Adrian Beltre’s “Fluke” 2004 Happens Again

When Adrian Beltre put up one of the best seasons in the history of baseball in 2004, it was labeled many things: an historic fluke, evidence of steroid usage, and/or the greatest example in history of a player trying to cash in on a big contract in his walk year. He went from hitting 23 home runs in 2003 to 48 in 2004, and posted a higher WAR in that one year than he had in the prior three seasons combined.

The narrative just got louder when he went to Seattle and regressed back to his prior levels in his first year under the new contract. It was called a fluke to end all flukes, or it was proof that Beltre just started juicing in order to land a huge paycheck, and then he stopped taking PEDs after he got rich off the deal. These are the conclusions people drew. These are the conclusions people still draw, 10 years later; Just do a twitter search for Chris Davis+steroids.

Well, maybe it’s time to reevaluate those conclusions, because Adrian Beltre has done it again.


Year AB PA H 1B 2B 3B HR BB SO
2004 598 657 200 120 32 0 48 53 87
Last 365 652 700 218 138 36 2 42 41 78

The first line is Beltre’s ’04 season, while the second line is what he has done over the last calendar year. These are just the raw numbers, the actual accounting of what he’s done. The last 365 includes 165 games played because the 2013 season started earlier, so it’s apples to slightly different sized apples, but you can rescale the 2013 line to the 2004 plate appearance markers and the results still come out very similar. Or, more easily, you can just look at his rate stats, and then compare those to the league averages of the time.

In 2004, Beltre hit .334/.388/.629, while an average National League position player hit .270/.341/.437. So, he was +64 points in batting average, +47 points in on base percentage, and +192 points in slugging percentage, relative to an average NL hitter that year. Over the last calendar year, Beltre has hit .334/.379/.589, while an average American League position player hit .255/.319/.407. That leaves him up +79 points in batting average, +60 points in on base percentage, and +182 points in slugging percentage. His raw numbers aren’t quite as impressive, but offense is way down since 2004, and when you put the adjusted numbers next to each other, things look very similar.

Of course, there are park effects in play too, and Texas is a much better plate to hit than Los Angeles. But that’s why we have wRC+, which adjusts for both park effects and the league averages of the time. In 2004, Beltre posted a 161 wRC+; over the last 365 days, he’s at 158. And remember, that’s in a larger sample size. Over the last year, Adrian Beltre has been as good of a hitter as he was in 2004.

There are a bunch of takeaways from this:

1. Adrian Beltre is really freaking good.
2. The obvious narrative isn’t true just because it’s obvious.
3. Assuming that every surprisingly great performance is due to PED usage is silly.
4. The Past Calendar Year split is a lot of fun.
5. Aging curves are averages, and not every player follows them precisely.

It’s long past time anyone stopped referring to Adrian Beltre’s 2004 season as a fluke. He’s proven that he can hit at a high level, and now he’s even shown that he can have that same kind of offensive performance again over a full year’s worth of playing time.

The things people said about Adrian Beltre 10 years ago simply weren’t true. There’s no evidence he’s ever used PEDs. The contract year phenomenon is a myth. He’s revered by his teammates as perhaps one of the most team-centric, hard working players in the game.

And 10 years after putting up one of the great seasons in Major League history, he’s showing that it wasn’t a fluke.



Print This Post



Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 17 days ago

I’m glad you addressed the roids idiocy. There’s no evidence of roid use by a lot of players but that doesn’t prevent internet soothsayers from stating how obvious it is that people like Beltre are on the juice.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 17 days ago

I can understand why people are jaded, though. A few years ago, people would have called you crazy for suggesting Ryan Braun was on something. It’s a problem that MLB players will probably have to put up with forever.

not to sound like an athlete, but...
Guest
not to sound like an athlete, but...
3 years 17 days ago

well said, Tim.

Steve Holt
Guest
Steve Holt
3 years 17 days ago

I recall being shouted down a few times when Braun’s 2012 numbers were evidence that he was not juicing in 2011. And then Biogenesis.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 16 days ago

That’s the thing. Braun didn’t look like your typical roided out freak. He looked athletic. It’s not like he had muscles on top of muscles like McGwire. I’ll give every player the benefit of the doubt until there is a positive test or solid evidence, but it’s still in the back of mind.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 16 days ago

Braun’s 2012 numbers were evidence of not juicing no more than his 2011 numbers were evidence of juicing. People using either season to definitively argue one way or the other are shallow.

Abnormally good numbers are not sufficient credible evidence to prove juicing, just as abnormally low numbers are not sufficient credible evidence to prove that someone is no longer juicing. It may be a piece of evidence but it takes a lot more than that to provide conclusive proof either way.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 16 days ago

I do not think anyone is arguing that a stnadout season is proof of juicing. We are just stating that because of the history and track record, guys will be under more scrutiny when they have a outlier season.

