Back in 1990, Barry Bonds entered the season at the age of 25. He'd been viewed as enough of a disappointment -- and difficult personality -- through his first three full seasons that the Pittsburgh Pirates had offered him around that winter, in search of a frontline starting pitcher.

There were no takers. Bonds broke out that year, raising his average from .248 to .301, his home runs from 19 to 33, his stolen bases from 32 to 52. He led the National League in slugging percentage and OPS and collected 23 of 24 first-place votes in the MVP balloting. He'd become the best player in baseball.

Twenty-two years later, another Pirates outfielder entered the season at 25 years old. Andrew McCutchen had hit .216 in the second half of 2011, a disappointing figuring considering he'd hit .291 with 14 home runs in the first half. McCutchen wasn't offered around in trade; in fact, the Pirates instead signed him to a six-year, $51 million contract extension in spring training.

And like Bonds, McCutchen has taken The Leap. He's having a season for the ages, hitting .369/.423/.649 and leading the National League in batting average, slugging percentage, total bases and runs scored while ranking second in home runs and RBIs. He may be the best player in baseball.

Is that too much, comparing McCutchen to one of the greatest player of all time?

It's interesting to look back at Bonds. He actually was one of the NL's best players from 1987 to 1989, not that anybody recognized it at the time, with a Baseball-Reference WAR of 19.2, second among NL position players behind only Ozzie Smith. Despite that, Bonds had never been mentioned on an MVP ballot, his defensive skills not appreciated and his offensive skills underrated because of a .264 average and RBI totals held down because he mostly hit leadoff.