In fact, in his walk year, he slashed .276/.480/.565 with a 1.045 OPS in 477 plate appearances as a 42-year-old.
Read that again: he got on base almost half of the time (!) at the tender age of 42.
Granted, there are steroid allegations surrounding his name, the same that have kept him out of the Hall of Fame so far.
However, Bonds had an incredible talent to hit the baseball, with or without steroids, and no one in recent memory had a similar ability to draw walks and instill fear in opposing pitchers.
Stats say he aged like wine: Bonds had, by far, the most home runs after turning 34 years old, according to Codify.
Most homers after 34th birthday:
Barry Bonds, 368
Hank Aaron, 274
Nelson Cruz, 267
Rafael Palmeiro, 255
Babe Ruth, 244
David Ortiz, 224
Andres Galarraga, 222
Carlton Fisk, 207
Darrell Evans, 204
Willie Mays, 199
Ted Williams, 197
Mark McGwire, 196
Jim Thome, 193
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) February 18, 2022
That’s some fine company, but of course, that’s only one category: power.
Let’s see what he did before and after turning 34.
An Ageless Wonder
Before his 34th birthday, Bonds hit .290/.411/.556 with a .966 OPS, which is stellar.
However, after turning 34, he slashed .316/.505/.712 with an otherwordly 1.217 OPS.
From 1999 to 2007, the year he retired, he took 1,201 walks and only struck out 489 times.
His power was legendary, but what really made him special as a hitter is his ability to differentiate balls from strikes.
Striking out Bonds, especially in the second half of his career, was quite an accomplishment for a pitcher.
Whether or not steroids had an influence on his power is another topic, one for another day.
Having a graceful “decline” is more than just taking some substances, though: it involves genetics, dedication, training, diet, and rest, among lots of other things.
No one in the history of the game had a better “decline” (he was actually better in his later years than when he was younger, which is a rarity) than Bonds.