Could Barry Bonds be DH for the Giants in 2020?
Would there be any reason for 55-year-old retired San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds to come out of retirement for the 2020 season?
Yes, you read that right, but don’t laugh too hard at the thought just yet. F.P. Santangelo, Jr. first tossed around the idea of bringing Bonds back on Twitter, and the community found little downside to the idea.
The Home Run King is currently 55 years old. Up there in age? Yes. Would he be the oldest player ever? No, that honor goes to Satchel Paige, who pitched for the Kansas City Athletics at the age of 59.
The former slugger has not played an MLB baseball game since Sept. 26, 2007. He had a rough split from the Giants franchise and officially retired November of that year. However, he has previously indicated he wanted to end his career on a better note than what he did.
And then look at his current situation in Hall of Fame voting: though the view on his entanglement in the steroid issues has softened over the years and he has inched ever closer to being elected to the Hall of Fame, the clock is running out on his eligibility.
What would make for a better storyline than Bonds making a return at 55 years old and being a productive bat for a team? Oh, and then that would also reset the clock on his eligibility as well. These are all positives for the seven-time MVP.
2020 may be the year to make it happen.
With MLB and the players union agreeing on a 60-game season and implementing a universal designated hitter, that opens the door to an older slugger like Bonds to make a return.
And there is no downside to a team taking the risk on Bonds. At the worst, the team he signs with does not get their value in his hitting but from him as a player-coach.
What could we expect from him though?
Well, definitely not the power numbers he once had. Through his career, Bonds hit roughly one home run for every 13 at-bats. In a 60-game season that would translate to about 15 home runs if he was in every starting lineup. Having a 55-year-old slugger play every day, even as the DH, and getting those numbers would be a stretch.
But look back at Satchel Page for an example: his one game at the age of 58 in 1965 was a three-inning start in which he gave up one hit and no walks. Not jump-off the sheet numbers, but they were good and got the job done.
Bonds still hit .270 with 26 home runs and 77 RBI at the age of 41, and .276 with 28 dingers and 66 RBI at 42. Even when he was already “old,” he was still productive. So rather than think of Bonds as a 40-home-run slugger in 2020, he could be seen as an experienced RBI hitter with a great eye and quick bat who is a power threat.
Add to that his insane walk rate of 20 percent — most of which came via intentional walks — then we have ourselves an interesting case to make.
Would teams pitch around him as they did in the early 2000s? Of course not. But if Bonds proved he could still drive the ball and have it find grass, it would force every manager, catcher and pitcher to think about what Bonds may have in the tank every time he stepped up to the plate.
Bonds would not need to be the 70 HR power threat, but just be the great-eye and quick-bat threat that drives in runs like he did throughout his career.
In what will be a 60-game sprint to the finish where anything can happen this MLB season, experience and consistency will be huge.
So what would the harm be in having one of the greatest hitters of all time available as a DH or to come off the bench in a limited role?