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10 of the last 16 PED suspensions were pitchers

Apr 20, 2010, 5:15 PM EDT

Edinson Volquez headshot.jpgMaury Brown has a list of all of the PED suspensions since the drug testing regime came into play. There have been sixteen major and minor league players suspended for drugs in 2010 (all but Volquez were minor leaguers actually).  Of those, ten were pitchers. Indeed, since the advent of drug testing, the majority of drug suspensions have been pitchers.

Why then, do we continue to discount all of the offensive records that were set during the Steroids Era, and say so little about the pitching marks? Or, for that matter, why don’t we think of the offensive marks as greater, as opposed to lesser accomplishments, given that they were achieved against pitchers who were cheating at higher rates than hitter were?

My guess: people have a much greater sentimental attachment to the slugging records, the most significant of which were last set in the era of Maris, Mantle and Aaron (i.e. when the modern outraged sportswriter was a kid), so that it’s much more satisfying to assume that the new sluggers are the illegitimate ones, not the pitchers.

Going just by the numbers, however, it seems that the juiced hitters who have become the receptacle of our collective scorn were facing an awful lot of juiced pitchers.

  1. Bombo - Apr 20, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Gee, better let them all into the Hall, then. Yawn.

  2. Rays fan - Apr 20, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    1st, my own bias: I don’t think records are comparable across eras, so don’t really “get” the sentimental attachment to some of them. On the one hand, pre-integration players never faced some of the best pitchers because they happened to be African American. Expansion over the past 40 years, on the other hand, has resulted in pitchers on MLB rosters that would never have made it out of the minors in earlier decades. Add to that lower pitching mounds, body armor, pitchers getting thrown out/suspended/fined for throwing knock down pitches, etc & the game in 1998 or 2003 just isn’t the same as in 1975 or 1961 or 1927.
    I think it’s possible that the pitchers on the juice were also more likely to rely on their fastballs–bad fastball + higher bat speed due to the hitter juicing = ball flies even farther.

  3. Matthew - Apr 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    A sample size of 16 is a little weak.

  4. Peabody - Not Sherm - Apr 20, 2010 at 5:44 PM

    Are you tired or bored?
    Let the most qualified of the Steroid Era in, like they vote the best of any era in. But document for history what was happening during this time. Pitchers, as well as hitters. Some caught using, others under suspicion. Others, seemingly, above reproach.
    Remember, they’re not being nominated for sainthood.

  5. Lawrence From Plattekill - Apr 20, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    What pitching records were broken by pitchers on PEDs?

  6. Sparky - Apr 20, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    I suspect the reason the defensive side of the ball doesn’t get more PE scrutiny is that there are a couple of practical realities that make it a tougher story to market. First, there wasn’t a pitching record that was shattered that was emblematic of the era in the way the HR record was. Changes in the culture of the game have put the records for Ws and IP and ERA so far afield that the PE-enhanced pitcher performances simply didn’t stand out (from a historical perspective) the way the suspected PE-enhanced offensive performances did. Second, pitchers are are more variable in performance in the first place. We tend to accept fluke years and luck years from pitchers more readily than from offensive performers. This works to counteract people drawing conclusions about pitchers’ career seasons the way they do to about Brady Anderson’s fabled 50 HR year.

  7. Ed - Apr 20, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    No pitchers who have been associated with PED have broken famous records. Most of the pitchers who have put up historically significant numbers (Pedro, Maddux) have neither been associated with steroid use, nor do they seem to fit the profile of users (by which I mean, they don’t LOOK all muscled-up), so we give them the benefit of the doubt. If either of those names shows up on a list, there will be plenty of blame to go around. Roger Clemens hasn’t exactly earned a free pass, you know?
    What I don’t get is why you so insist on the hypocrisy or stupidity of people who are upset about steroid use. Do you think it impossible that a decent, intelligent person would be bothered by all the cheating? If so, you’re wrong.

  8. Ed - Apr 20, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Right, I forgot Eric Gagne. Obviously, 84 consecutive saves is a big deal (though nowhere near Aaron’s 755). Here’s an experiment for you: Now that he’s retired, see how many stories about him you can find that mention that record but NOT his steroid use. It bothers us when pitchers cheat too. And again, we are not just morons and hypocrites.

