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Wojciechowski: the Giants won the world series because Barry Bonds was gone

Mar 15, 2011, 4:57 PM EDT

Barry Bonds first pitch NLCS

ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski has made a mini-career out of moralizing about steroids in baseball.  Sure, lots of guys do that, but Wojciechowski isn’t exactly the straightest shooter in the bunch. Indeed, between Wojciechowski’s crocodile tears and his casual intellectual dishonesty, he’s basically the Glenn Beck of the steroids beat.

Once he beat up on steroids users, equating them with guys who gambled on baseball games and wondering why their punishments weren’t equal. What he didn’t do, however, was point out that there was, you know, an actual rule on the books specifying how gamblers shall be punished and there wasn’t one at the time about what to do with pre-testing steroids users. Oh, and in that same report he chastised Mark McGwire for not talking to the media when, in fact, McGwire had spent an entire week doing nothing but talking to the media, including Wojciechowski’s own ESPN colleagues.

Another time he waxed all emotional about how his trust will be betrayed and his innocence lost if he found out that Derek Jeter was found to be juicing because of the whole Yankee pride thing, without mentioning the fact that a whole bunch of Yankees were named in the Mitchell Report.  It was a dramatic tour de force. Really it was.

The latest entry on his big chalk board: the 2010 Giants would never have won the World Series if Barry Bonds was on the team:

Barry Bonds helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series last season. And he could help them win it again this season.  How? Because he’s not a Giant anymore.  When Bonds and his toxic presence was finally removed by the hazmat people after the 2007 season, the Giants began to win more games. Not a lot at first, but enough to realize that Bonds’ forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise’s windpipe. The Giants could finally breathe again.

And it goes on and on like that, transitioning into a meditation on the Giants’ great team chemistry.

To which I’d ask: does Woj actually believe that Barry Bonds in his prime — and for that matter, Barry Bonds during his ascendancy or his decline — wouldn’t have done more to help the Giants win the World Series last year than Pat Burrell did with his 0 for 13 and 11K performance?  More generally, is it really Wojciechowski’s position that it was the existence of Barry Bonds that kept the Giants from winning the World Series between 1993 and 2007?  That, if all else were equal but Bonds gone, the Giants would have had more success, not less?

I get it: Wojciechowski hates Barry Bonds and everything he stood for. That’s great, because a lot of people do.  But it’s one thing to hate a guy and another to assert something as ridiculous as Barry Bonds presence actually hindered, rather than helped the Giants’ baseball performance. That’s simply ludicrous.

  1. lar @ wezen-ball - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Bonds is on the team in 2002. They lose the World Series. Bonds is not on the team in 2010. They win the World Series.

    Can’t explain that.

    • florida76 - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:26 PM

      We can’t ignore the fact Bonds wasn’t a good playoff performer overall in his career, and not a team leader. Regardless of how Pat Burrell played in the WS, it’s possible the Giants lose in the playoffs with Bonds.

      Ultimately, Bonds tainted and sabotaged his career by cheating. Ironically, while artificially enhancing his body to pump up his personal statistics, he couldn’t led his teams to the promised land, and has ruined his legacy.

      • solidzac - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:52 PM

        Bonds in the 2002 posteason:

        NLDS: .294 .409 .824
        NLCS: .273 .591 .727
        WS: .471 .700 1.294

        Don’t let that get in your way or anything though.

    • mjwalsh54 - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:12 PM

      I find Bonds to be the most onerous, unlikeable sports personality – any sport – in my entire lifetime. Pete Rose, Marian Jones, Mark Gastineau, Lance Armstrong, Sammy Sosa, Milton Bradley – take all of them, add them up and they don’t touch Bonds for a toxic presence.

      So while it’s a bit hard to make the actual connection Wojo makes, I’m game for it. Bonds is a jerk, and the Giants and MLB are better off wihout his bloated head and acne scarred back.

  2. natedawg321 - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    And in this particular instance, he has to literally believe that Bonds directly caused his relievers to blow a 5-run lead with 8 outs to go.

    • motherscratcher23 - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:16 PM

      If he was more of a leader that never would have happened. A leader would have chemistried them to that win.

  3. yankeesfanlen - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    I’m sure BC will know what Woj is.

  4. fivetoolmike - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Yeah, I tried to read the Woj piece earlier today and I couldn’t get past that first paragraph.