When guys that look clean (i.e. not bulky)are putting up crazy numbers (i.e. arod, braun) it ruins it for everyone else.

To my knowledge, besides speculation, Brady Anderson was never linked to PEDs, but the guy hit 50 homeruns, a quarter of his career total (14 seasons, 10 pretty much full seasons) in one season. Fair or not, a lot of people are going to say, “hmm, 96, middle of the ‘steroid era’, 50 homeruns for a guy that only 2 other times topped 20, something stinks here.”

Yes, I know Brady Anderson is a pretty extreme example.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 16 days ago

I totally agree with that on all counts; it seems reasonable to be suspicious of outlier seasons. I don’t think it’s reasonable to give voice (and thereby some legitimacy) to those suspicions without some more credible evidence, however.

Cus
Guest
Cus
3 years 16 days ago

Google Ryan Braun Shirtless and look at his abs when he is douche-tastically celebrating a walk off homer. Muscle and leanness like that is some combo of PEDs even if not ‘roids’ per se.

I.P. Freely
Guest
I.P. Freely
3 years 17 days ago

Doesn’t Beltre have a medical exception that allows him to take a banned substance due to his lost testical?

Do normal aging curves still come into play when a player is given a medical waiver that allows him to essentially have the same testosterone count he had at age 27?

I would imagine that if he is indeed taking something to account for his injury, that the Dr’s have him at peak form and not simply that of a typical man his age.

Coincidence or not, his career has taken a turn for the better after his injury.

Ed
Guest
Ed
3 years 16 days ago

Or more likely, his career took a turn for the better after he left the spacious confines of Safeco Field.

Swfcdan
Guest
Swfcdan
3 years 16 days ago

Lost testicle? Dunno how you know that man, but hope you didn’t check yourself…

Llewdor
Guest
Llewdor
3 years 16 days ago

Beltre didn’t like to wear a cup, and he took a harder grounder in the groin in a game in Seattle.

He still chased down the ball and finished the play… with a ruptured testicle.

TomReagan
Guest
TomReagan
3 years 16 days ago

Darn right people will speculate, but the players have themselves to blame for that. It finally seems as though the players really are beginning to police themselves and genuinely want to rid baseball of PEDs, but until failing a drug test becomes an unpardonable sin and until those players become pariahs within the game fans will speculate.

The players could’ve agreed to Olympic style testing or even stricter, but they haven’t and they’ve also allowed the steroid culture to not only infect baseball but to become synonymous with baseball.

MLB players are reaping what they’ve sown when it comes to their reputation for cheating.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 15 days ago

“There’s no evidence of roid use by a lot of players but that doesn’t prevent internet soothsayers from stating how obvious it is that people like Beltre are on the juice.”

Hmmm. Manny Ramirez tested positive for steroids three times. Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Ken Caminiti, Steve Finley, David Ortiz, Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Mark McGwire, Eric Gagne, Roger Clemens and Ivan Rodriguez were all juicers.

Twenty players just received huge bans for PED use.

And the period of PED use JUST SO HAPPENS to have coincided with a period where all of these records were broken.

Now, Dave Cameron defended ALL OF THESE PEOPLE for years. I mean, in 2005, if you said Bonds and Clemens were on steroids, and that’s why they were posting these ridiculous numbers into their forties, it was all the same BS that Cameron’s saying today about Beltre.

I think Beltre was a PED guy, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he has been back on the juice. Given the current climate, it’s a distinct possibility, no matter what self-important clowns like Dave Cameron think.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 17 days ago

Looks like it’s a fluke twice.

Jaack
Guest
Jaack
3 years 17 days ago

If Adrian Beltre has two flukes, than he’s likely a whale.

GvN
Guest
GvN
3 years 17 days ago

A mutant whale.

Jay29
Member
Jay29
3 years 17 days ago

That sucker would be able to swim really fast. And make really big splashes.

Kif Kroker
Guest
Kif Kroker
3 years 17 days ago

Precious hamburgers?

mch38
Member
mch38
3 years 16 days ago

That hates having his head touched

John DiFool
Guest
John DiFool
3 years 16 days ago

Or a Hall of Famer.

IZZY2112
Member
IZZY2112
3 years 17 days ago

An interesting question. How many active players will end their career with more WAR than Adrian Beltre. I’d bet on Pujols, A-Rod, Miggy and Trout as probably all beating him in the end. Jeter probably won’t. Longoria, Wright, and McCutchen all have decent shots, though it’s above their median expectation. Harper and Machado could I suppose but projecting either for ~80 career WAR seems excessive.

