Barry Bonds last played in a Major League Baseball game with the San Francisco Giants on September 26, 2007. At an age when most players are well past their prime, Bonds was still a force to be reckoned with at the plate, even if he was not at the unreal heights he set from 2001-2004. Bonds' .428 weighted on base average (wOBA) in 2007 tied for 6th in the majors with Matt Holliday among players with at least 450 plate appearances. His weighted runs created plus (wRC+), adjusted for the spacious confines of AT&T Park, was 6th in the majors at 157. For almost anyone, a line of .276/.480/.565 with 28 home runs, 132 walks, and only 54 strikeouts would be a career year. For Bonds, it was somehow his last. At age 42, Bonds was unwanted despite putting up an OPS over 1.000 for the 15th time in his career.
Now at age 50 and retired for 7 seasons, Bonds still finds himself on the outside looking in to the Hall of Fame. Despite holding the league's all-time home run crown at 762 dingers and retiring as one of the greatest position players in the entire game's fabled history, he's unable to garner enough votes to make a dent due to his well known history with performance enhancing drugs. Fair or unfair as that may be to Mr. Bonds, it is irrelevant to this piece. Looking ahead, Bonds' chances of getting into the Hall may be compromised by the sheer number of quality players set to be added to the ballot in the coming years. While Bonds' credentials trump a grand majority of the players who'll be eligible, if he hasn't gotten the votes on less stacked ballots, it seems unlikely that he'll suddenly get more votes in the future.
So here's an idea for Mr. Bonds to consider, should he want to show voters that he's worthy of the Hall: make a comeback attempt. Now you're probably saying "he's 50 years old, how is Barry Bonds going to make a comeback at 50 and who would even want him?" That's where our New York Mets come into play.
At the plate, Barry Bonds is a perfect model of Sandy Alderson's hitting philosophy. He has great knowledge of the strike zone, he's disciplined at the plate, and he's willing to take a walk but when he gets his pitch in the zone, he's going to take advantage of it and hit it a long way. He's one of those rare players who hits for power but barely strikes out, a great combo that you really don't find in the game these days. Even Giancarlo Stanton, a fantastic hitter in his own right and currently the game's best power hitter, strikes out at dangerously high rates. Just how great Stanton would be if he cut his career strikeout rate by 16%. That's Barry Bonds.
It goes without saying that Bonds would likely not be the same player he was even in 2007. Seven seasons away from the game is a long time and at age 50, his skills have probably deteriorated to some degree. But for a guy with such a great eye and such huge power, is it inconceivable that Bonds could put up say a .350 on base percentage and 20 home runs even in a somewhat limited role? While I don't know if or not that's the case, a team like the Mets wouldn't have a whole lot to lose by giving it a shot. In need of a corner outfielder, the Mets appear cash poor and are seemingly unwilling to trade from their best asset, a strong crop of young pitching. They like power and on base percentage and are in desperate need of both in the outfield.
This is where a signing of Bonds comes in. For the Mets, they get a bat for left field with power who could add a lot to the middle of their lineup without having to trade young players. They also have capable bench outfielders in Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker who can sub in for defense late in games and give Bonds occasional days off. For Bonds, he comes out of retirement looking for redemption while trying to help Hall of Fame voters see just how great he was and still is, despite his PED past. If we assume that Bonds isn't getting into the Hall of Fame anyway, he really has little to lose other than his free time.
Okay, so this argument is probably pretty crazy and I'll admit it's mostly tongue-in-cheek on my part, an idea I thought up after seeing that Barry joined Twitter earlier this month. There's no way Barry Bonds would come out of retirement at age 50 and play for the Mets, of all teams. Even if he did, it'd probably be rough watching him roam left field at Citi Field and who knows how well he'd realistically hit. Mostly, I just miss watching Barry hit dingers a long, long way like this:
Really, who wouldn't want to see more of that? The more long home runs in baseball, the better. Come back, Barry! You can even use your Google Glass on the field! (maybe).