  5. pisano - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    That’s horse$hit, the reason they won was they had the best pitching. Case closed

    • cur68 - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:18 PM

      Meh, you beat me to it. Pitching won it. With Bonds (circa 2002) and that pitching staff from last year? It wouldn’t even have been close. Hell, who knows, maybe Bonds last year is still a better bat than Burrell last year. Wouldn’t be hard for him to be better. He was hitting around .270 when his contract ended. GeWoj is fulla crap.

  6. apbaguy - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    The 2002 Giants rotation, Schmidt, Reuter, Livan, and Russ Ortiz was good enough to get to the playoffs but once in the World Series had a collective set of ugly outings, with Livan and Ortiz having ERA’s over 10, and Schmidt over 5. That was 6 games worth of starts with ineffective pitching.

    By contrast the 2010 Giants starters were excellent, with 2 shutouts and a 1 run game. You can’t win if you don’t score, and Texas did not score.

    How Bonds playing in 2010 would have impacted the Giants pitching is pure speculation, without foundation in fact.

  7. lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    I’m having more fun buzzing around Craig’s stuff today. “The Glenn Beck of the steroids beat” just cracked me up. Can I put in $20 as the opening silent auction bid for Craig’s chalkboard take of how Gene Woj would summon his inner Beck? I hope that someday Craig will name me the Rachel Maddow of the steroids beat. Then there were the seared scallops that Craig served earlier for breakfast, not to mention the possible unintentional pun of mentioning Barry Bonds along with “team chemistry.”

    Seriously, Craig. This is a great days’ work. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Kevin S. - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Ugh. I used to read Woj just to see how low he could sink and snark him in the comments section, but I just can’t take his self-righteous sanctimony anymore. That and his Favre-slurping. Pass, please.

  9. rapmusicmademedoit - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    I’m no fan of Bonds but this story is crap

  10. seeingwhatsticks - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Nobody can mount a high horse quite like Gene Woj.

  11. monsieurbear - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    Craig, are you aware of an actual rule stating that the punishment for gambling is to be banned from baseball, or is this outcome common law? (real question, not snark)

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:42 PM

      Baseball Rule 21(d):

      Enacted by Kennesaw Mountain Landis in 1920 and — to this day — the only baseball rule posted on the wall of every clubhouse in Major League Baseball.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

        Not that I agree that gambling should be equated with steroids (the former is so much worse than the latter, it’s not even funny), but those saying “well, punishment for gambling is on the books and steroids wasn’t” does ignore the fact that there was no punishment on the books for gambling when the Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series. Of course, Landis was a douche who, among other things, kept the color barrier up for possibly decades longer than it otherwise would have been, but there is some precedent for punishments being handed down even though they weren’t on the books.

      • Roger Moore - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:42 PM

        The rule against gambling was not enacted by Landis in 1920. It was part of the rules of baseball since before the National League was founded. It was the rule when Jim Devlin was thrown out in 1877, and it’s still the rule today.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:48 PM

        D’oh, sorry for messing that one up. Thanks for the save, Mr. Moore.

      • umrguy42 - Mar 16, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Did I miss it, or is there no listed penalty for 21(a)?

  12. casegameaj - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    The myth, truth and consequences of the Barry Bonds perjury trial

  13. lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Kevin, just to be clear, baseball expressly banned the non-prescription use of prescription drugs in 1971. Before the 1991 baseball season, anabolic steroids were added to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, making non-prescription possession of anabolic steroids a federal crime. Yes, I know it’s commonly stated that steroid use was not against the rules back in Bonds’ day, but that simply isn’t true.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:20 PM

      Actually, that’s not what I said. I said there was no punishment on the books for it. I have an issue with the draconian ex-post facto measures some have suggested for players who used during the period when baseball had effectively de-criminalized usage, and I mentioned while I didn’t think it was right then either, baseball had done a similar thing in response to the World Series being thrown.

      • lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:52 PM

        If it’s against the rules, then there’s a punishment on the books. The punishment is whatever punishment the Commissioner wants to impose. Then the Commissioner fights with the union over the punishment. Baseball tried to suspend Ferguson Jenkins for drug use in 1980; the suspension was challenged by the players’ union and overturned in arbitration. Players WERE suspended by baseball for cocaine use in the early 1980s.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:36 PM

        Commissioner’s discretion is not the same thing as there being a punishment “on the books,” and it’s telling that nobody was punished for steroids until such punishments were collectively bargained. Regardless, would you say it’s right to heavily punish players after the fact for something that was ignored at best and subtly encouraged at worst while it was actually happening?