JuanPierreDoesSteroids
Guest
JuanPierreDoesSteroids
3 years 17 days ago

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Carlos Beltran vs Adrian Beltre race. Beltre has him beat this season 4.4 to 1.8, and that was good enough to give him the career edge 64.3 to 63.9. And considering that Beltran is 2 years older, I don’t think that he is going to be getting the lead back.

Captain Obvious
Guest
Captain Obvious
3 years 17 days ago

Beltre has no chance of beating Arod, as that’s nearly 50 Win gap, but he might close on Pujols, particularly if Pujols doesn’t have any more decent years (by decent: ~135 WRC ~3-4 wins). I am interested in Harper though, as his offense has the chance to replicate Pujols or Miggy should it all come together.

Preston
Guest
Preston
3 years 16 days ago

The Jeter vs. Beltre question is interesting. Jeter has been the better hitter for his career (as well as the better base runner). Yet Beltre might be more valuable despite playing a less valuable defensive position. Which raises some interesting questions. Would Jeter have been more valuable at 3b where his limited range would have been less important? What kind of SS would Beltre have been? Better than Jeter?

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 16 days ago

Jeter has been the better hitter for his career *RELATIVE TO HIS POSITION*

/fixed with an important distinction/

Preston
Guest
Preston
3 years 16 days ago

No, Jeter has been the better offensive player.
Jeter .313/.382/.447 wOBA .365 wRC+ 122 (these are weighted on league average not positional average)
Beltre .282/.333/.479 wOBA .348 wRC+ 113

It is possible that Jeter’s decline years drag his numbers down, and Beltre has been significantly better the last four years so he might boost his numbers, but that’s discounting the fact that he’s probably going to have some decline years at the end of his contract too. Either way the point was about defense. Jeter is a terrible SS, but it’s not hard to imagine him being an averagish 3b, Beltre is a great 3b and it’s not hard to imagine him being an averagish SS. I would be interested to see hypothetically how it would change their WAR value. Would Beltre be more or less valuable at the more valuable position without the gaudy defensive numbers, would Jeter be more or less valuable at the less valuable position if his atrocious defensive numbers weren’t such a drag on his value. The answer might tell us what would be the better position for guys like Manny Machado or Xander Bogaerts in the future.

Waynetolleson
Guest
3 years 16 days ago

No, Derek Jeter has been a better hitter. Additionally, I’m not sold on UZR and, therefore, WAR. Are they better stats than BA and FP? Sure. But do I really think Adrian Beltre saves his team 30 runs one year, costs his team 7 runs the next, then saves 20 runs the next? I think there are certain positions where UZR and DRS exaggerate the number of runs saved.

Of course, this site loves UZR and therefore loves Adrian Beltre, and loves to rag on Derek Jeter, the worst player in the history of the game (with 3300 hits and 2000 runs scored).

vivaelpujols
Guest
vivaelpujols
3 years 16 days ago

UZR is basically the most positive on Jeter over his career. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12399

Read and learn.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 15 days ago

“UZR is basically the most positive on Jeter over his career.”

But UZR is not a completely accurate statistic. I mean, a couple years ago, UZR said Brett Gardner saved 20 runs the first two months of the season. Then, the rest of the season, he only saved four runs.

Which do I think is really more inconsistent here, UZR, or Brett Gardner.

I’m just saying I don’t take it as sacrosanct that Adrian Beltre saves 20 runs a year and Jeter costs his team 15 runs a years in the field. Those statistics bounce around too much to be reliable.

In my observation, UZR/DRS overrate 3B and LF. You put a Trout or Gardner in LF and they’re saving 30 runs. You put them in center, and all of a sudden, they’re neutral defenders.

Whether you accept or not, all defensive stats are still largely based on SOMEBODY’S OPINION OF WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

Rule of Law
Guest
Rule of Law
3 years 17 days ago

There’s also no evidence he’s never used PEDs.

Jaack
Guest
Jaack
3 years 17 days ago

There’s also no evidence that he’s not Martin Van Buren reincarnated.

Kosmo Kramer
Guest
Kosmo Kramer
3 years 16 days ago

Has he ever flashed the secret sign of the Van Buren boys?

Max
Guest
Max
3 years 17 days ago

Your user name is broken.

Evidence is not a synonym for conclusive proof. Of course there is evidence that he’s never used PEDs (for example, a statement by him that he hasn’t used PEDs would be evidence).

Also, you seem to be of the “innocent until proven guilty” school.

Max
Guest
Max
3 years 17 days ago

I meant guilty until proven innocent, oops.

Hojam23
Guest
Hojam23
3 years 17 days ago

except for the fact that he has never failed a drug test

Nelson Cruz
Guest
Nelson Cruz
3 years 17 days ago

Yeah, me neither.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 17 days ago

Lance Armstrong never failed any tests, nor did Roger Clemens. A-Rod has been cheating his whole career and only got caught that one time in 2003 before they instituted penalties.

