If all goes like it has been this season, Barry Bonds should win his 6th MVP award. No other baseball player has won more than 3. This is not to say that other players probably didn’t deserve more than 3 (Ted Williams comes to mind), but for years there seems to have been some barrier where as there was reluctance to give someone the award too many times. Maybe it was just a fluke, but I think there was something more to it.
Prior to Barry Bond’s incredible 2001 season, he had won the award 3x already. To break the unspoken tradition of being limited to 3 MVP awards, you’d have to do something incredible. Barry Bonds sort of forced the issue by having, arguably, two of the best offensive seasons in baseball history in 2001 and 2002. His OPS (On-base % plus Slugging %) were 1.3785 and 1.3807 in 2001 and 2002. To give you an idea of how good that was, not only were they the 1st and 3rd best OPS seasons in history, only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams ever hit above 1.245 in a single season. Of the two components of OPS, he set the single season slugging record in 2001 (.8635) and the single season on-base percentage in 2002 (.5817), demolishing the former record set by Ted Williams in his amazing 1941 season when he hit .406.
So, Barry Bonds is a stud. I think that’s an established fact. He’s won 5 MVP awards (and should have won another one in 1991 when freaking Terry Pendelton won).
This season he is continuing his studly ways leading the major leagues in OPS again. His OPS is currently at 1.249, on-base percentage is at .515, and he’s slugging .734. Assuming everything stays the same till the end of the year, he’ll have a season which ranks in the top 15 in all the categories listed, he’ll pass Willie Mays for 3rd place on the all-time home run list, and will probably pass Babe Ruth for 2nd all-time in base on balls (trailing the guy who really should retire, Rickey Henderson).
The next closest player to Bonds is Albert Pujols, who by all measures is having a very good season. (OPS: 1.112, OBP: .437, SLG:.674) But, he’s not having as good a season as Bond. Nonetheless, I think there is a good chance he’ll win the MVP. Why?
- Bonds will ultimately be compared to his last two seasons. The fact that this season is also one of the best in baseball history wont really matter becasue they’ll be comparing it to what he did last year.
- Albert Pujols is up and comming. Bonds is old and will have tons of attention over the next two years as he breaks the all-time home run record.
- Bonds has won 5 times. Lets share the wealth.
I hope I’m wrong, but I think that’s how its going to go down.
The other big Barry Bonds question is whether he is the greatest player ever. The fact that the question can even be asked is significant in itself. Bill James had placed Bonds just outside of the top 10 in 2000. Before he had his monster seasons in 2001 and 2002. I think it may already be safe to say that the debate for who is the greatest hitter of all time (formerly between Ruth and Williams) will now include Bonds.