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:51 PM

        Kevin, I think you’re getting confused between a law and sentencing guidelines. There is no “punishment on the books” for intentionally throwing at a player’s head, so does that somehow excuse a player who does it? There is no “punishment on the books” for charging the mound and instigating a brawl, so does that somehow excuse a player who does it?

        PED’s were against the rules of the game long before anyone was actually punished for using them. As far as I know the only rule that has a specific punishment is gambling but that’s not the only rule that, when broken, results in a suspension.

      • lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:56 PM

        Kevin, I think the presence of a “punishment on the books” is not as important as the existence of a rule in the books prohibiting PED use. But no matter. I agree that prior to the Mitchell Report, baseball essentially turned a blind eye to the use of anabolic steroids (comparable to the present-day attitude towards anabolic steroid use by NFL writers and fans), and that the responsibility for the so-called “steroids era” is shared by players, owners, MLB, the press and the rest of us. I am not in favor of barring known or suspected PED users from the Hall of Fame — if players like Barry Bonds are to be barred, then you also have to bar owners like George Steinbrenner and of course Bud Selig too. Is this what you’re referring to by heavily punishing players, or are you also asking what I think about the upcoming Bonds perjury trial? If it’s the latter, then I’d refer you to the terrific stuff Craig has written here about this subject.

  14. yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Do any of you in this dogpile on Wojciechowski believe Major League Baseball is now better because PED usage has been greatly diminished?

    Or do you all miss players having outlandish career years at 36 and shortstops hitting 57 homers in a season?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:49 PM

      Complete strawman. Woj isn’t being piled on for saying that steroids are bad for baseball, he’s being piled on for claiming that the greatest offensive force in baseball history would have somehow prevented the Giants from winning the World Series last year.

      • yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM

        I just asked you a question,which you felt the need to dodge.

        The greatest offensive force in baseball history?

        You mean the greatest offensive force of his own particular tainted era. He stood out among the other cheaters and those too cowed by peer pressure to expose them.

        Bonds never had a single-season slugging percentage as high as Ruth’s career slugging average prior to his steroid usage. His pre-steroid numbers also pale alongside other great hitters like Williams and Musial.

        The Nintendo generation had their fun. Now we’re back to real baseball. I’m sorry if it’s not as enjoyable for you.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:07 PM

        But hasn’t it been mostly proven that many if not most of Bonds’ peers were also using? If that’s the case, and we have every reason to believe it was, how did he really gain a big advantage over his peers and the people he was competing against?

        Also, and correct me if I’m wrong, Ruth never stole 500 bases, won any gold gloves, or competed against black, Latin, and Asian players.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:42 PM

        But hasn’t it been mostly proven that many if not most of Bonds’ peers were also using?

        Absolutely not. Nothing is “proven” as to the degree players used PEDs prior to testing. And no one will ever know the real numbers. All you have are different opinions, with some saying a majority of players did it and others saying relatively few did it.

        One thing we do know with Bonds, if you believe the books written on him, is that he was one of the heaviest abusers of PEDs.

      • yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:48 PM

        Ruth didn’t compete against black, Latin, and Asian players. Ruth also played in a league that was half the size of Bonds’ league. He also played in a time when about the only way to make any money as a pro athlete was in Major League Baseball. The other sports didn’t exist or were in their infancies, thus any athlete who actually wanted to support himself considered baseball first.

        They didn’t have Gold Gloves (which are a joke) in Ruth’s day. He also never allowed the slowest man in baseball to beat him to home plate in the deciding game of a playoff series.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, Bonds never set World Series records as a pitcher that stood for decades.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 16, 2011 at 12:10 AM

        Clearly one bad throw means Bonds wasn’t any good. If that’s all you can say about his performance congratulations, you’ve made a very compelling case.

        There is simply no comparison between the depth of the talent pool or the quality of the athletes during Ruth’s era and Bonds’ era. Of course Bonds never pitched, but the fact that no one else in recent history has been effective as both pitcher and hitter is proof of how much deeper the talent pool is now.

        You’re right, I shouldn’t have used the word proven to describe Bonds’ contemporaries. What I should have said is that there have been enough players that have been caught using, or admitted to using, to assume that a large percentage of players, good, bad, and mediocre, were using. If you want to hold the PED usage against Bonds that’s fine, that’s your right. But then you also have to hold it against Clemens with the same degree of anger and outrage. And McGwire. And Sosa. And Palmeiro. And A-Rod. And Caminiti. And the Giambis. And Sheffield. And Kevin Brown. And Jose Canseco. And Eric Gagne. And David Justice. And Andy Pettite. And all the others that are proven or admitted users. Bonds wasn’t the only thing wrong with baseball, he isn’t somehow responsible for the entire tainted era, and what he did is now worse than what any number of other players did.

        No question Bonds was and is an asshole but that has nothing to do with the dominance he displayed on the field during his career. At worst he is one of the 5 best players to have ever played the game, and even before he likely started using (after 98) he was probably one of the top 15-20 players of all time based on his unprecedented combination of speed and power.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM

        But then you also have to hold it against Clemens with the same degree of anger and outrage. And McGwire. And Sosa. And Palmeiro. And A-Rod. And Caminiti. And the Giambis. And Sheffield. And Kevin Brown. And Jose Canseco. And Eric Gagne. And David Justice. And Andy Pettite.

        They’re cheats too. And some like Clemens are lying cheats as well. That doesn’t make what Bonds did any better.

        and what he did is now worse than what any number of other players did.

        He and Clemens are going to end up being the poster boys of the steroids era. Because they also got caught up in perjury indictments relating to their cheating. The evidence on both also points to extensive cheating, and they are two of the biggest names in the game. So naturally, their PEDs usage is going to get the most press.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 16, 2011 at 12:28 AM

        And A-Rod isn’t one of the biggest names in the game? McGwire wasn’t one of the biggest names? Sosa?

        Clemens’ reputation has clearly been tarnished, but he still doesn’t face 1/10th the wrath that Bonds faces from the general baseball public. How many books have been written about Clemens and all that makes him an asshole? Bonds is an asshole, and he cheated, but so did A LOT of other players. And if I had to guess many of those players are also assholes, it’s just that no one has investigated them to the degree Bonds has been investigated.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        seeingwhatsticks, again, a big factor in the demonization of Bonds and Clemens is their criminal indictments. Sosa, A-Rod and McGwire don’t have that problem. Moreover, in the case of A-Rod, his public confession actually helped him in the eyes of many (though I think he’s still a cheat).

        In addition, with both Bonds and Clemens, you have detailed accusations as to what, when and where in terms of their PEDs usage. You don’t have that with any of the other 3. IMO, both Bonds and Clemens are a-holes.

        Having said that, I would put both Sosa and McGwire in the background of that picture on the poster. The fact that they broke signature baseball records while juicing earns them that honor.

    • lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM

      Who says PED usage has been greatly diminished? I don’t know if anyone is cheating, but it’s an easy system to cheat.

      • yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:04 PM

        I remember you. You’re that guy who continued to deny Bonds was even using steroids way after everybody else had conceded the point.

      • lbehrendt - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:15 PM

        yahmule, I think you have me confused with someone else.

    • seanmk - Mar 16, 2011 at 11:13 AM

      yahmule players still have career years at old ages. jeter did it most resently. old players before steroids had career years at late ages as well. hank aaron is a prime example as are countless others having good seasons after. heck Chipper Jones at age 36 was leading the league in batting average, so please get off your high horse

      • yahmule - Mar 17, 2011 at 8:54 AM

        See? Steriod deniers still exist. Frigging mind boggling.

  15. simon94022 - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Bonds is a jerk, and few argue otherwise.

    But what’s so annoying about dim bulbs like Gene Woj. is the way they single out his PED use as something uniquely terrible. PED use was rampant in the pre-testing era, and I suspect that a large majority of players Woj. reveres as “clean” were in fact PED users at one time or another in their careers. The evidence suggests that pitchers were a bit more likely to use than position players, yet illogically all we hear about are complaints about steroid-induced offense. I still don’t see why PED use is fundamentally worse cheating than throwing a spitball or corking a bat.

    And then there’s the fact that PED use has long been widespread in the NFL and NBA, but it’s a footnote in coverage of those sports, while national baseball writers can not shut up about, even years after the testing and discipline system was put in place.

    • chrisny3 - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:53 PM

      Some disagree that PEDs use was “rampant” pre-testing. We will just never know for sure what the numbers were. Which is why your saying pitchers used more than hitters is just speculation or opinion. Nothing more. So it’s no excuse for hitter like Bonds.