Who really thinks that Ortiz isn’t back on the Juice? How can we be so sure that Beltre didn’t get tired of being a mediocre hitter (relative to his talent) and went back on the Juice when he got to Boston and Texas, seeing as a bunch of players in those organizations were doping?

That’s the tragedy of MLB and the MLBPA waiting so long. Since every great player of the past generation, despite the silly defenses of people like Dave Cameron, has turned out to be a Juicer, why should we trust that Beltre isn’t?

I mean, ten years ago, Cameron was writing this same crap about Ortiz, Manny, A-Rod, and Clemens. They knew about advanced stats, and all of those silly fans were just so stupid for thinking the players were all Juicing.

Turns out the fans were right. So, after fifteen years of being victims of a hoax, why should fans trust a guy like Beltre is clean? I sure don’t.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 16 days ago

Wayne’s main point – that not failing a drug test isn’t proof of anything – is absolutely correct and well-taken. That said we shouldn’t start smearing players without some credible evidence (as he went on to do), but not failing a test shouldn’t be used as any sort of proof that a player is clean. We just had a dozen players suspended who never failed any tests.

Stringer Bell
Guest
Stringer Bell
3 years 16 days ago

This post is worse than aids

Waynetolleson
Guest
Waynetolleson
3 years 16 days ago

To the person who said my post was “worse than A.I.D.S., listen up, fuckface. If you would remove your tongue from Dave Cameron’s nut sack, you’d realize thatallthegreat players Cameron spent a decade defending ALL TURNED OUT TO BE CHEATERS.

That’s a pretty significant fact. Cameron gave us his ass-licking BS about Bonds not being a cheater and Clemens not being a cheater and Manny not being a cheater and A-Rod not being a cheater.

Guess what. THEY WERE ALL CHEATERS. You guys are so fucking lame. Maybe some of you can think for yourselves, but I’d rather use my brain than constantly copying some snide little dipshit like Dave Cameron.

Stringer Bell
Guest
Stringer Bell
3 years 16 days ago

Hey Wayne, show me the evidence that PEDs actually significantly help your game. Go ahead, anytime.

Waynetolleson
Guest
3 years 16 days ago

Evidence that steroids help your game? Are you fucking serious? Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Caminiti, Jason Giambi, Eric Gagne, Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Ivan Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, Jay Bell, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds…

What is with you clowns? You really think that Ortiz went for hitting 25 HR’s to 54 HR’s on his own? You really think Eric Gagne is 55-55 in saves if he’s not on steroids. You think McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds are hitting 60-70 HR’s every year if they’re not on steroids? You really think Clemens has this late success in his career after being mediocre for a few years without steroids? You really think Matt Williams is hitting 43 HR’s in 110 games without steroids? You really think Luis Gonzalez hits 57 HR’s without steroids?

Are y’all really that fucking dense? Do y’all really just believe every stupid thing Dave Cameron writes because he’s Dave Cameron?

Since basically every player who did I absurdly great things the past twenty years was on steroids, it’s hard not to suspect Beltre might have used them, too.

Hank
Guest
Hank
3 years 15 days ago

The standards used to determine the freedom of a person should not be confused with the ability to form an opinion.

Classic example is Pudge = there might be no direct evidence / “proof” but I have little doubt he was using in the late 90’s early 00’s. He was catching a ridiculous # of games in the Texas heat, saw a power bump, showed up at camp with 25-30lbvs of new muscled, played on a team with more than one or two chemists, and when baseball implemented drug testing he decided to “slim down” the offseason before it.

Could one send him to jail with that? No way. Is it enough to form a reasonable opinon on him? Well depending on how you define resonav

Andy
Guest
Andy
3 years 17 days ago

That’s not how it works.

Rule of Law
Guest
Rule of Law
3 years 17 days ago

So easy.

abreutime
Guest
abreutime
3 years 16 days ago

Evidence, sure there’s evidence. No failed drug tests.

Proof, of course not, since it’s nearly impossible to prove something didn’t happen.

Paul Wilson
Guest
Paul Wilson
3 years 16 days ago

Sorry Abreu but “no failed drug tests” does not count as evidence. The drug tests are as useful as a sign on the wall that says “please close the toilet seat lid after using, thanks”

Evan
Guest
Evan
3 years 17 days ago

And damn if he isn’t easily one of the most enjoyable players to watch. The back-knee homers, unreal defense, and sheer fun he has on a diamond make him unlike anyone else in the game. And he’s a total gif machine.

JuanPierreDoesSteroids
Guest
JuanPierreDoesSteroids
3 years 17 days ago

Obvious blood transfusion from Nelson Cruz is obvious.

