Follow-Up to The Era of Drug Testing – Hitters vs. Pitchers

Posted: June 19, 2012 in Drug Testing, MLB
Tags: , , , , , , ,

While yesterday’s baseball post was supposed to be about the perfect game and multiple one-hitters that occurred this past week, it quickly morphed into one about steroids. Little did I know at the time, but Roger Clemens’ perjury trial would conclude just hours later with Clemens’ being acquitted on all charges that he obstructed justice and lied to Congress about using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Speaking big picture, this outcome only proved the prosecutors could not prove Clemens’ guilt of perjury, not necessarily that he did or did not do steroids – two completely different issues. After posting yesterday’s piece, there were several comments that noted I overlooked the fact batters were not the only ones who used PEDs, but pitchers did as well. I assume those who commented were implying that since pitchers also used PEDs, it created a ‘more-level playing field’. While I acknowledge yesterday’s omission about pitchers also using PEDs, the omission wasn’t because I believe pitchers never used them. I simply believe PEDs had a greater impact on hitting than it ever did pitching.

My first belief is any strength gains attributed to the use of PEDs were more beneficial to a hitter than they were a pitcher. If a hitter is stronger and is therefore able to hit the ball further, that is an important consequence in baseball. What may have once been a long-fly ball or a double in the gap could now become a homerun. On the flip side, if a pitcher becomes stronger and is able to throw harder, that is not always a good thing. I was recently listening to a Yankees game and the announcer was talking about a conversation he had with Derek Jeter. Jeter had said something to the effect of, “Ten years ago, it was easier. Everyone threw harder but it was straight. Now, nothing is straight.” His point being, back when many pitchers were on steroids, they simply tried to overpower hitters. But the harder pitchers threw, the less movement their pitches generally had. Also, ‘the harder one throws, the further it goes’. Simple physics. While the benefits of PEDs likely had an impact on pitcher’s ability to rebound quicker from start to start, once a pitcher was on the mound, the benefits were not as dramatic as they were for hitters. Simply throwing harder does not necessarily equate to success. Simply hitting the ball further does.

My second belief is the newfound power of the Steroid Era made many pitchers afraid to throw strikes. Even if pitchers were on steroids, if they dared throw it down the middle, many juiced up hitters were going to launch it into the cheap seats. This caused pitchers to nibble around the strike zone, walk more batters, and in consequence create more run-scoring opportunities. You want to know what the REAL Moneyball philosophy was – Steroids. How many of the Moneyball Oakland A’s players ended up being connected to steroids? Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada both won MVP’s for the A’s – both have been linked to steroids. Simply look at this link to see how many other prominent A’s were linked to PEDs – never mind the amount that likely got away with it. Hey Billy Beane, of course your team drew a lot of walks and created run-scoring opportunities, much of your team was (allegedly) using PEDs! (Yes, yes. I realize every other team had PED users as well, and much of the A’s success was due to cheap, elite, young pitching and not necessarily hitting. But I was just trying to make a point… just as the book was). Now a days, pitchers can be much more aggressive and throw the ball over the plate knowing that only a select amount of hitters are going to knock it out of the park on a consistent basis. Ten years ago, even the once light-hitting 2nd basemen could hit the ball 400+ feet on a regular basis. Times have changed.

Again, I fully acknowledge pitchers were using PEDs as well as hitters – I simply believe hitters saw greater benefits between the lines because of them. It is much more difficult to recover on a day to day basis while maintaining your strength and energy when you are playing 160 games a year as compared to making 30 starts with a minimum of four days of rest in between. Barry Bonds’ alleged PED usage allowed him to feverously work out during the season, maintain the 40 pounds of muscle he put on after the age of 35, and perform at the highest level in the history of baseball – all during a period of his career in which he should have been in a sharp decline. I realize the same argument could be made about the latter part of Clemens’ career. The only difference is, Clemons didn’t pitch better than anyone ever had in the history of baseball – as Bonds did at the plate – further providing support for my belief PEDs enhanced batters at a greater rate than it did pitchers. That’s that.

*Don’t forget to send questions, thoughts, concerns, and/or rants to TheBatteredFan@gmail.com for this Friday’s weekly mailbag*

Comments
  1. quinersdiner says:

    You make your case well.

  2. Gronkfan05 says:

    Thank you for the re-post, I am glad that you agree that pitchers gained an advantage as well. I just did a little research on John Rocker and it’s astounding how much his steroid use improved his ERA while with Atlanta. But due to his prolonged use of PEDs you can see how he quickly deteriorated like lindsay Logan’s acting career, also much like Barry Bonds final playing years.

    On another note, we deem many other PEDs in our life as acceptable like coffee, Viagra, rogaine, and 5 hour energy. Is it wrong for the public and the professional sports administrators to outlaw PED use in professional sports? And suspend players without out pay if found guilty?

    If Barry bonds is going to have an asterisk next to his name in the record books, then so should Lexington steel for his Viagra use in the porn industry which led to many porn awards, as well my sales associate Alex for drinking an excessive amount of coffee and red bull to the point where he forces himself to work 16 hours a day just to win the award of salesmen of the month for the last 5 months.

    I feel strongly about this topic for many reasons, I love home runs, I watch wwe, I’d much rather see a juiced up Brian Cushing than a flabby one, I miss the bird man and marinovich for both the same reasons as you probably know. Bottom line, let the players use PEDs if they want to.

  3. U of A...mazing says:

    So just to be clear…. You are retracting your statement made in the original post when you stated that the greatest benefit of peds was the quickened recovery of muscles from game to game in a long season that requires endurance and health to now saying the greatest benefit of using peds is giving an individual the ability to hit home runs? Just seems to be a bit contradictory to me.

  4. U of A…mazing: I don’t feel like I retracted/contradicted any of my previous statements. What I actually said was “Steroids can make you bigger, stronger, faster, and able to recover more quickly. One of the biggest factors in being a successful baseball player is one’s ability to recover on a day to day basis.” I never said quicker recovery was THE single ‘greatest benefit’ of PEDs, but simply one of MANY. So yes – the combination of a player being bigger, stronger, faster, and able to recover more quickly can indeed help an individual hit more home runs. No contradiction.

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