Alex Dickerson has been a revelation. In his first six games with the Giants, he’s 9-for-21 with six extra base hits and he’s knocked in 10 runs. His slash line in a Giants uniform is absolutely gaudy. Through his first 24 plate appearances, Dickerson is hitting .424/.500/.857. That’s an OPS of 1.357. His Giants career has began as well as it possibly could have. Obviously, he’s not going to keep this up. An extremely optimistic hope would be that he hits like Christian Yelich for the rest of the year and Yelich is leading baseball with a 1.159 OPS. Nobody puts up an OPS of 1.350 over a full season. Well, nobody except Barry Bonds.
There were three seasons that Bonds out-OPS’d Dickerson. 2001, 2002, and 2004. In 2004, Barry Bonds slashed .362/.609/.812 setting the major league, single-season record for OPS at 1.422. That shouldn’t be possible over an entire year. Before you comment or tweet at me saying, “You know why, right?” Yes. I know. I also don’t care. Plenty of other players have taken steroids or benefited from other advantages, and the only other qualified hitter to come within 100 points of that is 1920 Babe Ruth. The stiffest competition Ruth faced threw 88 mph fastballs.
Best Seasons by OPS
Bonds’s 2004 is such an outlier that it’s nigh impossible number to fathom even if you watched every game of the 2004 season. It’s like trying to comprehend the size of the sun. Maybe you know that 1.3 million earths can fit inside the sun, but does that actually mean anything to you? Try to visualize 1.3 earths. You can’t! It’s too big.
Now try to visualize what a 1.422 OPS season looks like. You can’t! It’s too big.
There’s no greater indication that Bonds’s 1.422 OPS was a glitch in the matrix than this fun fact that Sam Miller of ESPN likes to point out:
Bonds first-half OPS in 2004: 1.421
Bonds second-half OPS in 2004: 1.421
Bonds overall OPS in 2004: 1.422
It shouldn’t be mathematically possible to have a higher season OPS than in either of your halves, but it also shouldn’t be possible to have an OPS of 1.422 to begin with. Even Dickerson who has been an unstoppable killing machine for six days has come just shy of doing what Bonds did for 162. To put another way, Bonds in 2004 was essentially 27 weeks of Dickerson. That’s a lot of, well, you know.
Bonds’s home run records could eventually be broken. With as lively as the ball has been, it’s not hard to imagine Christian Yelich or Cody Bellinger or whomever putting together a 74-homer season. But even Bonds “only” put up a 1.379 OPS in his record homer year. There’s no way anyone is breaking 1.422 (partially because no one else is ever going to get the Bonds treatment. Teams are too smart to intentionally walk a guy 120 times again).
I don’t know what’s more impressive: that Alex Dickerson has been Barry Bonds for a week or that Barry Bonds was Alex Dickerson for a season. I don’t know how much longer Dickerson can keep this up, but it sure has been fun.