James
Guest
James
3 years 17 days ago

It’ll be a damn shame the day Beltre retires. Hopefully he’ll go out on one knee and someone rubs his head at the press conference.

KDL
Guest
KDL
3 years 17 days ago

Someone needs to make a statue of this guy. I would drive and hour out of my way to touch its head.

Roger
Guest
Roger
3 years 17 days ago

And all that from a guy with a career UZR/150 of +15 at 3B. Absolutely amazing.

Neil Weinberg
Editor
3 years 17 days ago

Adrian Beltre HR/FB%:
02: 10
03: 13.5
04: 22.3
05: 10.8
06: 11.9
07: 13.3
08: 13.8
09: 5.6
10: 13.5
11: 16.4
12: 17
13: 14.6
Last 365: 17

I’m not advocating that it was roids or contract year stuff, but that ’04 number at Dodgers Stadium compared to the rest of his career doesn’t make a lot of sense. It was a fluke year, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a great player. Doesn’t bother me that Dave is attacking those two particular narratives, but that type of jump in HR/FB rate does scream fluke to me even if it isn’t a “fluke” with judgmental whispers attached.

JH
Guest
JH
3 years 17 days ago

Yeah, but also look at the substantial decline in strikeouts. He wasn’t striking out a ton in ’04, but this year he’s got a K-rate that would look right at home alongside Ichiro’s career numbers. He’s pretty clearly changed his approach and is focusing more on making solid contact than on mashing the ball.

I’m not positive, but I’m guessing a 5% difference in HR/FB between ’04 and the past 365 comes down to something like 3-6 warning track shots that easily could’ve been HRs in different stadiums. That’s a number that’s pretty dramatically affected by just a few results of individual PAs, even over a full season.

Neil Weinberg
Editor
3 years 17 days ago

5% higher HR/FB rate at Dodger Stadium compared to Texas. I don’t really know what I think is responsible, but it just jumped out at me.

JH
Guest
JH
3 years 17 days ago

Dodger stadium inflates HRs too.

Jacoby Ellsbury
Guest
Jacoby Ellsbury
3 years 17 days ago

Hey There

John
Guest
John
3 years 16 days ago

If you want to see something crazy. Look at Joe Mauer’s HR/FB%.

The thing about outliers is they don’t tend to make a lot of sense. Sometimes there is a good explanation that we just don’t have, sometimes it is a statistical blip.

MLB Rainmaker
Member
Member
MLB Rainmaker
3 years 16 days ago

I agree. You could take out ’04 altogether and certainly over the last 4 years he’s earned his place as an elite 3B, both for offense and defense. Regardless, his ’04 looks objectively sketchy.

I think its plausible to say that a guy who was otherwise naturally very talented choose to dedicate himself to an offseason program in advance of his contract year and anecdotally came back 20 lbs bigger for spring training. At the same time, 2004 was the first year of mandatory testing, so I think as much Beltre would be incented to “juice” there’d be just as much risk doing so going into his contract year and facing a new unknown testing system.

Beltre ends up signing early in December and decides to spend the rest of the winter on the beach vs. the gym like he did before.

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
3 years 17 days ago

Such an odd career, one great year is the first eleven, then 4 more excellent years after the age 30.

Colin
Guest
Colin
3 years 17 days ago

Maybe he “figured it out” for one year, then lost it, then got it back in Texas?

Much like this discussion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnAR2qB24yQ

JH
Guest
JH
3 years 17 days ago

Don’t underestimate the Safeco effect. That place got in the heads of a lot of right-handed hitters who had great years elsewhere both before and after their time with the Ms.

philkid3
Guest
philkid3
3 years 17 days ago

Also, Safeco’s park effects are applied broadly based on run environment. That does have its uses, but from a true talent standpoint, it underrates Beltre, since the thing it most damages are righties with power. It does not damage all types of hitters equally.

Barry Bonds
Guest
Barry Bonds
3 years 16 days ago

Who says a guy can’t peak after his 30th birthday?

nd910
Guest
nd910
3 years 15 days ago

40th*

Angelsjunky
Guest
Angelsjunky
3 years 17 days ago

I remember back around 2000 when Rob Neyer wrote an article about which of the then young and very promising third base crop would have the best career: Adrian Beltre, Fernando Tatis, Troy Glaus, Eric Chavez, Aramis Ramirez, and Scott Rolen – all born between 1975 and 1979. Anyhow, Neyer picked Tatis as his prediction for having the best career. Here’s how it has turned out by WAR:

70.1 Rolen
64.3 Beltre
36.4 Ramirez
35.3 Chavez
35.2 Glaus
7.4 Tatis

Beltre will almost certainly surpass Rolen and both should make the Hall of Fame, but you never know. Glaus, Chavez, and Ramirez are all borderline Hall of the Very Good and Tatis, well, hit shappens.
Ouch.