      PEDs are so much worse than spitters or corked bats because they can physiologically alter the body in immense ways, leading to the most unnatural physical performances.

      • paperlions - Mar 16, 2011 at 5:12 AM

        If that is true, then why can no one find a statistical signature of steroid useage? The most highly correlated factor associated with offensive production is baseball composition and the changes made to it over time. If you really think PEDs led to the offensive explosion, then you must think everyone suddenly decided to start taking them in mid-1993.
        To date, there is simply no evidence that PED use had a significant effect on hitting, in contrast there is a great deal of evidence that it had a significant positive effect on pitching.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 16, 2011 at 2:10 PM

        Here’s your statistical signature:

        *The unprecedented plethora of players suddenly hitting 55+ HRs, all at about the same time, right in the midst of what was generally considered to be the steroids era.

        *The unprecedented number of players experiencing unusual spikes in power that you don’t normally see in the career arcs of clean players (ie, Brady Anderson)

        *The unprecedented number of players experiencing unusual peaks in performance late in their careers when almost all other players are already steep in decline or already washed up.

      • lbehrendt - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        chrisny, the statistical studies done on hitting during the so-called steroids era conclude that the effects of steroid use are detectable, but small. For example,see Nate Silver’s excellent chapter “What Do Statistics Tell Us About Steroids” in the book Baseball Between The Numbers, summarized here:

        Please don’t take my head off for pointing this out to you. I’m just the messenger. There’s a lot we don’t know, haven’t studied and cannot necessarily measure, particularly with statistics.

        paperlions, if you have a cite or two to studies done on PED use and pitching, I’d love to see them.

      • chrisny3 - Mar 16, 2011 at 7:33 PM

        Ibehrendt, thanks for a link to a study attempting to show the impact of PEDs in baseball. Do you have any more?

        I have a major problem with Nate Silver’s study and that is the criteria he used to define a power spike. When I talk of unusual power spikes, I’m talking Brett Boone, Camminiti, Brady Anderson, Sosa and Bonds — and increases of more than 10 HRs at a late stage in their careers. You can’t use such a low standard of a10-HR increase in trying to assess the impact as that seems to me too normal and within the boundaries of a natural PEDs-free career. With the five players I’ve named, we saw HR spikes of 16 to 40 over what these players averaged in the previous 3 years — and all at the ages of 29 or older.

        Here are some of their power spikes: Bonds (33), Camminiti (20), Boone (16),. Anderson (40), Sosa (29). So I believe if Nate Silver had done his study using three other different criteria — +15 HRs, and then +20 HRs, and then +25 HRs, I suspect in all three cases he will see a marked difference in power spikes between the steroids era and previous eras.

        In addition, I still maintain that:

        1) there was a highly unusual spike in 55+ HR seasons right in the middle of the steroids era. If I had the raw data and the capabilities, I would test this hypothesis myself. But I don’t. So can anyone come up with a 10-year period in the past in which there were as many 55+ HR seasons? Nate Silver’s study doesn’t address this.

        2) That the career arc of Bonds was highly unusual with peaks coming late, after the age a player usually declines. I know that Aaron had similar peaks late in his career, but they were not accompanied by unusual power spikes and it’s highly unlikely he ever did steroids. OTOH, the books on Bonds claim he was a heavy PEDs user at the same time he was putting together all those big numbers late in his career.

        Keep in mind that Silver did his study and article prior to the publication of Game of Shadows. That book detailed Bonds heavy use of PEDs. I wonder if Silver has a different opinion about the impact of PEDs in light of information that has came to light since he first published his study.

      • lbehrendt - Mar 16, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        By sheer coincidence (was looking today for something else), I came across the following additional studies, and I’ll warn you in advance that I have not read them and cannot defend them: (you can download the study from this page)

        And a NY Times article here, citing to another web page, and again I’ve only skimmed the article:

        I lean hardest on the Nate Silver study, because Silver is about as respected a voice as you can find in sabermetric circles (not to mention his later political polling work). I won’t argue that there are other ways you can cut and slice the data that might lead you to different conclusions. I won’t argue with you that you can probably find someone on the streets at random that understands advanced statistics better than I do. I’m simply saying: I’ve never seen a serious statistical study linking steroids use to a big bump in power hitting.

        No reason why you shouldn’t try your hand at your own study. Maybe you’ll see something that the others have missed. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. But be careful of looking at data with small sample sizes. If you raise the bar too high in how you define a home run spike, you might not be left with enough data to allow you to reach a reliable conclusion.

