The Barry Bonds Hall of Fame case has been a hot topic that’s divided baseball fans since before Bonds retired in 2007. That’s over a decade of debate over whether Bonds’ home run record is more important than Barry Bonds’ steroid use.
There seems to be no doubt that he’s one of the best MLB players of all time. However, given his steroid use and the assumption that his stats were inflated by that steroid use, there is a strong contingent of baseball purists that want to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
Thus far, that contingent is winning the argument. Bonds has been on the ballot since 2013, maxing out in 2021 at 61.8% of the vote. In 2022, Bonds will have his last chance to gain 75% of the vote for entrance into Cooperstown. That means it’s time to settle the debate once and for all, should Bonds be in the Hall of Fame or not?
Barry Bonds Hall of Fame case
The case to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame is rather simple. His career numbers say that he’s undoubtedly one of the greatest MLB players of all time. He finished with the all-time record of 762 home runs, not to mention 2,935 hits and 1,996 RBIs while posting a career OPS of 1.051. Plus, anyone who saw him play can surely attest that he was one of the most talented players of his generation. For most Hall of Fame voters, that should be enough.
Even if you consider that Bonds used PEDs, it’s not as if he was the only one. We know that he played in an era in which a majority of players were taking steroids or other substances, including the pitchers that Bonds was facing. Everyone around him seemed to be looking for an unfair advantage just as much as Bonds was, and he still managed to stand out from the pack. It was just more obvious that he was using steroids because he was on another level compared to the average player, just like a Hall of Famer should be.
There’s also an argument that steroids may have made Bonds the greatest power hitter of all time, but they didn’t make him a great hitter or a great player. He was a great hitter regardless of any PEDs he may have taken, as evidenced by hitting over .300 in a season 11 times and winning two batting titles.
Bonds was also a Gold Glove recipient eight times, which would have happened with or without steroids. Even if you take away the years that PEDs clearly influenced his power numbers, Bonds was a perennial all-star and a three-time MVP who was well on his way to Cooperstown.
Could Barry Bonds’ steroid use keep him out?
The argument against Bonds being in the Hall of Fame is understandable for baseball purists but ultimately flawed. By using steroids, Bonds cheated his peers and disgraced the game, putting himself over the sanctity of the game. Why should he get into the Hall of Fame and be honored side by side with players who didn’t have to cheat to succeed?
However, Bonds wouldn’t be the only player in the Hall of Fame who might have cheated or acted in a way that brings shame to him and the game of baseball.
While steroid use wasn’t in vogue until the latter part of the 20th century, there’s no way to guarantee earlier generations of players didn’t find ways to cheat. Why should Bonds be singled out and punished just because his transgressions are publicly known?
Ultimately, the Hall of Fame is supposed to honor the greatest players, not players who were perfect. There are no perfect players, but there are ones who left their mark on the game in a way that others didn’t, and those are the players who belong in the Hall of Fame.
There should be no doubt that Bonds is someone who left his mark on the game in an undeniable way. He’s been shamed for long enough by having to wait for so long, but it’s finally time to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame and make his story a permanent fixture in baseball history.