Andy
Guest
Andy
3 years 17 days ago

I love how you can’t predict baseball.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
3 years 17 days ago

But! Number of occurrences of two grand slams in a single inning:

Tatis: 1
Rolen: 0
Beltre: 0
Glaus: 0
Ramirez: 0
Chavez: 0

chanhopark
Guest
chanhopark
3 years 17 days ago

I remember that inning very well

chanhopark
Guest
chanhopark
3 years 17 days ago

I had a lot of diarrhea that inning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GIEHPGj9sI

Dan
Guest
Dan
3 years 17 days ago

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s not a fluke to be 20% better than you have been over the last 2.5 years (last 365). It’s an aberration, but not that much of one–probably something on the order of 4-6 doubles that flew over the fence and 6 bloop singles that were outs in a previous year. To put it a different way, that’s the difference in career wRC+ of Albert Pujols and Chipper Jones. They’re not indistinguishable, but if you took the names off their season lines there are Chipper seasons that would fit right in with Pujols’ seasons to dat.

What made the 2004 season so ridiculous is that he was something like 65% better than his career to that point. That’s the difference between Barry Bonds and Johnny Gomes…

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
3 years 17 days ago

There is a reason we analyze stats based on a single season’s worth of data, there are many factors that aren’t shared by different seasons. It is very easy to use random selective endpoints to make an argument. A season’s worth of plate appearances is not the same as a single season’s worth of data, the two are not the same by any means.

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Brett Cecil
Guest
Brett Cecil
3 years 17 days ago

The last calendar year isn’t particularly a “random selective endpoint” (365 days being determined by the Earth and the Sun and physics). Although now I want to search for leaders over the past 209 days. Can FanGraphs do that for me?

Dave Recker
Guest
Dave Recker
3 years 17 days ago

Baseball Musings can do that for you with its Day by Day Database, though you’ll have to count out the number of days yourself.

Seattle Homer
Member
Seattle Homer
3 years 17 days ago

The past 209 days? Yup. 2013 Season-To-Date.

Alex
Guest
Alex
3 years 16 days ago

Personally, I’d like to search 211 days but that’s just me.

triple_r
Member
3 years 17 days ago

Just don’t touch his head.

AF
Guest
AF
3 years 17 days ago

There is no evidence Beltre has taken steroids and I have no particular reason to believe he has. However, I don’t really see how the fact that he has played as well in the last year (age 33-34) as he did in 2004 makes it *less* likely that he took steroids than if you just look at 2004.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 17 days ago

Or maybe Beltre’s back on steroids, seeing as many people who are still using aren’t getting caught by the tests.

Billy
Guest
Billy
3 years 16 days ago

What evidence is there to show that players are juicing now and not being caught? Not just players but “many” as you state.

What you’ve done is just pointless, you’ve stated many people are using PED’s and not being caught by tests with 0 evidence to point you down that road at all. It’s pathetic and it’s annoying.

Waynetolleson
Guest
3 years 16 days ago

Most of the players in Biogenesis didn’t test positive. Bonds was beating tests. Clemens was beating tests. A-Rod has beaten tests his entire career. The synthetic testosterone these guys take can clear the system within 48 hours.

And “pathetic and annoying” are the words that come to mind when I see people slavishly copying ideas that aren’t logical to support a narrative that doesn’t make sense.

Joe Veno
Member
3 years 17 days ago

Yes, but you make it sound as though he DIDN’T use steroids. We know not whether he did or didn’t.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 17 days ago

Beltre had a .629 SLG and a .294 ISO in 2004. He has a .537 SLG and a.213 ISO in 2013.

Thanks, Dave, for confirming our suspicions that Adrian Beltre was on steroids in 2004.

Tim A
Guest
Tim A
3 years 17 days ago

Long past fluke with 4 straight years of 134+ wRC+

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
3 years 17 days ago

134 wRC+ is a far cry from 161 wRC+.

philkid3
Guest
philkid3
3 years 17 days ago

Dave, this is the sexiest thing you have ever written.

jdbolick
Member
Member
3 years 17 days ago

The difference is that some of the speculation about Beltre was coming off the record from sources inside the Dodgers’ organization. That doesn’t necessarily make them true, and it could have been sour grapes about him getting a big contract elsewhere, but it still gives you pause.

Paul Wilson
Guest
Paul Wilson
3 years 16 days ago

Sorry but any Dodger in ’04 is suspicious of PEDs. “Hey LoDuca, Gagne isn’t here today. Toss me a jar of the clear?”

