There is No Juiced Ball, No Steroid Era

Unearned runs have been on the decline.

Baseball does not change.

Yes, the rules change; the bats change; the fields, the uniforms and the broadcasts change. The pitchers throw differently, and the hitters don’t swing the same. The gloves have changed shape, and the umpires call the games in a new way.

But, since 1871–since before 1871–the ancient Spirit of Pitchers has sat in the same spot, unmoving, across from the timeless Spirit of Batters, and they have played their unending game of chess in the exact same way, no change.

Consider Washington D.C.’s mild afternoon on April 10, 1928.

Bill Regan steps to the plate with two runners on base. It is Opening Day. The crowd, crowned with derbies and garnished with handlebars, rises to its feet. The 5-foot-10 second baseman is about to have his best season ever, at one point hitting two home runs in a single inning–the lone Red Sox player to perform that feet until Ellis Burks repeats it 61 years later. But today, a clear day in the nation’s capital, he won’t have any homers.

The towering 6-foot-1 Milt Gaston–pitching against his brother-in-law, Red Sox starting pitcher Danny MacFayden–delivers the pitch, and Regan slaps it into play and begins a mad dash around the diamond, clearing the bases with a roaring triple.

The first game of the 1928 season ends 7-5, Red Sox over Senators, and–more appropriately–with a tally of one triple and zero home runs. The 1928 season is the final season in baseball history in which hitters were considerably more likely to hit triples than homers. In 1931, triples would have a final gasp–1,070 triples against 1,069 homers–but from then on, the four siblings would now be ordered: singles, doubles, homers, then triples.

Singles and triples have been on steady decline as homers tick upwards.

What caused the decline in triples? Changes in the rules? Different ballpark dimensions? New approaches to hitting, a new calculus for base running?

The answer: Yes. Yes to those things, and yes to countless other factors.

In 2016, hitters had the lowest rate of triples per at-bat in major league history spanning back to 1871. In 2017, they hit the second-lowest rate of triples. Also in 2017: the lowest rate of singles in baseball history and the highest strikeout rate ever recorded.

While the rate of doubles has fluctuated over the years, homer and triples have taken steady, opposite paths.

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When the baseball world had, oh, let’s say a kind of panic attack about the spike in home run rates starting in 2016, we spent perhaps too little time talking about the massive decline in other outcomes: the placement of triples on the endangered species list and the rapid decline in singles.

The sport of baseball is at its core a 150-year-old war of batters versus pitchers. For the first few decades of the sport, that battle was not explicitly acknowledged; pitchers were supposed to throw hittable pitches and batters could request pitches high or low. But the tension of batter versus pitcher still existed, even in those earliest times. The first paid professional ball player, Jim Creighton, was notorious not just for exploding his abdomen on a gargantuan and ultimately fatal home run swing, but also for reputedly throwing his pitches using a subtle and quite illegal wrist snap in his delivery.

This tug of war between hitters and pitchers had its biggest early gains and losses in the rule book: Pitchers eventually were allowed to snap their wrists during throws (1872) and then eventually throw overhand (1883). Then batters were no longer allowed to call for high or low pitches (1887), and the bats couldn’t be flat on one side, and the pitcher’s mound was moved back 10 more feet (1893).

Most of these changes helped the pitchers and wrangled out-of-control scoring into a more manageable pace.

As the rules of the game evolved, the run-scoring rates per team went from over eight runs per game to the modern four runs per game.

The next stage of the war took place in the ballparks. In 1925, Major League Baseball league determined the minimum home run distance to be 250 feet. In 1959, the minimum dimensions become more specifically 325-400-325 in the left-center-right fields. Each of these shifts–and the ongoing tweaks to ballpark design, from foul ground size to wall height to playing surfaces–have altered the interactions between pitcher and hitter, emphasized different abilities and talents, changed the nature of the unending war.

Technology and sports medicine became another battlefield. New fitness regimes altered the way players prepared for games and seasons. Weightlifting and calisthenics went from out of fashion to recommended to mandatory. Pitch counts and bullpens began to maximize pitchers’ physical output. Specially designed pitching machines helped players identify pitches by spin. Motion tracking tech gave hitters a chance to study their swing patterns.

