Carleton: Rage over ‘roids

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on August 16, 2016:

We live in a time that will likely be remembered by some—unofficially, of course—as the Steroid Era in baseball. Beginning in the 1990s when offensive production and reported uses of steroids, some later confirmed, went way up. With the publishing of the Mitchell Report in 2007, which detailed oodles of allegations against players that they used performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids. Even now, 20ish (gulp) years removed from those halcyon days when flannel was a thing, they’re apparently still around. We still see players testing positive for the use of PEDs, even though everyone knows that there’s a testing program in place.

The thing about being 20 years in is that now, in addition to policing the current game, we have to do the Hall of Fame thing. You can bet that once again, everything will come to a head again in January during Hall of Fame voting season. The past few years, we’ve seen the likes of Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire, players who generally have pretty clear Hall of Fame cases, but who have either admitted to or been suspected of PED use. There are the #NeverBonds folks who won’t vote for anyone implicated and the PED agnostics who wave a hand at it all, but then there are some in the middle who try to answer the question “What would he have been like without steroids? If… he did them.”

And yes, in five or six years, the recently released Alex Rodriguez will be joining the Hall of Fame ballot. Absent Rodriguez’s own previous admission that he used PEDs, he would be an easy first-ballot inductee. In fact, if 60 WAR gets you into the conversation for the Hall of Fame, then Rodriguez nearly had two Hall of Fame careers. But… what would that career have looked like without PEDs? What would the 90s have looked like? How much of a difference do steroids actually make.

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Originally published: August 16, 2016. Last Updated: August 16, 2016.