I agree that there is no evidence regarding Beltre as an individual, but anyone on that team who kept the secret is implicitly a part of the problem

Methpane
Guest
Methpane
3 years 17 days ago

So being X% better than a statline largely driven by cheaters and similarly X% better than a statline collectively less driven by cheaters, allegedly, debunks cheating rumors how?

If anything, I’m even more curious how he kept up with the 2004 numbers unless it was precisely what you claim it wasn’t….a fluke…or artificial.

So. Con. Fused.

isavage30
Guest
isavage30
3 years 17 days ago

I would have hoped that the Ryan Braun saga and biogenesis, where guys who had never tested positive were still found to be using, would have stopped some of the steroids-don’t-do-anything propaganda from this site, and Dave in particular. Beltre’s ’04 looking less like a fluke is a fine article, but why include the commentary about how this somehow debunks or says anything about steroid use? It could be that Beltre was just killed by Safeco, and had he never gone there, his offense wouldn’t have dropped after the contract year. Could be he used steroids, stopped since he had his money and testing started, then ran into someone on a new team who directed him somewhere to get some undetectable stuff. Neither piece of conjecture, or others you could conjure, is debunked or supported by these statistics. Why even enter into the steroid debate with an article like this?

Waynetolleson
Guest
3 years 16 days ago

I’m totally with you. There are less PED’s in the game tha. There were, but the game is by no means clean. I’m also sick of the stupid argument that ‘steroids don’t do anything.’ Steroids make you stronger, faster, and improve eyesight and reflexes. Fact is, if steroids didn’t do these things, athletes wouldn’t pay millions of dollars to risk their lives to take these substances.

There’s so much evidence that steroids improve performance. As usual, Cameron and his acolytes are too cool for school.

nd910
Guest
nd910
3 years 15 days ago

Eyesight/reflexes? You’d be better off taking amphetamines or even chewing tobacco. Stronger/faster? The evidence suggests that people are taking extreme positions. Steroids blow up the upper body, which gives power hitters a few extra feet on fly balls. That doesn’t seem like much, because it really isn’t. The psychological effect of looking and feeling stronger, and being able to recover faster from injury and workout – that’s where these drugs give a boost.

Do I think legal substances and some positive psychology would have the same results? Yes.

TapRat
Guest
TapRat
3 years 17 days ago

Seems like every one of Dave’s articles contains at least one line like this:

“The things people said about Adrian Beltre 10 years ago simply weren’t true.”

This statement is blatant bullshit, I think intended to stir up a debate that doesn’t really exist. We don’t know if he was using steroids or not. OF COURSE we don’t. 99% of Fangraphs readers would agree on this. We don’t know. We may have our various opinions, but we pretty much all agree we don’t know. That doesn’t mean he’s innocent – this isn’t a court of law. I have never understood why people invoke the “innocent until proven guilty” rule in these situations. There is no “burden of proof”. Based on what each of us knows, we each have an opinion. That’s all we’re discussing here.

My opinion is that, all things considered, Beltre’s 2004 was suspicious. I don’t know if he used steroids, but my guess is that he probably did. I think Dave’s point is simply this: if you think Beltre used steroids in 2004 because it such an outlier, please note that it is not as much of an outlier as you may think. Fair enough. I am now closer to the fence than I was before.

But the whole debate is kind of dumb for that reason. We’re all somewhere fairly close to the middle on this in the first place. Basically, we all agree we don’t know, and we all would, when pressed, have a guess as to the truth (but again, we all agree it would only be a guess). That’s really not great facts for a debate.

Chickensoup
Member
Member
Chickensoup
3 years 16 days ago

My one and only Christmas wish this year is that steroids stops being mentioned in seemingly every single baseball article written.

I mean seriously, who really cares about steroid usage THAT much? I usually enjoy reading the replies as much as the articles, just to get other peoples takes, but it’s hard to sift through all the steroid crap as soon as anything about steroids is mentioned to get to actual posts that are relevant to the main point of the article.

About the article. I usually don’t like using split seasons on stats, but i have to admit that this raised an eyebrow for me. I think a lot of people kind of forget just how great Beltre is. He’s not the kind of player you think about as a truely elite level talent, but he most surely is.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 16 days ago

I agree. I think we’d all be better off if we only talked about steroids when people actually get caught using them. Otherwise, even bringing them up is somewhat impugning of the subject’s character.

Old baseball writer hack
Guest
Old baseball writer hack
3 years 16 days ago

“who really cares about steroid usage THAT much?”

Hi! I don’t think we’ve met.

