The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Barry Bonds is a Sick Man

For those of you who are having a hard time comprehending the enormity of what Barry Bonds has been accomplishing over the past few years (particularly those of you who think that Scott Rolen deserves the National League's MVP Award so far this year), consider this: below is a list of the all-time top ten single season onbase percentage seasons for all of Major League Baseball, as the list stood coming into the 2004 campaign.

  1. Barry Bonds, 2002  .5817
  2. Ted Williams, 1941  .5528
  3. John McGraw, 1899  .5475
  4. Babe Ruth, 1923  .5445
  5. Babe Ruth, 1920  .5319
  6. Barry Bonds, 2003 .5291
  7. Ted Williams, 1957 .5256
  8. Billy Hamilton, 1894  .5228
  9. Babe Ruth, 1926  .5156
  10. Barry Bonds, 2001 .5151

Three names dominate this list - Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds.  Bonds' three seasons that make this top ten list all have occured consecutively.  Sure, many of you will say that this is just a list of high onbase percentage, and sluggers such as Ruth, Williams, and Bonds will normally, by default, have high onbase percentages because they will be walked frequently so their opponents do not have to risk letting them put the ball in play.  This is true.  However, onbase percentage is a key metric in determining a player and a team's ability to score runs.  Scoring runs - and outscoring your opponent - is what professional baseball is all about.

Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds put their teams in position to win as well as, or better than, any other players in the history of baseball.  It's as simple as that.  Sure, there are dozens of other numbers and statistics and quotes one could use to prove this out.  Many of you reading this probably have already done so.

What is interesting is that Mr. Bonds is gaining some public respect from his all-time great peers on a level that is normally reserved for those in the pantheon of Ruth.  Reggie Jackson has come out this week and said that Bonds is the greatest player in the history of the game.  His evidence for this that Bonds is the single great player on an average (at best) ball club (Jason Schmidt possibly excluded), but still, even though he is being walked at a more than record clip, he is able to carry the Giants into serious playoff contention - nearly on his own.

Are you wondering how Bonds 2004 season is stacking up so far in terms of onbase percentage?  Well, through last night's game, his OBP stands at .619Yes, that's right .619!  Barry Bonds has reached base in 61.9% of his plate appearances.  Should his percentage hold up at that rate for the rest of the season, his lead on the all-time 2nd place single season onbase percentage record (Bonds again at .582) would be an astonishing .037.  That's about the same margin between the all-time leader in the non-Bonds category and the 10th best onbase season of all-time.  In regular person terms, that's about the difference between having a .360 OBP lead-off man (certainly acceptable, but no great shakes) and a .400 OBP lead-off man (where you're talking about a potential all-star).  When you get up to such a high percentage as Bonds', it doesn't seem like a huge difference, but it is.

What Barry Bonds is doing right now is of historical proportions.  Enjoy it while you can.


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