Until recently there could be no serious debate about perhaps the most important question in all of baseball: who is the best player of all-time? You may hear a 'Ted Williams' out of Boston, but the near unanimous answer has been Babe Ruth for decades; until now.
Ruth won a Survivor-like contest done by the SABR in 2002, edging Honus Wagner in the final, unanimously. However, in 2002, we had yet to see all that Barry Bonds had to offer.
Between 2001 and 2004 Bonds won 4 consecutive MVP awards, 2 batting crowns, and was a home-run king; not to mention he broke the single-season records for home runs, OBP, SLG, and BB. Over that period he blasted 209 long balls, matching Ruth's total between '27 and '30, the best stretch of his career. Bonds' OBP over that period was better than Ruth's best season (.556 vs .545), and he slugged .809, which Ruth only surpassed in two single seasons. '01 - '04 was the single most dominant run of sustained success in the history of the game.
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Normalized Statistics (age 21 - 39)
Name AVG OBP SLG
Bonds .312 .436 .664
Ruth .299 .432 .599
Ruth's career, translated forward to begin in 1984, would've finished with a .274 EqA, or roughly the same as Tino Martinez and Raul Mondesi. By this standard, run by Baseball Prospectus, Bonds makes Ruth look like a marginal major leaguer. However, Ruth's estimated career totals if his career started in 1984 have him with 913 HR, 2,092 RBI, and just 14 shy of 2,000 Runs scored, slugging a mammoth .682. On the flip-side, Barry Bonds' estimated career totals had he began in 1916 give him 444 HR, 1,751 RBI, and 2,029 Runs, slugging .612.
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Name PA EqA EqR BRAR
Ruth 10,617 .364 2,307 1,577
Bonds 11,636 .354 2,447 1,636
Most of the information and statistics above were taken from Baseball Between the Numbers, the Batting Practice portion written by Nate Silver.
So, from a statistical standpoint, who is the best ballplayer of all-time? Ruth? Bonds? Someone else? Support your answer.