You should really read that DJF article, it’s fantastic.
Cox argues that we have to ask Jose Bautista about steroids. We have to question the legitmacy of his play. Cox is already trolling, that’s why the Globe and Mail pays him, but it does open up an interesting dialogue.
No, we don’t have to question any season where a guy goes on a tear of dingers. And we shouldn’t. Just like we shouldn’t be citing win-loss records anymore.
We’re in an age where literally any productive offensive season is met with questions of steroids use. Most who bring up that question have a very limited knowledge of baseball history and an even worse knowledge of swing mechanics. (Just to put it briefly: bad hitters are busted for steroids as much as good hitters. Steroids, if the intended use actually has the desired outcome, would help players maintain their swing through their aging. This is most likely why Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds had career years in their post-prime years.)
Throughout history, players have had outlier years. Sometimes they “figure it out,” sometimes they’re just lucky.
Roger Maris’ second-highest home run total, after his 61 in ’61, was 39. He had only three years where he hit more than 30. (Incidentally, he was riddled with injuries for the rest of his playing days after 1962. Imagine the steroid talk that would’ve popped up from that).
In 1977, George Foster hit 52 home runs. Despite being productive throughout his career, he only came within 20 home runs of that one other time in his career, in 1978 when he hit 40.
Players who only hit 40+ home runs once in their careers and never came within 10 home runs of that number again: In 1989, Kevin Mitchell hit 47 home runs. In 1961, Jim Gentile hit 46 home runs. In 1979, Dave Kingman hit 48 home runs. In 1930, Hack Wilson hit 56 home runs. In 1969, Rico Petrocelli hit 40 home runs.
A lot of guys had a very good season or two and never duplicated it ever again. Take a look for yourself.
Steroids is an old topic and we know pretty much that anybody pointing the steroids finger is just looking for a witch-hunt. It’s pointless. And some players have been implicated with the slightest of evidence. Even worse, some players have been implicated with things that weren’t steroids. We’ve gotten to a point where anything a player says or does is used against him as proof.
And you know what? That sucks.
Let’s play innocent until proven guilty and enjoy this awesome season Bautista is having.