Growing up a Giants fan, back in the Summer of Love, I was thrilled when we got Ron Hunt to play second. Since our '67 second baseman had been Tito Fuentes, I thought Hunt would be an improvement. And he was, sort of.
Bill James once wrote that Ron Hunt was as bad a baseball player as you could be for a guy who got on base a lot. Hunt's central skill--and some would say, his only skill--was getting on base. Actually, what he's known for more than anything is a subset of that skill, the ability to get hit by pitches. He was bad defensively, a bad baserunner, had no power, and couldn't throw. And in his three seasons as a Giant, '68-'70, he batted .250, .262, and .281. But his OBP those years were .371, .361, and .391. He got hit by 25 pitches a season regular as clockwork, until '71, his first year with Montreal, when he got hit 50 times. His three seasons with the Giants, he stole 6, 9 and 1 bases, with poor percentages. His OPS+ those years: 102, 99, 109. Considering that our shortstop was Hal Lanier, those numbers looked great. The most telling stat for me is runs scored: batting second or leadoff, with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Jim Ray Hart coming up after him, Ron Hunt scored 79, 72 and 70 runs. So how valuable was he? I'll say this; he was fun to watch, a scrappy, hustling, dirty-uniform player.
Isn't Brock Bond a player with essentially the same skill set? He has a .415 OBP in Fresno, but with a .385 Slg. I don't have HBP numbers for him, but like Hunt, his reputation is as a poor second baseman, and he's not a basestealer--5 SB, 4 CS. There are differences: Bond will turn 25 in September, while Hunt was in the majors at 22, albeit with the '63 Mets. Bond's a switchhitter--Hunt was a right handed hitter.
Bond doesn't make anyone's prospect lists, probably because scouts don't think much of his defense or overall athleticism. He does have one central skill, and it's the most important offensive skill a player can have. I do have a hard time imagining the FO seeing him as Freddie Sanchez' replacement. Still,, he does get on base. We could do worse. And it's nice to at least acknowledge uniqueness.