Laughable Steroids Talk and Jose Bautista

I was ready to laugh at Damien Cox’s article on Bautista and steroids for the Toronto Globe and Mail today, but Drunk Jays Fans beat me to the punch.

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.

It happened more in the ’00s and ’90s, yes. There was Luis Gonzalez, Brady Anderson, Richard Hidalgo. None of them repeated their performance ever again.

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.

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3 Comments

Filed under MLB, MLB history

3 responses to “Laughable Steroids Talk and Jose Bautista

  1. Alex

    Dude…you keep talking about guys who hit 60..then averaged around 30…hit 4o…averaged 20s and 30’s…This guy goes from 15 for years to probably ending up with close to 50? Doesn’t take a mathematician to tell you that that’s not a mathematical outlier but a downright aberration! I keep seeing guys talk about his swing..hes got 10% more fly balls this year…this translates into a 330% increase in Home runs??? Sorry man..innocent until proven guilty of course, but I’m not drinking that koolaid…guys on something they can’t detect yet..only a matter of time before a few guys get on it too…if you start seeing a few “changes” in swing next year..wait for it.

    • that flyball/HR percentage increase would actually indicate luck being more of a factor, since no one who took steroids saw an increase that huge.

      Even so, if you want more examples, Big Klu went from 15 homers a year to 40 a year at 28. He topped out at 49 in his age 29 season and then never hit double digits after 33.

      There’s a big difference between unrealized potential turned real + obscene luck and steroids and Bautista right now is exactly in the middle of that discussion. It’s horribly unfair to implicate Bautista in any of this just because he’s having an amazing (and yet precedented) season.

  2. Louis

    A lot of people discussing this steroid issue with Jose Bautista are just plain naive.

    It doesn’t matter how many performance-enhancing drugs you take, it will not help you hit home runs. The people that took PEDs and became sluggers were already good hitters. Even if you have the muscle, you still need the hand-eye coordination, you still need the discipline, you still need the patience, you still have to know how to hit a curveball.

    Jose Bautista was never really a good hitter before 2010. That alone is strong evidence that it’s not steroids that have given him this sudden offensive surge. Steroids don’t increase brain cells, they increase muscle. Muscle does not hit home runs, brains and skill hit home runs; muscle just helps the home runs go further, and helps you get a few extra.

    Unfortunately most people don’t understand how difficult it is to hit a baseball travelling 95mph, so they just assume a couple shots of muscle-enhancers are going to help you accomplish that task. Totally naive and ignorant thinking.

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