Racial integration; performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as cocaine, greenies (amphetamines) and steroids; the influx of international players–these are forces that impacted both sides of the battle by possibly equal measures. The so-called “Steroid Era” is notorious for home runs, high ERAs and batters dominating pitchers. The flaw in this narrative, however, is the slew of pitchers who have admitted or been strongly suspected of steroid use.

If increased strength gave hitters such a decisive advantage, then why did pitchers continue to dope? If pitchers throwing hard led to more home runs, then why in the mini-Dead Ball trough of 2010 to 2015 were home runs scarce and pitches faster than ever? And more importantly, why are there more home runs and almost just as high ERAs now, in an era ostensibly not marred by rampant PED use? Has the modern batter found his way around PED testing or some other advantage in a way that affects him more than it affects pitchers?

In the peak of the Steroid Era, the 2000 season, the major league run average (RA9) was 5.20, and in 2017 it was 4.77. This is noteworthy because that same pairing of seasons when examined in ERA (4.77 in 2000 and 4.36 in 2017) has a narrower gap. When we ignore runs scored with the assistance of sloppy defense, the Steroid Era looks much closer to our modern run environment. In fact, since the peak of the Steroid Era, the gap between ERA and RA9 has been ever-narrowing. The narrowing distance between Run (R) rates and Earned Run (ER) rates help illustrate this change. The Steroid Era could just as easily have been called the “( ಠ ʖ̯ ಠ) Defense Era.”

Apparently guys like Manny Ramirez weren’t the best fielders.

Transport a modern Yankee into 1922; let’s take Brett Gardner and stuff him in a time machine. He now faces 80-mph pitches and a defense wearing essentially oven mitts. He must trade in his 33-inch, 30.5-ounce Mizuno Pro for a 35-inch, 40-ounce bat with a thicker handle–and defend a strike zone that goes all the way to tops of his shoulders. He now calls the 279-483-253 insanity that is the Polo Grounds home field. What happens to his offensive output as he faces in-shoots, spitballs and scuffed and torn leather spheroids that resembled baseballs five innings earlier? We have asked him to play an almost entirely different sport, even though Gardner himself is considered by many to be a throwback type of player.

Bring my favorite classic player–Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown–into the modern Cubs rotation and what happens? He is no longer impressive with his upper-80s fastball; his hard-snapping curveball, suspected by some to be the first split-finger fastball, is quite possibly no longer a novelty; and what’s more: The ball isn’t made of horse hide anymore (and is much more lively), center field is 160 feet closer, and the mound is five inches lower.

The 5-foot-10 pitcher might struggle to find the smaller strike zone, and with “neighborhood plays” at second base gone in favor of the cold scrutiny of instant replay, as well as a fresh, not-scuffed baseball in hand for each pitch, his curveball certainly will induce fewer double plays – even if he brings Tinker, Evers and Chance with him.

The hitters he faces are infinitely more willing to strike out, not content with choking up two inches and weakly hitting the ball into play in a pitcher’s count. Moreover, the calisthenics routine that may well have given him a critical edge in fitness in 1908 now barely qualifies as a warmup routine. But with modern workout routines and medicine, with a bullpen allowing him to throw harder through seven innings over five days, and with modern analytics giving him data on each batter in the lineup, and fewer hitters seeing him multiple times in a single season, much of his old job might now feel easier.

All of this is to say: The inner game of baseball, the tug-of-war battle between pitchers and batters, continues to reshape the game and redefine success. With each new era, little in the true nature of the game changes. And when I step back and examine this meta tension and look at the trends of the data, I am less inclined to believe juiced-ball theories or Steroid Era narratives.

Consider the National Football League. The strategy conversation over the last decade has focused around this common notion: “It is a passing league now.”

What made this sport, which was roughly based on rugby–a sport without a forward pass at all–become a game almost entirely focused on throwing the ball to a receiver down the field? The answer is fairly straightforward in football, so it makes it an easy example for this more complicated evolution process in baseball. In the NFL, rampant injuries encouraged first the legalization of passing and then the subsequent hyper regulation of tackling passers and pass catchers. But through all of this, from World War II to today, the average score in the NFL has remained about 20 points per team per game.

In the earliest days of football, back when it was primarily a collegiate sport, frequent on-field fatalities–yes, fatalities–caused then-President Teddy Roosevelt to intervene and demand colleges legalize the forward pass or risk the fury of his bully pulpit. At first, incomplete passes resulted in turnovers, then eventually that was softened to penalties, and then finally a loss of down (as it is today).

