In Florida, Sheffield's batting line slipped to .294/.361/.476, his fielding percentage to .899 (the only time it's acceptable to cite fielding percentage is when it reaches the Hobson Line). Nonetheless, the Marlins wanted to keep him around, signing the 24-year-old to a four-year, $ million deal that made him the game's 10th-highest-paid player overall and its highest-paid third baseman. As a concession to keeping him at the hot corner, the team wrote a clause into his contract allowing him to play pickup basketball (obviously, Aaron Boone didn't take note).
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.