Bryce Harper is going to be the focal point of a lot of baseball conversations for years to come. Recently, he has been very outspoken about how “tired” baseball is these days and he wants to see a change. Now it’s time for someone else to comment on Harper. That someone is the home run king, Barry Bonds.
Bonds, who recently spoke with Bill Ladson of MLB.Com, had the following to say about Harper and the recent comparisons to the two,
“He’s a beast. But he doesn’t compare to me, yet. He has a long way to go in order to be able to be compared to me. He is not even close to me,” Bonds said.
Now that might seem a bit arrogant, but he is the home run king and all–time leader in walks, after all. He did go on to give high praise to Harper,
“But he is one hell of a ballplayer. I watch him, I admire him and I look at him in awe. You don’t see that often,” Bonds continued.
Obviously, we can’t compare the two careers, as Harper is only 23-years old and has just four years of MLB service under his belt. What we can do, however, is compare the two at this stage of both of their careers.
After comparing each of their first four seasons, Harper holds an edge over Bonds in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Through the first four years of his career, Harper had 97 home runs, 248 RBIs and a .298 average. Through the first four years of Bonds career, he had 79 home runs, 223 RBIs and an average of .256. Harper has already won the NL Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger Award, the NL MVP and has been an All-Star three times. Comparing that to Bonds at that stage of his career, Bonds wouldn’t win a major award or be an All-Star until 1990, his fifth year in the league. That year he won the NL MVP, a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger Award and became an All-Star for the first time.
Bonds went on to win eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, seven NL MVP Awards and was an All-Star 14 times. He finished his career with 762 home runs, 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBIs and 2,558 walks, including another MLB-record of 688 intentional walks.
Harper had nothing but praise for Bonds, who he said he grew up idolizing and someone he molded some aspects of his game after.
“He’s the greatest hitter on the planet,” Harper said. “The guy had 2,900 and something hits, 500-500 guy. There’s nobody better than that guy in this game, and that’s something I was able to watch when I was younger, and I try to take things from what he did with his approach, but he’s the greatest player I can think of from when I was growing up playing and watching,” Harper said of Bonds.
At the end of the day, Harper has miles to go to compare to the overall, historic career of Bonds. However, if Harper is able to keep these kinds of numbers and stay healthy throughout his career, he can at least challenge and be in the conversation to surpass Bonds in some categories.
One thing that Harper can do that Bond never did and that is win a World Series. If, and obviously it’s a big if, Harper can keep up his play and be in that conversation and add at least one World Series to that already impressive resume, he can propel himself past Bonds.
Whether Harper ever reaches the heights Bonds did is something that will be fun to watch over the course of Harper’s young career as he continues to make a name for himself and be one of the faces of baseball.
Nobody should be offended or taken aback by Bonds’ comments. In fact, this is a good thing. He didn’t disrespect Harper in anyway and even went on to compliment the way he plays the game. If anything, this is a good thing – maybe not for opposing pitchers facing Harper – but for the fact this could light a fire under Harper to continue to achieve greatness. Bonds is entitled to an opinion and it’s one that is valued around baseball, especially by those who grew up watching him, despite all the steroid allegations.
Harper and Bonds will see plenty of each other this season as the Nats and Marlins share the NL East and will faceoff many times. Over the weekend, Harper went 3-6 with a solo home run, two RBIs, three runs scored, three walks and a double against Bonds’ Marlins. He is batting .300 with two home runs, three RBIs, four runs scored, five walks and even more impressive, zero strikeouts in the early goings of the 2016 season. This has helped the Nats jump out to a 3-1 start.