As noted yesterday, JC Bradbury at Sabernomics.com had done a wonderful job correcting some of the stories that have been told about Barry Bonds. Yesterday he offered a short post that simply congratulated Barry Bonds (which included video of the at-bat). This post elicited a number of comments, two of which I found especially interesting.
The first is from Sal Paradise:
Barry Bonds (21-34 seasons): 1 HR/19.1 PA
Barry Bonds (35-42 seasons): 1 HR/12.8 PA
Hank Aaron (21-34 seasons): 1 HR/19.4 PA
Hank Aaron (35-42 seasons): 1 HR/16.5 PA
Bonds was better before 35, and better after 35. But both players improved as they grew older.
Barry Bonds starts off slow, catches up and passes Aaron in his prime, Aaron catches back up in the early 30’s, they stay close ’til mid 30’s when Bonds takes a huge improvement, while Aaron only offers a marginal one. Bonds starts getting worse immediately, while Aaron stays more or less level.
Bear in mind that I cut off the data at the 40-42 season, and that Aaron had a head start of a year which I didn’t include.
Save for the ONE year where he had a massive surge in his offense production, Bonds’ aging curve is actually worse than Aaron’s in many ways (as far as the ability to hit home runs is concerned). Bear in mind that Hank Aaron hit his highest HR total at 37 — what Bonds did is far from unprecedented.
People have argued that the surge in home run production we see from Bonds as he aged could only have been achieved via steroids. Apparently, though, Aaron also saw his home run output surge in the latter years of his career.
JC Bradbury also offered a comment on the argument that Bonds clearly took steroids because he looks much bigger today.
The interesting thing is the changes in hat and shoe sizes that the media widely report are rumours based on “anonymous sources.” This has never been confirmed, and please don’t show me a picture of the 1986 Bonds compared to today. We all looked at leaner than when we were 21. Bonds began bulking up well before he faced any steroid suspicions. Most players do. The reason I mention this is that the guy who makes Barry Bonds’ arm brace mentioned something quite interesting to Will Carroll the other day. His precise calliper measurements he does to make Bonds’ brace haven’t changed since 1992. That’s not rumour or hearsay. That’s an on-the-record comment from the doctor who makes Barry’s brace. Silva states that because of the custom nature of the work, he’s been asked to make casts of Bonds each year. In the first couple of years, he went through the entire process, but due to his workload, he started checking Bonds with precision callipers each subsequent year. “If I made the same brace every year for 12 or more years,” Silva said, “it was because there was no size change in Barry’s arms.”
You read that correctly–the man who not only builds Bonds’ brace, but who has taken precision measurements of his arm since 1992, has not seen any increase in the size of Bonds’ arm. Point blank, Silva said “there’s been no significant change in the size of his arms.”
Even if his head and feet have grown, who cares! Anyone who has bothered to look at the scientific literature knows that HGH has no performance-enhancing effects. This is the consensus opinion of the exercise physiology profession. Barry is just an idiot for taking the stuff. This isn’t a shot at you, Jason. It’s a shot at the media which has failed to report this important fact.
It is unfortunate that more members of the media fail to note the observations offered by Bradbury and his readers.
By the way, this comment on Bonds is not the post for today. I will offer a post later today – on the subject of Pistol Pete Maravich — that will consist almost entirely of my own thoughts and ideas.