Running Local

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Posts Tagged ‘barry bonds’

Alex Rodriguez Comes Clean

Posted by Bob Kohm on February 9, 2009

So, sometimes the least likely– and most correct– outcome is what comes to pass. Alex Rodriguez has just come clean and admitted not only to using steroids in 2003, the year that he tested positive in supposedly confidential tests, but that he started using in 2001. He relates his use of PEDs to the signing of his $252,000,000 contract with the Texas Rangers, claiming that the pressure to perform at a top level every day combined with the permissive attitude of MLB in 2001 and the stupidity of youth. He also states that he stopped using steroids in

Wonderful.

Yes, Rodriguez gets some credit for at least explicitly coming clean, going beyond what he had to do by admitting that he used not just in 2003, when he was tagged in the test, but also in 2001 and 2002. The easy outs are to say that he only used once and was unlucky enough to get caught in a test or to say that he only used that year. Either one of those would’ve been sufficient and indeed have been used many times by other players; Rodriguez did more. Good for him.

That being said, he is forever tarnished in the eyes of any serious baseball fan. That Rodriguez used steroids in three of his better years– years in which he hit 52, 57, and 47 home runs, respectively– puts question marks on everything else he did, too. Rodriguez claims that he stopped using in 2003– a plausible claim given that he got nailed in a test and apparently was informed as such by Gene Orza of the Player’s Union.

Rodriguez’ numbers were extremely good in 2001 through ’03, his admitted steroid years, but they also weren’t the best of his career. Using one of the more accurate metrics by which statheads can measure offensive performance, OPS+, we can see many better years for Rodriguez. For my readers who aren’t also readers at RotoJunkie.com, OPS+ is broken out as On Base Percentage plus Slugging Percentage measured against league average, with the league average being represented as 100. During his three Rangers/steroids years, Rodriguez’ OPS+ were 160, 158, & 147– all fantastic, without question. In 1996, his second full year, his OPS+ was also 160. In 2000, his last year in Seattle, it was 162. With the Yankees in 2005 ARod’s OPS+ was 170 and in 2007 his OPS+ was a ludicrous 177.

More interestingly, when you look at Rodriguez’ numbers during his Texas/steroid years, they show something very interesting– a declining trendline.

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB
 2001 25 TEX AL 162  632  133  201  34  1  52  135  18  3  75 131  .318  .399  .622  160  393
 2002 26 TEX AL 162  624  125  187  27  2  57  142   9  4  87 122  .300  .392  .623  158  389
 2003 27 TEX AL 161  607  124  181  30  6  47  118  17  3  87 126  .298  .396  .600  147  364 

During those Texas/steroid years, Rodriguez’ OPS+, his value relative to the league, remained very high but fell each year, especially notable as Rodriguez had moved to one of the best parks for hitters in the American League. If you look at these three years as the peak of the steroid era, the last years in which steroid usage wasn’t specifically punishable in the Majors, we can see American League OPS+ leaders Jason Giambi (198 in 2001), Jim Thome (197 in 2002), and Carlos Delgado (161 in 2003) with Barry Bonds going 259/268/231 in those same years to lead the NL. All of these guys have at least been rumored to have been steroid users, as well.

It is similarly acknowledged that the Steroid Era curtailed in the years after 2003, with testing and penalties now becoming mandatory. As you look at these years, something becomes very evident– the yearly OPS+ leaders, the standouts relative to their respective leagues, say within the realm of reality. No longer do you see the insane 200+ numbers of Barry Bonds after 2004, nor do you see the 195+ numbers of Jason Giambi– you see numbers in the 160 – 180 range in the AL and the same in the NL with the exception of Albert Pujols’ super-human (perhaps literally, if you believe the steroid rumors) 190 in 2008. What this tells us is that the disparity between the juicers of the ’90s and early part of this decade has started to disappear as even the standout players aren’t so far above the average players as to make the eyes goggle. In that time, Alex Rodriguez has posted his two best OPS+ years– his 2005 & 2007 seasons in New York– and played them, allegedly and perhaps quite believably, clean. It does lend some credence to his statement today that after using ‘roids for a few years, he realized that he didn’t need them to perform.

I will never be able to look at ARod the same way again, which is particularly painful as I am a die-hard, lifelong Yankee fan and my five year old loves ARod. He cheated, plain and simple, and at the very least I could never bring myself to look at his numbers from 2001-2003 as part of any career tally, which is huge when you consider that barring injury it’s almost a fait accompli that Rodriguez will blow away Barry Bonds’ career home run record. What makes that even more ironic is that Rodriguez is absolutely right– going from the King Dome and Safeco Field, two fields that were a nightmare for hitters to the launching pad that is the Ball Park at Arlington/Ameriquest/Whatever it’s called now, one of the statistically best places for a home run hitter to play– Rodriguez could’ve put up those numbers or ones nearly indistinguishable without steroids. Most players will tell you that the effect steroids have on hitting home runs is that they let you hit the ball further; for a guy with Rodriguez’ natural talent level going into the Texas homerun haven, that boost probably didn’t make a hell of a lot of difference. In Seattle, they would’ve upped his numbers. In Texas, the gains would have been marginal. Did I recently write that nothing is ever simple with this guy?

Going forward, Rodriguez should continue to be one of the great players in the league and one of the greatest in the history of the game.

Sadly, he can never be credited accordingly. He doesn’t deserve to be.

Posted in Baseball, Cultural Phenomena, Jerks | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The First Running Local Subway Rat Award

Posted by Bob Kohm on February 2, 2009

rat22Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated has always struck me as a whiny sort, quick to complain about the state of the game but slow to write anything that meaningfully explores it. As it turns out, he had a vested interest in not exploring it.

Rich Lederer at Baseball Analysts (h/t to River Ave. Blues) has a piece up today revealing a series of interesting coincidences in which Heyman breaks the news of a major signing and crows about his scoop, but all of the players signed are represented by one agent– Scott Boras. Jason Varitek, Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, ARod– Boras clients all, all of their signings, opt-outs and trades broken by Heyman.

Sources are great, but something darker is going on here– Heyman is selling Boras his column space in SI. John Heyman is a tool in every sense of the word– a prominent whiner about player salaries working for Scott Boras. Not only does Heyman break these stories, he also spends a good deal of his time pumping out what are now clearly seen as false rumors to stoke the demand for Boras clients. While you and I as fans like to think that the Brian Cashmans and Billy Beanes of the world are hooked into a world of baseball insider information, they are looking at the papers and tubes as much as we are to try to get a read on what’s happening in the marketplace. If Casman reads that Teixeira is moving into the Red Sox orbit, he must up his bid. If Boras wants his client in Los Angeles in July, Heyman starts talking about what a good fit the player is for the Dodgers and then creates a crisis  by reporting that sources have the Giants or the Padres in talks with the current owners of the player for a trade.

Jon Heyman has been corrupted by the very system he likes to exclaim is corrupt. There’s an irony there, but it is drowned out by the cloying odor of Heyman’s duplicity.

Sports Illustrated also takes  a well deserved hit here, quick on the heels of SI scribbler Tom Verducci’s involvement in Joe Torre’s managerial suicide. It seems they may need a new editor overseeing their baseball coverage– but only if they want to enjoy a reputation for integrity. That may well seem an unaffordable luxury to SI these days.

Anyway, to John Heyman I award the first official Running Local Subway Rat. Enjoy the company, Jon.

Posted in Baseball, Jerks, Running Local Subway Rats | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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