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Barry Bonds - Big League Numbers, Big League Attitude

runs home pirates season

In 1985, Bonds was offered a professional contract that suited him, and he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates as the sixth pick in the first round. He spent his first season in the minor leagues, batting .299, hitting thirteen home runs and being named July's league player of the month for the Prince William (Virginia) Pirates in the Carolina League. After batting .311 in just forty-four games the following season, where he played in Hawaii, Bonds was called up to the majors at the age of twenty-one. Before long, he became the Pirates' starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter. He hit a double his second day with the team and nailed his first home run less than a week later. Bonds finished the season leading the National League's (NL) rookies in home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, and walks.

Bonds continued to shine the following year, when he was moved to left field and fifth in the batting order, finishing the season with a .261 batting average, twenty-five home runs and thirty-two stolen bases. The next year he battled a knee injury, but still raised his batting average to .283 and hit twenty-four home runs. He came back with a vengeance in 1990, earning the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) title during a season in which he hit thirty-three home runs, 114 runs batted in (RBI), and stole fifty-two bases. He was awarded the first of eight Gold Glove awards this year as well, and became the only player in the history of the major leagues to bat .300 (his average was .301), hit over 30 home runs, drive in 100 runs, score 100 runs (he scored 104) and steal 50 bases. These amazing feats helped the Pirates claim the National League East division championship that year. In 1991 Bonds batted .292 with twenty-five home runs and 116 RBIs. He finished second to the Atlanta Braves' Terry Pendleton for the league MVP award and the Pirates lost the league championship series to the Braves. Bonds boasted stellar numbers again in 1992 and was named league MVP for the second time, but his team again lost the league championship to the Braves.

The self-indulgent, sometimes downright disrespectful, demeanor Bonds had begun to exhibit at ASU only became more visible as Bonds recognized his overall importance to the Pirates organization. He asked for salary arbitration after winning his first MVP award, but was turned down. The following year, he engaged in a heated, and well-publicized altercation with coach Bill Virdon and Pirates manager Jim Leyland at spring training. It was also reported that, during a Goodwill tour of Japan, he quit an exhibition game early and insulted his hosts by tossing aside a token gift during a post-game ceremony.

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