Defending Brady Anderson

I could write a book about Brady Anderson.

I feel terrible for the guy. It’s not that we’re accusing him of having taken steroids. I have no problem speculating. Joe Posnanski wrote a piece where he compiled lists of players we strongly suspect used, players who probably used, and players who adhered to “fair play.” I think it’s fair to pass conjecture on any of the players Posnanski places on the strongly suspected list. I’ve heard the “guilty until proven innocent” rationale used before to defend these players, mainly in the case of Barry Bonds. Of course, that defense only applies in the court of law, and since there’s no reason for Bonds to be taken to a trial, then it is our prerogative to come up with a verdict using whatever available evidence is at our disposal. The evidence rather conclusively shows that Bonds used steroids. For the “fair play” list, I take issue with the thought that David Eckstein and Jamie Moyer never used, but whatever, nobody’s name on that list is getting libeled.

I feel terrible for Brady Anderson because we’re accusing him of being an idiot. Posnanski writes “We all know that Anderson famously hit 50 home runs in 1996, and he never hit more than 24 home runs in any other season.” OK…

Do fans actually believe that you can determine if a player took steroids by simply studying the number of home runs he hit? And why should one outlier season increase the probability that he took steroids? Because he only used PEDs for that one year? Do you think steroids can actually add that much power to a player’s bat? Do you have any idea how steroids work? 34 homers? Are you kidding? And then what? So here’s what you’re telling me:

It’s fall of 1996, and Anderson, having realized the magic of performance enhancing drugs, is coming off a 50-homer year. He’s heading into his final year with the Orioles before he hits free agency. But he comes to the decision that he doesn’t want to be remembered as a cheat, so he dramatically throws all his pills and vials into the trash, possibly with the help of an intervention from Zack Morris. So Brady hits 18 homers in 1997, but he does it clean. Or maybe you think that he didn’t have a moral renaissance. You just think he wasn’t smart enough to realize he could have been the most prolific home run hitter in baseball had he continued down the path of Bonds. Remember, in your world, Barry Bonds was not the greatest player of the 1990s. That was Ken Griffey Jr. Bonds only became great because of the juice. In your world, Saved by the Bell is a go-to television show reference.

Let’s review. You’ve constructed this scenario where the guy takes PEDs for a year and posts a superhuman .637 slugging percentage. That’s the only year in your scenario where he uses steroids, and he regresses the following year, in the process forfeiting millions of dollars, as this is his contract year. So in your scenario, he comes clean, as he realizes that compromising his moral values isn’t worth the fame and money. But instead of being a hero for this, you’re here to lambaste the guy. You know the truth, and you want everyone to know that he cheated in 1996, which to you invalidates his entire career accomplishments. To you, he’s the poster-boy for meaningless home runs in the Steroid Era, even though you believe he only took steroids for one year.

I have no idea whether or not Anderson took steroids. He’s denied it, but a lot of players who take steroids don’t cop to. I do know that Anderson was a very good ballplayer with one spectacular season. Unfortunately, we’re belittling his career achievements because of that one spectacular season. We’re making character judgments on him, saying that he either lost his backbone for one year by succumbing to the allure of steroids, or he wasn’t smart enough to realize the impact steroids had on his batting numbers. Let’s not insult the guy.


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16 Comments on "Defending Brady Anderson"

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casper
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casper
If that’s his opinion, then that’s his opinion. Anderson isn’t being taken to trial, he’s simply being looked at curiously for being such an anolamous member of the 50-homer club. I mean, seriously – you really think Posnaski is the only one that thinks this about Anderson? Doubtful. Hell, it’s HIGHLY doubtful that it’s only Posnaski that thinks this, so it’s hard to swallow your allegation of Posnaski “constructing the scenario.” Further, just because someone thinks that Anderson could have followed this storyline offers no implication that the person who thinks this about Anderson is attempting to insult Anderson’s intelligence.… Read more »
Jeremy Greenhouse
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Jeremy Greenhouse

Mike, he broke the law multiple times. That doesn’t mean there’s reason to take him to trial, in my opinion.

Casper, I can’t tell if that’s satire.

lincolndude
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lincolndude

Hmm, tried to comment but it thought I was spam…

Anyway, I agree completely, and think that the reaction to Anderson is just one aspect of the arbitrary and unfair judgment that a lot of the commentary on this subject puts down.

There’s just no systematic and meaningful way of deciding who did and didn’t use.

And there have been other outliers just like Brady Anderson: Maris and Wilson, as Posnanski mentions, but also Davey Johnson, who hit 43 one year and never higher than 18 in any other.

