I've imagined what Bonds' career would've looked like had he chosen not to cheat the game and himself. Everyone always says how he was a first ballot Hall of Famer even before steroids, HGH or whatever horse-bulking chemicals he was on. Which is a fact. Bonds was a great ball player way before he became jealous of McGwire & Sosa. He won 8 Gold Gloves and 3 MVP awards before his ego could no longer handle the idea of finishing a HOF career in the background. Fact was, Barry knew he was better than those guys getting all the attention for the HRs, but an ego as massive as his needs everyone to know it.
Ken Griffey Jr. was better than Barry Bonds from 1989 to 2000. Now the Number Lovers & Stat Boys of today will argue Bonds was the better player because of his on-base%, which I agree, Bonds was always more apt to take pitches and draw walks than Jr was. But getting on base does not make you a better ball player. All those walks never won Barry's teams any titles and never endeared him more to teammates, whom probably would've rather seen Bonds fail than their team win, sad to say (Have you ever heard a teammate come to his defense?). Safe to assume Pittsburgh Bonds was different than San Fran Bonds, attitude wise at the very least. But even then, early 90s Barry was still a hot dog, just not as flamboyant & selfish.
12 years into Ken Griffey Jr's career, from 1989 to 2000, he was a .295 hitter with 438 HRs, 1270 RBIs, 10 Gold Gloves, 173 SB and 1 MVP Award. 12 years into Barry Bonds' career, from 1986 to 1997, he was a .288 hitter with 374 HRs, 1094 RBIs, 8 Gold Gloves, 417 SB and 3 MVP Awards. By the numbers & by the eye test, Jr was the better ball player for those first 12 years. The next 10 years, however for both players cannot be discounted even if you negate Performance Enhancing Drugs from Bonds. While Barry clearly would not have attained 700 HRs, the unGodly Slugging percentages, batting statistics and additional MVP awards, you can't assume he would have broken down physically the way Griffey did. Therefore for their overall careers, even if it pains me to admit it, Barry Bonds was the better ball player. Griffey's physical breakdown was so apparent, you didn't even have to check his numbers to notice the decline. The Kid who wowed fans across the world in Seattle was a shell of his old self in Cincinnati. Guess what? That's what happens when you get older. Your physical skills decline naturally.
The Bottom Line is Barry Bonds took Performance Enhancing Drugs to go from being a top 30 All-Time player to a top 5 player. Aside from 1993, no one ever
viewed Barry Bonds as the best player in the game before the steroid years. I still hear baseball analysts talk about Bonds as if those final 10 years of his career were legit. Amazing how a lifetime .288 hitter can turn 35 years old, then in the next 5 seasons hit .306 with 49 HRs, .328 with 73 HRs, .370 with 46 HRs, .341 with 45 HRs and .362 with 45 HRs into his 40s. Bonds enhanced his skills with illegal substances that'd make average Joe's like you and I into respectable athletes. But when a great athlete like Bonds takes them, he goes from great to one of the greatest of all time.
Like I said before in a previous post http://uvmemory.blogspot.com/2013/01/gotta-love-kid.html if Griffey went dirty he'd have hit over 800 HRs, but Jr is not an ego maniac and he has integrity. And ask anyone in Baseball who they'd rather have as a teammate, Barry Bonds or Ken Griffey Jr. 9 out of 10 if not %100 will say Jr.
As far as I'm concerned Hank Aaron is still the All Time Home Run King and Roger Maris is still the single season leader. Bonds' numbers are meaningless. The Hall of Fame will document the 90s and 2000s accordingly and will put them in the proper historical perspective. Roger Clemens & Barry Bonds should have paper plaques in the Hall of Fame, rather than bronze.