  9. CharlieH - Apr 20, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Your logic is, as always Craig, Flawless. Ha. Is it possible that a lot of players took PEDs hoping to have an improvement in their performances and the PEDs just didn’t work for them. Is it possible that, for instance, PEDs worked a lot better for players swinging a bat than they did for someone pitching a ball. PEDs might have helped players recover from injurys faster, might have prolonged some players careers, and combined with something else might have helped players bulk and muscle up more so they could hit more homeruns. But what do I know, probably pure coincidence. Just because we witness something happen does that make it real. Probably.

  10. scatterbrian - Apr 20, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    There really aren’t as many notable pitching records as there are hitting records. You have Nolan Ryan’s career strikeouts, which seems pretty untouchable though Unit and Clemens gave it a good run. Cy Young’s 511 career wins and Old Hoss Radbourn’s 59 wins in 1884 are probably more permanent than a tattoo. Even if you go more modern era, most starting pitchers won’t even have enough starts in a season to beat Denny McLain’s 31 wins in 1968. The bottom line is fans don’t really even know those numbers. We all know 61 and 755.

  11. The Common Man - Apr 20, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Craig, I think there’s a cognitive resonance between the idea of steroids (presumably taking something to making you stronger) and hitting a baseball (stronger=farther). PED use is a little less easy to intuitively resolve with the act of pitching, because pitching is more complex than see ball, mash ball.

  12. Shouldn'tHave - Apr 20, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    Surly ye jest, Beau.

  13. Charles Gates - Apr 20, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    PED use is a little less easy to intuitively resolve with the act of pitching, because pitching is more complex than see ball, mash ball.
    Yes, but we know that steroids don’t directly make you a better baseball player. They decrease the recovery time your muscles need so you can workout harder/more often. That’s what leads to the bulk. But what if you didn’t train for a ginormous stature, but for stamina instead — like something a pitcher would need. Methinks that might keep the zip on a fastball into the later innings, as an example of a steroids related pitching benefit.
    So yes, physiologically speaking, pitching might be a bit more complex than hitting, but the ability to unnaturally enhance physical conditioning certainly has tangible benefits to both sides of the matchup.

  14. Joey B - Apr 21, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    “Why then, do we continue to discount all of the offensive records that were set during the Steroids Era, and say so little about the pitching marks? Or, for that matter, why don’t we think of the offensive marks as greater, as opposed to lesser accomplishments, given that they were achieved against pitchers who were cheating at higher rates than hitter were?
    …..
    Going just by the numbers, however, it seems that the juiced hitters who have become the receptacle of our collective scorn were facing an awful lot of juiced pitchers.”
    1-Craig, you might be the only person of the 300,000,000 in this country not to realize that no serious pitching records were broken.
    2-Did you check out the list of suspensions? Except for Volquez, I’m not sure anyone on that list has a ML win.
    3-Even including all known or suspected users, you still have almost no known pitchers. On the pitching side, you have Clemens, Pettitte, Gagne and couple of unknowns. On the hitting side, it’s Bonds, Sosa, ARod, Mac, Raffy, Manny, Sheffield, Canseco, Gonzo, Giambi. If 300 wins = 500 HRs, then you have one pitcher and 7 hitters.
    I understand it is your purpose in life to defend the cheaters, but you need to bring your A game. Citing 9 minor league pitchers as a defense of steroid users won’t cut it.

  15. scatterbrian - Apr 21, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    That wasn’t an arbitrary list. Those are the dudes who have been caught in 2010. Not Craig’s fault if none have a ML win or that 9 are minor leaguers or whatever your beef is…

  16. Joey B - Apr 21, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    “That wasn’t an arbitrary list. Those are the dudes who have been caught in 2010. Not Craig’s fault if none have a ML win or that 9 are minor leaguers or whatever your beef is…”
    Then I’ll explain it.
    Craig said this:
    “Why then, do we continue to discount all of the offensive records that were set during the Steroids Era,”
    So he is saying that we should not discount the hitting records, based on the fact that 9 minor leaguers and one pro with 24 career victories were busted. What does one have to do with the other? Bonds has never faced any of these guys. The implication is that Bonds would have fared better against these guys had they not taken PEDs, even though he never faced them. Makes no sense.

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