Baseball writer explains controversial Barry Bonds Hall of Fame vote
The Barry Bonds Hall of Fame debate will always be a divisive one, and one baseball writer decided to light the match again this week.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network, one of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the 2022 MLB Hall of Fame class, revealed his ballot this week. Most notably, Heyman cast his vote for Bonds, whose Hall of Fame argument has notoriously been tainted by his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Heyman also voted for Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Scott Rolen, and Curt Schilling while choosing to leave his other five votes blank. He did not vote for Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, or any other player on the ballot linked to PED use.
Sent my Hall of Fame ballot today (Will provide explanations later. Many close calls.) pic.twitter.com/Fz5uGxLG1A
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2021
Heyman explained his vote for Bonds on Saturday.
“I have resisted supporting all steroid-linked/improved players as I question the authenticity of their achievements but have made Bonds the 1 exception as the narrative that he didn’t use steroids until after at least 1998 is compelling,” he tweeted. “By then he had 3 MVPs and 7 top-5 finishes.”
If Heyman’s personal cutoff is 1998, Bonds had indeed already put together a fairly elite career to that point. In addition to the accolades that Heyman mentioned, Bonds hit .290 with 410 home runs over that span. He had also racked up eight All-Star appearances, eight Gold Glove Awards, and seven Silver Slugger Awards.
But it is still difficult to cherry-pick certain seasons where a player may not have been using PEDs as the same case could logically be made for players like Rodriguez, Ramirez, etc. Thus, it is better to look at a player’s entire body of work, which for Bonds is inextricably tied to PED use.
Bonds is in his final year of Hall of Fame eligibility and has never received more than 61.8 percent of the vote (players need at least 75 percent to make the cut). The all-time home run king (technically) has his fair share of Hall of Fame supporters. But despite the reasoning of Heyman and others, Bonds still seems like a longshot to be enshrined in his last crack at Cooperstown.
Photo: Jul 8, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants former outfielder Barry Bonds looks on prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports