, 1964 in Riverside, CA, the lefthander was widely regarded as a five-tool player from the start. His pedigree (not only was Bobby Bonds his father, Reggie Jackson was his cousin) would have gotten him a look even without the unique skillset he boasted from the beginning. He was drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 1985 draft, sixth overall.
Bonds cut his teeth at the professional level with the Prince William Pirates, an "A" level farmclub in the Carolina League. He hit .299 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 71 games in 1985. 1986 would open with Bonds as part of the Hawaii Islanders, Pittsburgh's "AAA" affiliate in the Pacific Coast League. In 44 contests, he hit .311 with seven home runs and 37 RBI. His first major league appearance, according to baseball-reference.com, was on April 20th (in reality, it was a contest that was suspended in the 14th inning, Bonds actually made his appearance on August 11th). His real debut came on May 30th. He went 0-for-five with three strikeouts and a walk in a 6-4, 11-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. On July 5th, he provided most of the offense in a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers, going deep once out of his two hits, collecting three RBI and scoring two runs. In 113 total contests that season, he hit .223 with 16 home runs, 48 RBI, 36 stolen bases, and 65 walks (NL 10th) against a career high 102 strikeouts. He had 282 putouts (NL fourth) and 10 assists (NL second) in centerfield, finishing sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He batted mostly leadoff, with a handful of starts batting second, third, fifth, and seventh. At 64-98, the Pirates finished in last place in the NL East. They were not as bad as their record would indicate, however, as their pythagorian projection had them at 77 wins.
1987 would mark Bonds' first full major league season. In 150 games, he hit .261 with 99 runs scored (NL 10th), 34 doubles, nine triples (NL sixth), 25 home runs, 59 RBI, 32 stolen bases, and 54 walks versus 88 strikeouts. He registered a 5.8 WAR, ranking him ninth amongst NL position players. He had 218 putouts (NL fourth) and 10 assists (NL second) in his first season as Pittsburgh's starting left fielder (he played center field his first two months of the season, moving to center on June 2nd), batting leadoff 125 times. On May 12th, he went three-for-four with a walk, a round-tripper, four runs, a stolen base, and three RBI in a 12-5 Pirates win over the San Diego Padres. The Pirates improved to 80-82, remarkable considering their pythagorian projection had them unchanged from the prior season, at 77 wins (are unsustainable things sustainable? Cats and Dogs living together? WTF?).
Bonds proved his production was sustainable in the 1988 campaign, hitting .283 over 144 appearances. He scored 97 runs (NL seventh) and hit 30 doubles, five triples, 24 home runs, (NL ninth) and knocked in 58, rating a .491 SLG (NL seventh). He also stole 17 bases and drew 72 walks, 14 of them intentional (NL seventh) for an impressive .368 OBP (NL seventh). He would rank in the NL's top 10 in the IBB category in 18 of the next 20 seasons, with 16 times in the top five. His 6.2 WAR rating placed him eighth overall in the National League. His 288 putouts ranked him fourth amongst left-fielders. He again played mostly in left field and batting mostly in the leadoff spot. On August 13th, in a 10-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Bonds collected four hits, going deep twice and knocking in five total runs. Pittsburgh improved to 85-75, finishing 15 games behind the New York Mets.
In 1989, Bonds' average dropped to .249 over 159 games (NL eighth). He scored 96 runs (NL sixth), hit 34 doubles (NL seventh), six triples, and touched-em-all 19 times (his lowest figure until he turned 40). He collected 58 RBI, stole 32 bases (NL ninth), and walked 93 times (NL third), equalling his strikeout total for the first time in his career. He ranked third in the league with an 8.0 WAR rating. Also for the first time, he led the NL at the left field position with 366 putouts and 14 assists, his .984 fielding percentage placed him third. Most of the season, he batted leadoff, with a handful of starts in fifth. On opening day, April 4th, he opened the season with a bang, going four-for-four with a walk, two singles, a triple, and a home run in a losing effort as the Bucs dropped one to the Montreal Expos, 6-5. The Pirates finished fifth in the six team NL East, closing out with a 74-88 record.
1990 would see Bonds turn the corner and discover his power stroke. He hit .301 in 151 games, scoring 104 runs (NL sixth), 32 doubles (NL 10th), 33 home runs (NL fourth), and 114 RBI (NL fourth). He also stole a career high 52 bases (NL third), drew 93 walks (NL second) to 83 strikeouts, for a .406 OBP (NL fourth), and led the NL with a .565 SLG, a 9.7 WAR, and with a .970 OPS. He won his first Gold Glove, his first Silver Slugger, secured his first all-star selection, and won his first NL MVP Award. Defensively, he led the league at left field with 331 putouts and with 14 assists, ranking third with a .983 fielding percentage. For the Bucs, he batted in the five spot and played left field all season. On May 22nd, he went two-for-four with a home run and four RBI in an 8-4 road win over the Houston Astros. Pittsburgh went 95-67, winning the NL East by four games over the New York Mets. The Pirates faced the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS, losing the series in six games. Bonds went three-for-18, with six walks and five runs scored in the losing effort.
In 1991, Bonds hit .292 over 153 games, leading the NL with 313 outfield putouts, 13 left field assists, a .410 OBP and a .924 OPS. He scored 95 runs (NL eighth), hitting 28 doubles, 25 home runs, and 116 RBI (NL second) with 43 stolen bases (NL fifth). He walked 107 times (NL second) and collected 73 strikeouts. He ranked second in the NL with a 7.9 WAR rating and with a second place finish in the NL MVP balloting, winning his second Gold Glove and his second Silver Slugger. He stayed parked out in left field and batted fifth all season. On August 12th, he knocked in all four Pirates runs in a 4-3 11-inning win over the St. Louis Cardinals, with two two-run homers, including the game-ender in the bottom of the 11th. Pittsburgh again won the division title, finishing 14 games up on the Cardinals with a 98-64 record. They faced the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, ultimately losing in seven games. For his part, Bonds went four-for-27 with a double and one run scored.
1992 would see Bonds put together another spectacular all-around season, winning his third straight Gold Glove and third straight Silver Slugger. He also won his second NL MVP Award and another invite to the all-star contest. He hit .311 (NL seventh) over 140 contests with an NL leading 109 runs scored, 36 doubles (NL ninth), 34 home runs (NL second), and 103 RBI (NL fourth). He stole 39 bases (NL ninth) and walked an NL leading 127 times to only 69 strikeouts. He ranked second in the league with a 9.0 WAR. His .456 OBP, .624 SLG, and 1.080 OPS also led the senior circuit. His 310 putouts led the NL, his .992 fielding percentage ranked him second. He batted fourth and fifth through the season. On May 16th, he went deep twice for six RBI and added a stolen base in a 10-9 loss to San Diego. At 96-66, the Pirates finished nine games ahead of the Expos for the NL East title. They again faced the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, and again were eliminated in seven games. Bonds went six-for-23 with six walks, a double, a home run, and two RBI.
Granted free agency after the season, Bonds signed on with his father's site of greatest former glory, in San Francisco with the Giants, a team for whom he would play 16 seasons and win six more Gold Gloves, nine more Silver Sluggers, and five more NL MVP Awards. He retired (semi-unwillingly) after the 2007 season as the major league's all-time leader in several categories, including the single-season home run record (73) and 762 total round-trippers.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 1010 games, 984-for-3584, .275/.380/.503, 682 runs, 220 doubles, 36 triples, 176 home runs, 556 RBI, 251 stolen bases, 611 walks, 590 strikeouts, 48.6 wins above replacement.