ARLINGTON, Va. (CBSDC) – Nationals manager Matt Williams was recently asked to comment on whether his former teammate, Barry Bonds, belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Williams, who played four seasons with Bonds (from 1993-96) in San Francisco, was certain to separate his feelings for Bonds, the person, from his feelings for Bonds, the player (both of which, he was glowing), when answering the question.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen in my life, without question,” Williams said, speaking at 106.7 The Fan’s Chalk Talk on Monday. “And I was the fortunate guy that got to hit behind him for all those year, and clean up all the mess. When they would walk him, ‘Who are we gonna pitch to? Bonds or Williams?'”
“He had a tough time with the media from time to time,” he said. “I heard him referred to as ‘surly’ and that type of stuff. It’s hard when people want a quote, or somebody’s got to write a story, and he doesn’t want to give it to them, or whatever.
“For me, he was a good teammate, good friend, good to my family, good to my kids, so I have no issues.”
Williams seemed split on the notion of Bonds — long regarded as the face of Major League Baseball’s steroid era — being considered for the Hall of Fame, though.
“Regarding the Hall of Fame, there’s no way in this day and age that I think that he would even be considered,” he said.
“Does he belong? Well, he’s the best player I ever saw,” Williams said. “So if I was to say that, if I was to say that judging the play and what I saw, he’s the best player I ever saw. So does that warrant consideration? Yea, in that regard, yea. But in today’s world, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”
The conversation for Bonds’ HOF eligibility is a sticky wicket. Just ask any baseball fan, young or old, and try get anything but an impassioned, well-formed response.
Bonds himself has said “without a doubt” he belongs in the Hall. Numbers-wise, he’s correct. He’s the best player anyone watching baseball in the last 50 years has ever seen, and it’s not even close.
Some of his credentials: 7 MVPs, 14-time All-Star selections, .298/.444/.607 slash line, 2,935 hits, 762 home runs and 1,996 RBI. If you prefer advanced metrics, Mike Axisa does a better job of illustrating how much better Bonds was than current members enshrined in Cooperstown, even before he ever left Pittsburgh following the 1992 season.
But there’s that ever-looming cloud of suspicion with Bonds, and his alleged abuse of Performance Enhancing Drugs, which Williams appears to be of the mind will be impossible for his former Giants teammate to shake and gain entrance into the Hall of Fame.
Their biggest justification for keeping Bonds out of the Hall?
After testifying as part of the BALCO scandal in 2003, Bonds was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges for allegedly lying under other about his own PED use, and later convicted of the latter charge.
In two years of Hall of Fame eligibility, Bonds, who last played in 2007, has received 36.2% and 34.7% percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America’s votes, respectively. He needs 75% for admission. Essentially, he lost votes in 2014, which takes a Louisville slugger to the idea that voters will gain more sympathy for Bonds, with respect to HOF consideration, over time.
When it comes to that consideration, Williams, it seems, may be onto something.