From Jeff Young:
Barry Bonds was one of the most imposing players of I have ever seen. He dared pitchers to throw inside as he stood on top of the plate. It helped that he had 20 pounds of armor protecting him in case a pitcher actually did throw inside and accidentally hit him.
Despite standing on top of the plate, he proved over and over again that he could turn on any inside fastball. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask Eric Gagne‘s 100 MPH fastball.
However, standing on top of the plate was not what I remembered most. It was how he handled himself while in the batter’s box. In today’s game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is tinkering with ways to improve the pace of baseball. He would have loved watching Barry Bonds hit.
When Bonds hit. He never left the batter’s box. He never stepped out to get the sign from the third base coach. I assume every signed he had ever received was to hit the ball as far as you could. He never stepped out to follow a ritual, or do anything else.
As soon as one pitch was thrown, he was ready for the next pitch. It was as if he was saying to the pitcher, “Can you pick up the pace here?” Not only was he daring the pitcher to throw inside, but he conveyed that he was ready for whatever offering the pitcher was getting ready to throw. It felt like it was an unintentional, non-verbal way of taunting the pitcher.
This stands out because you just do not see players handle themselves in that way. He was always ready for the next pitcher. And, whatever that pitch was, it was never good enough. He rarely tried to show up the pitcher with bat flips or taunting.
However, his demeanor and presence in the batter’s box was intimidating. And, that presence remained ready to hit until the at-bat was over. And, normally that at-bat ended in a home run.