Bonds falls short in final year on HOF ballot

January 26th, 2022

In his final year on the ballot, former Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted to elect only one candidate, Red Sox DH David Ortiz, into the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Balloting was revealed on MLB Network on Tuesday night. Bonds was the lone former Pirate on the BBWAA’s ballot this year.

To be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, candidates must be selected on 75 percent of ballots cast by selected BBWAA members who have 10 or more consecutive years of MLB coverage. Voters can select up to 10 candidates. Players named on at least 5 percent of the ballots each year remain eligible for a maximum of 10 years.

Bonds earned 66 percent of the vote -- his highest percentage since he qualified for enshrinement in 2013 -- while needing 35 more ballots of the 394 submitted to reach the necessary percentage. He placed second in balloting behind Ortiz, who appeared on 77.9 percent of the ballots.

Statistically, Bonds’ case for the Hall of Fame was indisputable. He is the all-time leader in career home runs (762), home runs in a single season (73 in 2001), walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688). He won seven NL MVP Awards and 12 Silver Sluggers. Bonds’ 162.7 bWAR is the fourth-highest mark in the history of the sport and the best by any player after 1935.

The large part of that historical run came with the Giants from 1993-2007, but Bonds’ legendary career began with the Pirates, who selected him out of Arizona State with the sixth overall pick in the 1985 MLB Draft. After making the Major League team the next season, debuting on April 20 with the first of his 2,935 career hits, Bonds went on to win his first two MVP Awards and All-Star Game selections in Pittsburgh, where he had a 147 OPS+ in 1,010 games.

Though fans largely remember his spectacular home run ability, Bonds was also an exceptional left fielder. His ability to play the corner outfield diminished later in his career, but with the Bucs, he had a 11.2 defensive bWAR to help him win three of his eight Gold Glove Awards.

However, Bonds -- and Roger Clemens (65.2 percent), also in his final year -- was held back due in large part to his connections with performance-enhancing drugs. Per the BBWAA’s website, consideration shall be based not only on statistics and playing ability, but “integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Though Bonds fell out of contention for election through balloting, there are committees down the road that could enshrine him at a later date. It’s a possibility that he could be considered again at the end of 2022 on the Today’s Game Committee ballot.

Bonds was not the only former Pirate who was up for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Longtime manager Danny Murtaugh, who led Pittsburgh to 1,115 wins and two World Series titles from 1957-76 after a nine-year career as a Major League player, fell short of enshrinement on the Golden Days Committee’s ballot.