Injuries to quarterbacks like Joe Namath, Joe Theismann, Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger have resulted in a gradual overhaul to what is considered an acceptable tackle of a quarterback, such that now pass rushers may only aim for the space between the shoulders and thighs and cannot make hard contact with the quarterback after he releases the ball. The quarterback is also given protections when he runs, unlike running backs or wide receivers. And pass targets–once the object of brutal hits from linebackers and safeties–have received protection in the form of when and how they can be hit, touched or bumped. The advent of the pass interference penalty in 1978 irrevocably bent the game in favor of passing offenses over running offenses.

Per game touchdown rates shifted radically and definitively towards passing touchdowns since the 1970s.

This evolution within football was gradual and traceable. Within baseball, it is more difficult to trace, in part because the end points have not been as distinct. Preventing a defensive back from holding a receiver’s jersey helps all receivers universally because their object is to create separation between themselves and the defenders. But changing the dimensions of the Safeco walls does not necessarily increase Ichiro Suzuki’s home run output in 2012; in fact, it may have negatively impacted his ability to hit triples. It might help a fringe power hitter like Michael Saunders eke out a few more homers, but then it hurts speedsters like Chone Figgins and Suzuki from stretching a line drive into an extra-base hit.

In football, every wide receiver’s job is to get open and catch a ball. In baseball, successful hitters can thrive on walks and singles, drag bunts and slap hits, or doubles and homers.

Likewise, the advent of PITCHf/x as a tool for critiquing umpires may have bred a new hitting approach among hitters who once played more aggressively given the uncertainty of the ball-strike call. Coinciding with the fly-ball hitters’ revolution: the rapid decline in sinker usage. It was just a few short years ago the Cardinals seemed to have found that teaching mid-level starters a sinker or two-seam grip could turn them into All-Stars. Now, the groundball revolution that helped pitchers may have turned into the flyball revolution that increased major league power again and killed the seeing-eye single.

Perhaps as a reaction to the fly ball revolution, pitchers have steered away from sinkers.

League-wide sinker usage in 2016 and 2017, as defined by the Pitch Info identification algorithms, took its first dip beneath 20 percent. The sinking fastball is rapidly becoming a less important pitch than the slider.

I believe part of what we are seeing in the recent flyball and home run uptick (and singles and triples downtick) is a function of both evolving pitcher-batter strategies and external influences, such as owners preferring hitters’ parks over pitchers’ parks. And if the change in run environment is a function of evolving strategies, that means it is likely to change in the coming years.

In world of baseball fandom and in the subculture of baseball analytics, we sometimes have a tendency to get caught up in the micro changes in the league. When managers began using the Ted Williams shift on non-Ted Williams players in the early 2010s, it appeared the offensive depression would be the new normal, the future ad infinitum. But when hitters realized that the decreased value of ground balls made fly balls more valuable, the major leagues reoriented toward higher run scoring.

In some senses, yes, this is a “there is no spoon” argument. I am not presenting an engineering argument against the juiced-ball theory. I am not really even attempting to conclusively prove anything about juiced balls. But I am rather attempting to caution us to avoid headlines like this:

Or bold claims like (now former) San Francisco Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti has figured out how to beat FIP. Because it might turn out to be a matter of changing park factors moreso than a revolution in coaching. Or maybe it was an adjustment to pitch sequencing combined with park factors?

But the truth is, through all of this, baseball abides.

References & Resources


Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.
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ThomServo
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ThomServo
There definitely is a PED era, specifically a steroid and HGH era, and MLB is still in it. Roughly 100% of the articles on fangraphs and major media outlets on this subject are merely apologetics, looking the other way on this inconvenient issue. I think it’s likely that there will be more similar themed articles in coming weeks. Stretching your timelines out for more than 100 years to reduce the visual slope of the increase in HRs doesn’t change the fact that HR frequency has increased to a record-breaking both in the 90s and now again in the mid 10s.… Read more »
WARrior
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Member
WARrior
I agree with much of this. We know that many players started taking anabolic agents in the 1990s, and this corresponded with a major increase in batting production. The poster boy, of course, was Barry Bonds. No one can possibly look at the numbers Bonds put up—in his late 30s and early 40s, no less, when he should have been in serious decline—and argue that PEDs were not a factor. McGwire and Sosa also benefited greatly from PEDs. When a player like Sosa, who never hit more than 40 HR in his entire career, hits 60+ not once (like Maris),… Read more »
Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider

Agree. One of the most sensible comments about PED use I have read.

weezy
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Member
weezy
I suppose I am not understanding your assertion and/or point of the comment. First, I remain unconvinced of the claims. I don’t see how nearly 100% of mainstream media is apologizing for steroid use. Additionally, I think an argument that steroid use is the only (or even the most compelling) explanation for increase in runs over the past years is not founded in good science – am I to believe then that more players are taking more steroids to account for the increase in home run rates over the past 5 years? Why not every player take their body weight… Read more »
ThomServo
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ThomServo
I’d challenge you to find a single article from a prominent sports website or paper claiming that PED use is marring MLB, or arguing that steroids and HGH are impacting the game. Further, no one is saying ‘steroid use is the only explanation’ for increase in runs. Yet, the correlation between ‘players caught using HGH or steroids’ and ‘HR rate’ since the mid 80s is strong, between 0.4 and 0.6 depending on whether you include things like the Mitchell report. Your question- ‘why does not every player take their weight in steroids’ is a strawman. The answer is the health… Read more »
weezy
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Member
weezy
Thanks for the thoughtful reply, ThomServo. I think the first point you bring up is where my lack of understanding stems: it sounds like you are arguing that PED use is marring MLB, which not only is not backed up in the suspension data you provide, it is based on an entirely subjective rationale. This is fine; it’s just not backed up with the data we have. This is why I don’t feel like it is a conspiracy that media outlets are withholding the “steroid epidemic” narrative from the consuming audience; that narrative just isn’t supported. I was referencing the… Read more »
ThomServo
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ThomServo
“Marring” is too subjective to really discuss imo. More to the point we can discuss and estimate how common PED use in baseball. I strongly disagree with your estimates. First, players that are caught with PEDs (and most pro players) don’t have one year careers- so if 10 are caught per year, and there are 4,500 players in a give year, and 1 out of 100 users are caught- that does not mean only 1/4 of players use- the ratio would be higher to account for cycling on and off of PEDs. If the average user only uses PEDs for… Read more »
WARrior
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Member
WARrior

I’d just add that only 15-20% of the players sanctioned in connection with Biogenesis actually tested positive. And probably a lot more players were doping through Biogenesis who did not get sanctioned because the paper trail wasn’t strong enough to make a compelling case.

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider
I agree with much of what you say about why PEDs should be banned, etc. But I disagree with the idea that PEDs impact enjoyment of the game. I don’t see any evidence that attendance has been affected by “cheating” and I certainly don’t see fans complaining about cheating in general-only about PEDs. And that relates more to the history of the game and sanctity of the records than it does to some general desire to keep the game free of cheating. One thing I’m curious about your comment; are you saying that currently, the only way to become a… Read more »
ThomServo
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ThomServo
I agree generally with your thoughts, but I would say that cheating generally (i.e. fixed matches being an extreme example, PEDs a more moderate example, etc) does decrease sport enjoyment – consider the fixed match crisis in Italian 90s football or Russian 70s football, or recent cycling scandals, or boxing generally. I think steroids and HGH really detract from the romanticism of baseball, thus decreasing enjoyment. Corked bats and spit balls do have a similar effect, but are considered more street wise and less detrimental to the game itself, while also not being criminal offenses. There are so many players… Read more »
WARrior
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Member
WARrior

Just because everyone is taking anabolic agents (which I very much doubt), doesn’t mean everyone is benefiting from them equally. This is the old “if everyone’s doing it, the playing field is still level” argument. Once you introduce a factor that affects different players differently, you have affected the playing field.

Maybe some fans don’t care, but they should be aware of this.