Matt
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Matt
Just looking over Anderson’s career after reading this post . . . those 50 homers in ‘96 do stick out, of course, but equally striking to me was his sudden improvement in ‘92, his age 28 season. Prior to that he’d put together four almost identical seasons of half-time (234-325 AB) play, during which he batted between .207-.231, with 1-4 homers each year and a cumulative slash line of .219/.306/.313. His OPS did creep up somewhat over this period—- .558, .636, .635, .662—- but a guy who puts up those #s with fairly consistent PT during his age 24-27 seasons… Read more »
Jim
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Jim
Some thoughts on Brady: 1.  Thomas Boswell covered the Orioles on a daily basis in 1996.  Boswell has never been shy on the steroid issue (he publicly called out Jose Canseco in 1988).  He has said repeatedly that, based on his daily interactions with the team, he does not believe that Anderson was using steroids. 2.  Anderson was well known in Baltimore to have been a health nut, who consumed all kinds of mysterious potions.  Many of them were presumably legal dietary supplements.  Some of them may not have been.  Only Brady knows, and he ain’t saying. 3.  Anderson’s 1992… Read more »
Mike
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Mike
Scott Moore has impressed the Orioles in spring training. He got off to a sizzling start at Norfolk last year. The only issues have been roster space and that thumb, which he first injured in 2008. I’ll have more from…Moore…later this morning. We chatted briefly last night and he told me that he worked out with Brady Anderson in the Los Angeles area. They focused on Moore’s conditioning, of course, but also his hitting. Just lay off that high fastball with Cal Ripken on deck. Anderson turned 46 last month, but Moore discovered that the former Orioles center fielder is… Read more »
James
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James
Great post Jim! Your #4 point is on target.  He mixed some kind of steroid into his normal routine and it helped for a time but had some adverse effects.  It does make the most sense to me anyway. The fact that everyone thinks that he took them one year and stopped ONLY because of the stats is funny though, since what if he just realized that it was a red flag and stopped??? Who knows. I’m just tired of the appologists and writers who refuse to accuse players because they “might” be wrong.  Chances are most of the players… Read more »
MikeS
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MikeS
“…there’s no reason for Bonds to be taken to a trial…” I believe that receiving and taking prescription medication without a prescription is against the law.  As is taking controlled substances for which no prescription exists.  As is conspiring with a physician to receive and use drugs for indications other than their intended use.  These are the same laws that people taking illegal narcotics (cocaine, heroine, marijuana etc.)or those taking legal narcotics (oxycodone, hydromorphone, codeine, etc.) for recreational purposes are prosecuted under.  Not to mention perjury if he ever lied about it under oath.  So if he did the things… Read more »
Jeremy Not Greenhouse
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Jeremy Not Greenhouse

Oh, gosh, I just looked again and realized I share a first name with the author of this article! I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to cause confusion with my comment last night (this morning) at 1:30 am PST. I’m not the author of the article. John K, thanks for the well-considered comments. smile

James
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James
Jeremy, Great example on Davey Johnson.  Very similar to Brady, except that I believe Davey was hurt through out the year he hit 5 HR and was more likely to hit 15-20 in his prime so he basically doubled his top season to 43 which is suspicious yes. There were steriods in the 70s with Football players and of course Weight lifters, so it is not impossible that a few baseball players experimented in 70s.  However the craziness to me started in the 80s when all of the sudden the players started bulking up.  Remember 1987 when everyone and their… Read more »
Jeremy
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Jeremy

Okay, James, let make sure I understand you:

Brady Anderson going from 16 to 50 home runs is clear evidence of steroid use.

Davey Johnson going from 5 to 43 home runs is clear evidence of clean play.

Is that about right?

Neil
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Neil
On Eckstein, etc. – it’s harder to fault them and even harder to know, but I agree that we can’t dismiss the guys who didn’t hit home runs. I remember Canseco making the claim that the marginal players were heavy users, that there were many more guys taking steroids because they couldn’t crack the big leagues and were now just above replacement-level than there were guys who were average and became stars. Which is to say that it someone like Eckstein doesn’t get a pass just because he never hit 40 homers. Steroids don’t turn everyone into power hitters –… Read more »
John K
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John K
Jeremy, good thoughts. It’s amazing to me that anything that seems out of the ordinary in the last 20 years is immediately lambasted towards steroids. Baseball is the sport of stats, and anything that doesn’t fit into a nicely congealed bell curve is the obvious sign of cheating. So obviously, Maris, Ruth, Aaron, (and even Davey Johnson), are part of the bell curve, but Brady must have been cheating, because nobody in that era could have such a season out of proportion. Apparently 16=>50 is more a sign of steroids than 9=>28 (missing a month). I don’t know if Brady… Read more »
King Kaufman
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King Kaufman

“one of the world’s great head-scratchers, like the international prominence of the Dutch empire in the 17th century and Lyle Lovett’s marriage to Julia Roberts.”

This is unnecessarily harsh. I think Julia Roberts is kinda cute.

James
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James

King,

That is the point.  Lyle Lovett is not wink

Jon
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Jon
There’s some good comments here on this thread.  In my opinion, based on the huge number of people using steroids and the uncertainty of who did and who didn’t, we need to accept steroid use as a part of the game’s history.  Just move on to the game as it is today.  There is so much that is likely tainted, if you want to use that word.  The heart of the 2004 Red Sox lineup was taking PEDs (at least they were in 2003), the chase of ‘98 obviously wasn’t clean… what else?  Unless you were a baseball fan before… Read more »
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