Helen Lovejoy
Guest
Helen Lovejoy
3 years 16 days ago

WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

Victor Conte
Guest
Victor Conte
3 years 16 days ago

I’m not saying that Beltre juiced in 2004 or now, but there are some pretty out of whack numbers going on here. We’ve seen this too many times in the past and it later comes out that these guys were juicing, so it is natural to look at Beltre with a bit of skepticism.
There are over 500 different kinds of steroids out there and MLB tests for about 50. Pretty good odds of not getting caught. That’s why places like Biogenesis are successful. But the real drug of choice is uppers. When players are getting run down and the minor injuries start to wear a player down, start taking a few pick-me-ups and you are playing at full speed again. Once again, MLB doesn’t test for all stimulants, so if you have the right chemist, you can get away with a lot.

JRM
Guest
JRM
3 years 16 days ago

The walk-year performance spike has been supported in several studies (For example, Dayn Perry addressed it in Baseball Between the Numbers; contra, Phil Birnbaum found the effect slight or nonexistent.)

I think if you do a proper control group study, you’ll find there is a little effect to walk year performance. But that’s a small difference, not a 20-homer difference.

I think 2013 seals in Beltre as a clear HoFer. He is good at baseball.

Joe Veno
Member
3 years 16 days ago

We’ve been very weary of guys who get better after their primes. Beltre is doing exactly that. He’s doing exactly that. It’s not so much about the 2004 season as much as it is about 2010-now. Not to say he is on them. But fluke seasons happen. Guys usually decline a bit rather then get better after age 31.

Barry Bonds
Guest
Barry Bonds
3 years 16 days ago

Who says a player can’t get better after age 31?

Phantom Stranger
Guest
Phantom Stranger
3 years 16 days ago

Beltre has definitely had an odd career path. That park in Seattle killed his offensive numbers during the supposed prime of his career. He would be a no-doubt HOFer now if he had signed with a more hitter-friendly team’s park after his 2004.

The Rajah
Guest
The Rajah
3 years 16 days ago

If you break Beltre’s HR totals down by home and away, you see that his road totals from 2005 to present look fairly unassuming (12,9,15,15,4,15,9,16,13+), and then you look at 2004 (25). His home totals seem to reflect more of a park effect (7,16,11,10,4 in SEA; 13 in BOS; 23,20,12+ in TEX). Safeco suppressed his power while he has thrived at Arlington. Of course, that 2004 season still seems like something out of a science fiction novel (23 at Chavez Ravine?). Still, a player getting better in his 30’s makes you raise an eyebrow.

Nick
Guest
Nick
3 years 16 days ago

I find it amusing that Dave resorts to hyperbole when it comes to pumping up one of his personal favorite players. For example, if someone were to ask him in a chat if he thought Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2011 was one of the “greatest seasons of all time”, he would probably, while acknowledging it was a great year, mock them derisively. But Adrian Beltre played for the Mariners and does funny things in the dugout (i.e. “team-centric”), so that extra .6 WAR really makes a huge difference.

John
Guest
John
3 years 16 days ago

Beltre’s season was the best ever by a Third Baseman based on Fangraphs WAR formula and the third best based on Baseball Reference’s. Is that historic enough for you?

Nick
Guest
Nick
3 years 16 days ago

He would probably also not hesitate for a second to say Ellsbury’s season was a total fluke.

Maybe Jacoby should make a fake-angry face the next time someone touches his head? That would be hilarious!

The Royal We?
Guest
The Royal We?
3 years 16 days ago

this site would be so much better if dave cameron and carson cistulli left it and started their own website. is hipsterdouchebagmusings.com taken?

Paul Wilson
Guest
Paul Wilson
3 years 16 days ago

strongly disagree.

Bill but not Ted
Member
3 years 16 days ago

Expectations of consistency are too high. As incredibly hard and lucky it is to put together a season like he had in ’04, it’s even more difficult to maintain that level of play and luck

AA
Guest
AA
3 years 12 days ago

Sadly for Dave, signing with the Mariners might have cost Beltre a spot in the HOF. He went to the absolute worst park in baseball for his swing.

locdog284
Member
locdog284
3 years 8 days ago

Didnt elsbury have a ridiculous year 2 years ago where he hit 31 homers without hitting more than 10 in any other year?

No one is accusing him of roids.. beltre is actually hitting closer to his 2004 numbers than elsbury is compared to 2011

James
Guest
James
1 year 3 months ago

Well maybe it’s just that some of us readers are experienced in the world of PED’s. I’ve taken them before and have friends that have taken them for years. I take one look at some of these guys and just laugh when you write articles like this. 1000% he took PED’s in 2004 and he has been taking them so he won’t get caught. He takes em, stops for a short time, takes another cycle, stops again. When you are dealing with millions of dollars, you have insiders that will tell you when testing will be done. The MLB tries to get the public to believe they are testing these guys hard and non-stop when it it exactly the opposite. Mlb only does it to to uphold their image hence more money. It’s a big farce. Beltre natural? No frickin way.

wpDiscuz