Marc Schneider
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Marc Schneider
But you can say the same for, say, weight training or anything else. Not every player benefits similarly. For that matter, it’s true for medication; medicines don’t affect every person the same. I don’t really see your point. I think anabolic steroids are dangerous and should be banned, but I don’t see the point about it not being a level playing field. Obviously, PEDs would presumably help Barry Bonds more than Joe Schmoe because he’s a better player in the first place. The fact is, the playing field is never level; someone is always seeking an advantage (not necessarily illegally)that… Read more »
WARrior
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Member
WARrior
I respect your point, which is why I said some fans may not care. I in fact have made a similar point on some other forums. It’s a very difficult discussion, because other than the level playing field argument, the main other argument against PEDs, which you yourself refer to, is the safety issue. But I find that argument somewhat hypocritical, because most sports are dangerous to some degree, and many athletes as well as fans find those risks part of what makes the sport appealing. Maybe the best example is the current debate over concussions in the NFL. Is… Read more »
Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd

Provide evidence to support your claim

njguy73
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njguy73

Were derbies and handlebar mustaches still in style in 1928? I thought that went out after the Victorian era ended. There would have been lots of fedoras in the crowd, though.

RMD4
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RMD4
Referring to it as the “( ಠ ʖ̯ ಠ) Defense Era” rather than the “steroid era” is bad analysis. It’s not that the run environment going up was mostly driven by unearned runs going up, it’s that steroids had the effect to make both more runs go up and make the position players less adept to play the field. In turn, once steroid testing punishments were implemented in 2005 (Defensive efficiency went higher that year btw) teams realized that the sluggers were no longer as prevalent and had to acquire lighter hitters that made up for it with their gloves.… Read more »
Dave T
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Dave T
“In the peak of the Steroid Era, the 2000 season, the major league run average (RA9) was 5.20, and in 2017 it was 4.77. This is noteworthy because that same pairing of seasons when examined in ERA (4.77 in 2000 and 4.36 in 2017) has a narrower gap. When we ignore runs scored with the assistance of sloppy defense, the Steroid Era looks much closer to our modern run environment.” The last conclusion is not at all backed up by the statistics that the author cites. The drop in RA9 between 2010 and 2017 was 0.43. The drop in ERA… Read more »
Dave T
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Member
Dave T
“But through all of this, from World War II to today, the average score in the NFL has remained about 20 points per team per game.” This statement covers up some sizable variations in average scoring in the NFL over this period.* It is true that average NFL scoring from 1946 to 2016 has averaged 21.0 points per game per team. Here is how that breaks down by decade, including partial decades in the 2010’s and 1940’s: 2011-16 22.8 2001-10 21.3 1991-2000 20.2 1981-90 20.9 1971-80 19.3 1961-70 21.5 1951-60 21.4 1946-50 22.2 Scoring since 2011 is fully 9.0% above… Read more »
Roger McDowell Hot Foot
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Roger McDowell Hot Foot
This is profoundly dumb. You realize, indeed you concede repeatedly, that the way the game is played has changed and is changing — but you insist, indeed you foot-stompingly assert repeatedly, that “baseball abides.” Does this assertion even have semantic content at all? Suppose you’re talking to a fan who enjoys, say, the scrappy running game necessitated by a lot of ground balls and sloppy defense; are you really going to tell that fan they’re not allowed to think the current era will provide them with less entertainment? They’re supposed to just say “baseball abides” and be okay with the change?… Read more »
sadtrombone
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sadtrombone
I strongly agree with this. If anything, the author quite convincingly demonstrates that there have been major changes, and that these tend to correspond with different eras. My favorite one is the steroid era (which not coincidentally, is where I think most sabermetricians have severe ideological blinders). The evidence that there is no steroid era is that both pitchers and hitters took steroids. So somehow, because more players took steroids, this was less of a steroid era? Wouldn’t that make it *more* of a steroid era? The author seems to relish arguing that because there is so much change, there… Read more »
mikejunt
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Member
mikejunt
I think you are mischaracterizing the steroid era arguments, and especially neglecting the point I made to you yesterday, which is that there were 2 other trends that substantially favored run scoring in baseball between 1992 and 2005: 4 expansion teams, injecting 50-60 otherwise-not-MLB-caliber pitchers into MLB across all 30 teams (every expansion era has been linked to a rise in offense, and these two were located so close together that the rise from the Rockies/Marlins expansion had not yet declined when the Dbacks/Rays expansion was added to the mix) The closing of a number of multipurpose stadiums, several of… Read more »
ThomServo
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ThomServo
You are simply making up the ‘over 50% of the increased scoring can be attributed to other factors’ line. Additionally, expansion added lower quality batters to the league just as much as lower quality pitchers. Further, pitcher friendly fields and design changes have also been added in recent decades, although I agree that the trend has been towards offense friendly parks and that this did impact scoring and HR rates- but the ‘over 50%’ number is simply made up. Again, it is also not true that most teams did not have strength coaches in the 80s, nor did most teams… Read more »
sadtrombone
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sadtrombone
I don’t think that’s relevant to what he’s arguing. What he’s arguing is that things don’t change because more things change. This is fundamentally an incorrect way of viewing the world and I cannot believe that myself and RMHF are the only ones calling him out on it. You might as well say that because the earth is revolving around the sun, the sun really revolves around the earth. Because people die, humans are truly immortal. Because my friend is sober, he really does drugs. I’m so alive, I’m really dead. This can go on forever. On the points you… Read more »
mikejunt
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Member
mikejunt

