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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sudden increase in home runs by an individual: obsession unique to MLB.

Some suspect batters of using performance enhancing stuff if the batter has a sudden increase in home runs.  This seems to be interpreted as going from a previous high of about 25 to 40.

Here are some batters with such increases.

Babe Ruth: 11, 29 (new record), 54 (new record 1920) in consecutive seasons.

Rogers Hornsby: 21, 42 (1922).

Ken Williams: 24, 39 (1922 at age 32).

Cy Williams: 26, 41 (1923 at age 35).

Lou Gehrig: 27, 47 (1927).

Chuck Klein: 11, 43 (1929) first full season.

Joe DiMaggio: 29, 46 (1937) in his first two seasons.

Johnny Mize: 28, 43 (1940).

Ralph Kiner: 23, 51 (1946) in his first two seasons.

Eddie Mathews: 25, 47 (1953) in his first two seasons.

Ted Kluszewski: 25, 40 (1953).  Then 49, 47.

Willie Mays: 20, 41, 51 (1955) in his first three full seasons.

Ernie Banks: 19, 44 (1955) in his first two full seasons.

Mickey Mantle: 27, 37, 52 (1956) in consecutive seasons.

Hank Aaron: 26, 44 (1957).

Rocky Colavito: 25, 41 (1958).

Harmon Killebrew: 5, 42 (1959) first full season.

Roger Maris: 28, 39, 61 (new record 1961).

Orlando Cepeda: 27, 46 (1961).

Willie McCovey: 20, 44 (1963).

Carl Yastrzemski: 20, 44 (1967 Red Sox).

Rico Petrocelli: 18, 40 (1969 Red Sox).

Reggie Jackson: 29, 47 (1969) in first two full seasons.

Johnny Bench: 26, 45 (1969).

Davey Johnson: 18, 40 (1973 Braves).

Darrell Evans: 19, 41 (1973 Braves).

George Foster: 29, 52 (1977).

Kevin Mitchell: 22, 47 (1989).

Cecil Fielder: 14, 51 (1990) first full season.

Some above are career home run leaders.  Some are not.  All reached 40 in at least one season.   That's enough to demonstrate that there are many examples not in the steroid era, roughly 1990 to the present.  That does not mean that these players should be above suspicion.  See:


Those 1973 Atlanta Braves: was there something in the water?

At age 30, Baltimore second baseman Davey Johnson joined the Atlanta Braves and hit 43 home runs. His previous high had been 18 at age 28.

Everyone assumed this was due to Johnson playing his home games in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, which was supposed to be conducive to home run hitting. However, Johnson hit 26 at home and 17 on the road. 17 is only one fewer than Johnson's previous high for a season. Why did Johnson have such a big power surge? ...

Teammate Darrell Evans played his first 7 seasons with Atlanta. In 1972 at age 25, Evans hit 19 home runs. In 1973 Evans hit 41 home runs: 24 home, 17 road. Very similar to Johnson.

I heard Duke Snider in later years refer to something he called red juice as some performance enhancer that was available when he played. Aaron has admitted to trying something late in his career.

Noticeably absent are the three poster boys for performance enhancing success:

Barry Bonds: 16, 25, 24, 19, 33, 25, 34, 46 ... 49, 73.

Mark McGwire: 49, 32, 33, 39, 22, 42, 9, 9, 39, 52, 58, 70, 65, 32, 29.

Sammy Sosa: 15, 10, 8, 33, 25, 36, 40, 36, 66, 63, 50, 64, 49, 40, 35, 14, 21.

Both Bonds and Sosa had gradual increases to 40.  McGwire started out by challenging the record in 1987, his rookie season; McGwire had 33 home runs in his first 80 games in 1987.

Do I think that Bonds, McGwire and Sosa used performance enhancing stuff?  Of course.  I also think that Nolan Ryan used performance enhancing stuff, too.  And Roger Clemens.  And many other pitchers.  Please read this post:


Steroids are only an issue for home runs.

The NFL record for points scored in a season was broken in 2006 after standing since 1960 when Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers scored 176 points ... Does anyone think that Paul Hornung was using steroids? Maybe, but probably not. Does anyone think that the guy who broke his record in 2006 was using steroids? Almost definitely? Where is the outrage?

In case it is not obvious, let me drive home the point.  Hornung set that record one year before Maris set the home record and Hornung's record was broken in 2006 by LaDainian Tomlinson, eight years after the Maris record was broken by McGwire.  Nobody and I mean nobody got worked up about steroids in the NFL.  Why all the concern about MLB and specifically about home runs?  It's completely irrational.

70 home runs offends people like Bob Costas as cartoonish as he stated again yesterday on MLB network pontificating about the Hall of Fame voting?  How about 5,000 yards passing?  In 2011:
Brees 5,476
Brady 5,235
Stafford: 5,038
Eli Manning 4,933

Mathew freakin' Stafford threw for 5,038 yards!  Bob Costas, is that cartoonish enough for you?  Two guys broke Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084.  Four of the top six occurred in 2011.

And what is more cartoonish among the major team sports than Babe Ruth breaking his own home record by increasing it from 29 to 54?!  That's 86% more!  McGwire increased the Maris record by only 14.7%.

But people like Bob Costas are still brooding over MLB records set ten and thirteen years ago.  Yeah, I know, baseball is special, the national pastime, blah, blah blah.  That's because people like Bob Costas still can't bring themselves to call it MLB and not baseball.  Do they refer to the NFL as football?  Of course not.

Baseball fans, writers, media, MLB corporate executives etc., grow the heck up!  Stop this ridiculous obsession.

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