        As for career arcs … oh, boy. I’m not accusing YOU of anything, but in my very humble opinion there’s been some truly terrible work out there linking PED use to career paths. No argument that Bonds had an unusual career path, and since we know Bonds was juicing, it’s fair to say that anabolic steroids probably contributed to that unusual path. I say this because in Bonds’ case, you’re reasoning from a known cause to a probable effect. But there are folks out there who say they can tell from a career path whether or not someone doped. That’s nuts, in my opinion, because those folks are reasoning from effect to cause. Think of it this way: if you suspect Mr. X of having robbed a bank and you find out that Mr. X bought a new Rolls Royce the day after the bank robbery, the car purchase might be indirect circumstantial evidence tending to prove the bank robbery. But if you have unsolved bank robbery cases in your town, you cannot solve them by finding out who’s bought Rollses.

        In any event, I’m not trying to make arguments here, just passing along information …

      • chrisny3 - Mar 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

        Ibehrendt, consider this:

        • The top six largest HR season totals in baseball history came during the steroids era and belong to known steroids users (Bonds, McGwire, Sosa)

        • For the 10 years between 1995 and 2004, there were ten 55+ HR seasons by 6 players, 4 of whom are known steroids users, and the 5th (L. Gonzalez) has long been suspected of being one too. For the 50 years prior to that, there was just one 55+ HR season. And since 2005, when strict steroids testing started, there has been just 1. What happened between 1995 and 2004 to cause this sudden large cluster of 55+ HR seasons?

        None of the studies you linked to can explain this adequately, nor do they adequately counter the notion that these unprecedented power spikes were the result of steroids.

        Again, I think Nate Silver used the wrong definition of a power spike in his study. If you are not framing the study correctly, you’re not going to find the relevant answers. He essentially measured what are more or less normally occurring power spikes in natural athletes instead of measuring the highly unusual and large power spikes that would indicate heavy PEDs usage. If he had measured power spikes of 15 or more HRs I believe he would have found a big difference in power spikes between eras. I would do a study like this myself, but I lack both the necessary raw data (database) and computer program to run such numbers.

        As for De Vany, he seems a little bit like a steroids/bodybuilding evangelist. I glanced over his study and the core of his argument seems to be that the rate of HRs didn’t change much over time and can be attributed to other things. He also says that the power spikes of such individuals as Bonds and McGwire were due to these individuals being extremely gifted athletes. First, I don’t know that measuring HR rates would be a good way to demonstrate the impact of steroids for a variety of reasons, among them the belief by many that steroids usage wasn’t as widespread as some state. If for example just 14% of players at any one time were doing steroids, well then maybe just half of them were heavy users and maybe just half of those heavy users were power hitters who would show a bump in HRs from steroids. So, what does that leave you with? Maybe just 3.5% (or even less, if you consider pitchers were using too) of players would be seeing a bump in HRs due to steroids. So if you’re looking at league-wide rate stats, like De Vany was doing, that’s why you might not see a dramatic bump. IOW, he was looking at the wrong thing. He should have been looking at power spikes (or late career performance bumps).

        As for Walker, he uses Power Factor, but as in De Vany, that suffers from the same weakness as De Vany’s use of rate stats. Which is if steroids use wasn’t that widespread, the impact it would have on power numbers league-wide wouldn’t be all that great. The NYT’s piece then goes on to argue that Bond’s late career HR peak wasn’t that unusual because Aaron had one too. But here’s the rub: Bonds didn’t just have a late unworldly HR peak, it was a late-career HR spike of huge proportions. Aaron never had a late career HR spike that was remotely close. If you chart Aaron’s HRs into his late career, it’s mostly a straight horizontal line. With Bonds, OTOH, you get an enormous peak at the end of his career. That’s the relevant thing to look at — these inhuman enormous unprecedented late career spikes.

        Another thing that is really important to note is that Nate Silver and De Vany did their studies before Game of Shadows was published, and before the Mitchell report came out. The NYT’s piece citing Eric Walker was also before the Michell report. A lot of information has come to light about the steroids era since all 3 did their work and made their arguments. I would like to see all of them make the same arguments today with a straight face knowing all that we know now. I suspect they couldn’t do it. And I’m wondering if anyone has tried to do any type of similar study in support of steroids users in baseball in the last few years. I bet there are very few, if any.