I wasn’t necessarily commenting on the article’s argument, just on your mischaracterization of my argument in the form of ‘well pitchers used too’ 😛

Roger McDowell Hot Foot
Member
Roger McDowell Hot Foot
All of this seems totally reasonable to me. But this is an argument that that era shouldn’t be called “the steroid era” as if that’s meant to monocausally attribute all of its features to The Cream and The Clear (an argument with which, I should say, I entirely agree; let’s just call it the Dinger Era, instead) — and it’s not at all (as the author of this piece would apparently, in his fuzzy-headed way, have it) an argument that there WAS no specific era then, when all those guys hit all those dingers, that had any distinguishing features, because… Read more »
Paul G.
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Member
Paul G.

About the PEDs, pitchers were using them because they thought that they received some benefit from them. It does not follow the benefit to the pitchers was equivalent to the benefit to the hitters. If, to throw out numbers that are completely made up, PEDs made pitchers 5% more effective and batters 20% more effective, then PEDs were boosting the offense. I suppose it could be 10%/10% or 15%/5% or some other ratio, but assuming it is a negligible factor without further evidence is not recommended.

Paul G.
Member
Member
Paul G.

Also, I will say that your larger point that the sport is a game of adjustments is obviously true. If teams are going to make it difficult to hit ground balls for productive results, you will see less ground balls, which is exactly what we are seeing now. People act upon incentives and those that refuse or cannot do so will suffer or will be replaced.

Las Vegas Wildcards
Member
Las Vegas Wildcards

We also have to factor in travel, and playing doubleheaders, when comparing 1922 with today. Modern players are accustomed to traveling in luxury across the country with the best accommodations. Asking them to use trains, and not having elite hotels would be a big deal. And today’s players have complained about having one doubleheader in an indoor stadium. The uproar would be huge over playing multiple doubleheaders in wool uniforms.

Marc Schneider
Member
Marc Schneider

Back in the day of trains, there was much less travel involved. There were no teams on the West Coast or the south; in fact, the farthest west/south MLB city was St. Louis. So the players didn’t travel as much. And I don’t think train travel in those days was so bad; in a lot of ways, traveling on a train was probably more pleasant and restful that flying cross-country in bad weather, even if flying in essentially first class.

rubesandbabes
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rubesandbabes
“If increased strength gave hitters such a decisive advantage, then why did pitchers continue to dope? If pitchers throwing hard led to more home runs, then why in the mini-Dead Ball trough of 2010 to 2015 were home runs scarce and pitches faster than ever? And more importantly, why are there more home runs and almost just as high ERAs now, in an era ostensibly not marred by rampant PED use?” Ha ha ha – author very confused..keep trying! Thanks so much your baseball fanaticism and thanks also for using the word ostensibly for cover! Is there really any question… Read more »
ThomServo
Member
ThomServo

If you had written an article entitled ‘PEDs, steroids and HGH still shown to affect baseball,’ and provided regression analysis related to proven PED use and increase in velocity and HR rates, analyzing known users like Bonds, Clemens, Braun, Gordon, Cabrera, etc., you would likely get a word from your editor.

It simply has always been part of sports journalism to look the other way on these matters.

showbox
Member

Nice one brief explanation about juiced ball conspiracies and things.

soaktherich
Member
Member
soaktherich

Managers did not “[begin] to use the Ted Williams shift on non-Ted Williams players in the early 2010s.” I recently watched Game 7 of the 1971 World Series on YouTube, in which the Pirates used an infield shift on all of Boog Powell’s and Ellie Hendricks’s ABs. Their only resemblance to Ted Williams is that they were dead pull hitters.