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Friday, January 31, 2014

Larry Walker: would he be more suspicious to steroid zealots if he had hit 62 homers in 1997?

Larry Walker is failing to get support by Hall of Fame voting writers for two reasons:
1. suspicion that he used performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids
2. he benefited from playing home games in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado 1995-2004.

Thursday, January 30, 2014  At least 25 road homers but fewer than 50. Could they have hit 50 homers playing only on the road?

When the road HR rate is applied to total AB 39 of 59 increase to at least 50 HR led by Larry Walker in 1997 with Colorado zooming from 49 to 62, the only batter to reach 60...

The road rate applied to Maris in 1961 would have reduced him from 61 to 59.
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In case you were wondering about Mark McGwire in 1997: he would have dropped from 58 home runs (HR) to 52.  See:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014  50 homers home/road splits. How many would they hit without their home park?

Maris drops from 61 to 59.  Roger never gets a break.  The Babe is sitting pretty at 60 because his home/road splits in 1927 were almost identical.
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Walker had 51% (4,076/8,030) of his plate appearances (PA) as a members of the Colorado Rockies.  32% (2,531/8,030) of his PA were in Colorado; 30 in Mile High Stadium, the rest in Coors Field, some of which may have been as a visiting member of the St. Louis Cardinals 2004-2005.

Suppose that Walker had played only in road parks in 1997 and hit 62 HR.  Would that help or hurt him with steroid zealots?

1. Larry Walker would have broken the season home run record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927.
2. Walker would have done it in spite of Coors Field and the altitude of Denver.
3. Walker would have been one year ahead of McGwire and his home run race partner Sammy Sosa.

Looking only at performance in road parks does not negate the utter stupidity of the non-uniform playing areas but it provides a much better insight.  As that relates to the home run record, it's not the same for all players.  Only Walker's teammates get to play in the same home park.  And even that is not always even.

In 1961 Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were Yankee teammates, both challenging the HR record.  But Maris was a lefty batter and Mantle a switch hitter.  When batting right handed in Yankee Stadium Mantle was hitting towards a much longer distance in left, his pull field.

Mantle for his career (pitcher handedness is used because he batted righty v. righty a few times on the road):
AB/HR (lower is better)
19.51 home v. lefties
13.12 home v. righties
15.15 road v. lefties
15.33 road v. righties

Mantle (bold is career best):
YearTotvLhomevLroadvRhomevRroad
19619.523.010.76.99.1

Maris in 1961: 9.3 home, 10 road.  Maris was much more balanced than most tend to think.

Steroid zealots are concerned almost exclusively with the home record and even there only with a count, not an average per AB or some form of HR+ in which difficulty of era and park in HR hitting are considered.  Truth, justice and the American way (Superman) are used as excuses for their protecting a record that is ridiculous.

Home run records are ridiculous because they are a count of long hits over walls of different distances and different heights even in the same park.  It's completely ridiculous!  The non-uniform playing areas undermine the integrity of baseball much more than players using PED.  Non-uniform playing areas undermine and make ridiculous the most cherished record in American team sports, the home run.

Note the lack of concern about players who used performance decreasing drugs, legal and illegal.

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