  16. yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    Bonds Post Season prior to 2002:

    1990: 3 for 18 .167/.375/.167
    1991: 4 for 27 .148/.207/.185
    1992: 6 for 23 .261/.433/.435

    1992 marked the high water mark for the pre-steroid Bonds as a hitter in the post-season, (including his only home run in 116 plate appearances) alas his horrible throw up the first base line allowed Sid Bream to lumber home with the winning run for Atlanta.

    1997: 3 for 12 .250/.231/.417
    2000: 3 for 17 .176/.300/.353

    Yeah, Barry was dynamite in the post-season. The first five times he gets there, his teams bow out in the first round and he bats a collective .196. It’s just a shame the nickname Mr October was already taken.

    • thefalcon123 - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:48 PM

      And exactly how many of those teams would have been to the post season had Bonds not been on them?

      Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Not one.

      • yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:08 PM

        So, all that choking in the post-season gets a pass then? I must say, Bonds fans possess a very forgiving nature.

      • florida76 - Mar 16, 2011 at 12:06 AM

        Actually, the 1991 and 1992 Pirates could have won without Bonds. Those teams dominated the NL East, winning by 14 and 9 games. Put a solid player in place of Bonds, and those teams still win. Bonds was horrible in the 1990-92 playoffs among others.

    • florida76 - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:50 PM

      Yes, Bonds was poor in seven of the nine postseason series he played in. He did play great in the 2002 world series, but the Giants lost anyway.

      The legacy of Bonds will be of a selfish player, consumed by personal achievements, rather than team goals.

  17. shellvice - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:43 PM

    It’s also at least worth noting that the players Woj cites that have left the Giants (and presumably have grown their “team chemistry”) are Barry Bonds, Juan Uribe, and Edgar Renteria.

    On the other end of the color scale, the high character Pat Burrell, Tim Lincecum, Aubrey Huff, etc. are credited with being “great team guys”. White-as-the-new-fallen snow must be the new market inefficiency, according to Woj.

    • yahmule - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:11 PM

      At least those guys didn’t punch out the only other good hitter on the team. Not to say Jeff Kent didn’t probably deserve a good pop in the mouth periodically.

  18. thefalcon123 - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    In all fairness, let’s look at Bonds’ stats in those four losses in the 2002 World Series:

    AB: 9
    R: 5
    H: 4
    2B: 0
    3B: 0
    HR: 3
    RBI: 4
    BA: .444
    OBP: .706
    SA: 1.4444
    OPS: 2.150
    BB: 8

    Yeah, that World Series loss was TOTALLY his fault. What kind of wiener only gets one single in 4 games?

    • florida76 - Mar 15, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      Great players with as many postseason opportunities must perform better than 2/9,
      and Bonds didn’t do enough, even with the steroid advantage.

      • paperlions - Mar 16, 2011 at 5:14 AM

        What part of 4/9 with 8 BB resembles 2/9?

      • larryhockett - Mar 16, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        I think he means 2 good postseasons in 9 tries.

      • florida76 - Mar 16, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        Bonds played horribly in seven of nine postseason appearances, and that’s simply not good enough.

  19. yahmule - Mar 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    Steroids make you stronger and quicker and more confident. This translates into increased bat speed. This allows hitters to wait on their pitch just that tiniest fraction longer. It’s not rocket science for anybody who understands the game.

  20. vlgambino - Mar 18, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    I submit that there is as much evidence that Gene Wojciechowski is on crack as there is that Barry Bonds was on steroids. Regarding Bonds legacy, his real “sin” is that he thought that his on field performance should speak for itself, and didn’t kiss reporters’ asses. That is the same problem that Roger Maris had, and I happen to agree with that idea. Those vindictive reporters and their mindless sheep readers are what this is really about. Face it, there are dozens of players in Cooperstown who would have gladly taken steroids to improve their performance if they had been given an opportunity to do so. I’ll give you Ruth, Cobb, and Mantle, just for starters.


    • yahmule - Mar 20, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      A spoiled and pampered big leaguers’s son like Bonds should be doubly ashamed for cheating to surpass the 61 homers Maris went through hell to achieve.

      The mindless sheep are the people with no sense of baseball history who are so excited about “their era” being the best. The kind of people who started calling Bonds one of the two best players in history when his pre-steroid accomplishments place him somewhere in the top 50. Those are mindless sheep.

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