Bonds hit a fairly typical .303/.438/.609 with 37 homers, 28 steals and 130 walks in 1998, but his performance was lost amid the McGwire-Sosa home run chase. The story that later emerged from reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams in their book Game of Shadows is that the attention accorded to those two sluggers motivated Bonds to take performance-enhancing drugs to keep up; after that season, he began training with Greg Anderson, a weightlifter and steroid dealer. Amid his intense training regimen, he tore a triceps tendon in his right elbow, costing him seven weeks of the 1999 season, but he still hit 34 homers in just 102 games. He set a career-high with 49 homers in 2000—second in the league, one short of Sosa's total—and hit .306/.440/.688, good for WAR (third in the league). Playing their first year in Pacific Bell Park, the Giants won the NL West but fell to the Mets in the Division Series. Bonds also lost out on the MVP award to Kent, who hit .334/.424/.596 with 34 homers and WAR but drove in 125 runs, 19 more than his teammate.
Stanton’s next few years are going to be interesting. This is his prime, and if he maintains anything close to this for the next few years, he may choose to opt out of his contract and hit free agency in 2020. (If he doesn’t, he’s still owed $295 million over the next 10 years.) But will he be a Marlin even that long? With new ownership coming in, Stanton and his massive contract could be traded to make room for a full rebuild; he’s also young enough that if new ownership is willing to spend, he’s the type of player they could build around.
For generations, pitchers used spitballs — not just spit, of course, but anything they could find — and scuffed baseballs to alter the way the ball moved to gain an advantage. That’s cheating. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry made a career out of affecting the flight of baseball, and even wrote a book about it (seriously, it’s called “ Me and the Spitter .”) And for decades, players used amphetamines to give themselves a little pep in their step on the field, or as a way to recover from rough nights. Amphetamines are a banned substance now.