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Carlos Ruiz and performance-enhancing drugs

Nov 27, 2012, 6:06 PM EDT

Carlos Ruiz AP

There are a lot of differing opinions out there, educated and otherwise, on just how much performance-enhancing drugs actually enhance performance. On the one side, there’s suspected users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens pulling off incredible feats at advanced ages. On the other, there’s the long list of proven cheaters littered with names of journeymen long forgotten.

Now, though, that long list has suddenly gotten interesting at the end. The last three veteran major leaguers caught cheating were all exceeding expectations in a pretty big way:

Melky Cabrera, the 2012 All-Star Game MVP, was leading the NL with a .346 average through 113 games when he was suspended. His OPS went from .671 in 2010 to .809 in 2011 to .906 last season.

Bartolo Colon had a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts for Oakland prior to his suspension. Two years after his career was presumed over due to shoulder problems, he was on his way to his best season since 2005. Had he maintained the 3.43 ERA, it would have been his second-lowest mark in 15 big-league seasons.

Carlos Ruiz established new career highs in average (.325), homers (16) and RBI (68) as a 33-year-old last season. The homer total was two more than he had the previous two seasons combined. His .540 slugging percentage was almost 150 points higher than his career mark of .393.

Of course, Ruiz, unlike the other two, wasn’t caught with testosterone. And because he was using an amphetamine, not a steroid, he’s getting just a 25-game suspension (Cabrera and Colon received 50 games apiece).

Whether the Adderall deserves any credit for Ruiz’s performance spike is a matter I’ll let others debate. But it’s more ammunition for those who believe that cheaters get an incredible advantage over those who get their results naturally.

  1. ezthinking - Nov 27, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Did you for get Grandal and then what about the three immediately before these three, Marlin Byrd, Freddie Galvis and Guillermo Mota?

    Byrd, Mota and Galvis all suck so there goes that theory, Matt.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Nov 27, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      Not forgetting anything. It says “veteran major leaguers” right there in the article. And nothing in there is promoting any sort of theory.

      • hackerjay - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:43 PM

        But Byrd and Mota were both definitely veteran Major Leaguers. And you say you’re not promoting a theory, but the article is definitely saying that hte theory that PEDs help is getting some more ammunition.

      • tsi431 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:54 AM

        PED’s are not going to help you with your accuracy as a pitcher (Mota), but it will help with rehabbing from injury, and conditioning (Colon, Ruiz, and Cabrera).

    • drewsylvania - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:13 PM

      Your handle belies your comment.

    • Cris E - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      Baseball is very hard.

      You can work hard to develop your skills, but at some point everyone runs out of talent and hits a ceiling: that’s as good as you can play. Sometimes players get injured and don’t reach their ceiling, and they eventually get old and can’t stay at that level. But by and large there’s a limit to how good everyone can be.

      PEDs don’t change your ceiling, really. But they allow you work harder and longer to get to your ceiling, and they allow you to recover from injuries quicker, and to delay the effects of aging and stay near your peak longer. If you’re me you still won’t sniff an MLB roster, but it might have been enough to get Galvis or Mota a spot, and in the hands of a top shelf talent like Bonds with a decade of experience it can make the game look like some sort of Nintento replay.

      Not everything is black and white. Matt’s no deep thinker, but at least he had the sense to post this in largely grey shades of possibility. Give grey a chance.

  2. ame123 - Nov 27, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Lazy and uninformed article. Adderall is not a PED. I don’t know why that is a difficult concept to grasp. A lot easier to learn about it than write a 500 word blog post and make yourself sound silly.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Nov 27, 2012 at 6:56 PM

      It may not physically make you better but people claim it makes you super focused. In a game most people say is played as much in your head as with your body it could be considered performance enhancing.

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      How is Adderall not a performance enhancing drug? Isn’t the whole point of taking Adderall to increase focus? Or in other words… enhance your performance in tasks related to focus?

      Not to mention, people take drugs for reasons other than what they are typically used for. If Viagra can be used by baseball players as a “steroid”/PED, I’m sure that Adderall could be, and likely is.

      But at the end of the day, does it really matter? Ruiz was suspended for a drug that is banned by Major League Baseball. Regardless of whether it is a “PED” or not, it is a banned substance.

      • davidpom50 - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        Adderall is an amphetamine. It’s speed. It gives a serious energy boost, which is rather helpful during the long haul of an MLB season. There’s a reason why every team had bowls full of them in the clubhouse when they were still legal.

    • drewsylvania - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      Let’s pretend for a minute that he does sound silly. He’s still less of an asshole.

    • howiehandles - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:04 PM

      Then I guess there are a bunch of professional athletes who’ve suddenly developed ADHD.

    • stex52 - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      Silly comment. Of course it enhances performance. What’s your definition?

    • stlouis1baseball - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      Please explain why Adderall isn’t a performance enhancing drug.
      If it allows you to maintain focus your performance IS very much enhanced.
      I realize this is simplifying it. But it really is that simple.

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Adderall= (Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine)

      Speed (greenies) were the drug of choice for MLB LONG before steroids became popular. Players have to have a Dr.s diagnosis for ADD or ADHD to be able to take it and not get banned in today’s game, while players 50 years ago…and up until they were banned about 8-10 years ago…would eat greenies like M&M’s. It’s a long season, and methamphetamine and amphetamine gave players enough boost in focus and energy to survive, and keep up with their opposition, much like steroid users felt they had to keep up with the Jone’s use of steroids

  3. crisisjunky - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    really focused ~ Chooch can work off his 25 days organizing the clubhouse, hooking up the spread, doing the laundry, folding towels, oxycleaning sanis, loading batbags..unpacking and setting up sunnies and bubblegum in the dugout….. polishing the plasticware……..folding and lining up the sanis……
    refolding the towels……………….

  4. drewsylvania - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    Where can I find a list of all substances that are banned by MLB? Google only returns players.

    • davidpom50 - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Here’s a start:

      • drewsylvania - Nov 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

        Cool, thanks. I missed that one.

  5. rickhigginshtbro - Nov 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    this would explain his batting average increase this season, but not necessarily his slugging or home run totals. Chooch over the past few years has just been clutch. Hit his HR’s and monster doubles right when it mattered, not just out of the blue like he did this season. If chooch hit this .325 over the last 4 years, his career totals for home runs and slugging would be in line.

  6. Glenn - Nov 27, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Let’s not forget that a lot of those journeymen probably extended their careers with PEDs. Taking them does not make one an all-time great, but if it makes one better, it is an edge – the difference from having a MLB job or not for many. When a superstar takes them, you get Barry Bonds. He was a comic book superhero come to life in those tainted years. I wish PEDs stayed out of baseball, but they didn’t (don’t) and Barry Bonds put together some of the most amazing sports spectacles on them.

  7. papacrick - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Adderall is the greatest ped of them all. I’ve been using it to excel at sports since the mid nineties. While the energy is nice, the focus and determination it gives baseball players and golfers is unmatched. If you’re a ten handicapper and start taking adderall you’re handicap will be no worse than a 4 after a year.

  8. andyreidisthegoat - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    No one should be surprised by this. He went from ok to super human over night. And don’t think he was taking the adderall as a pick me up. This was being used to mask his steroid use. believe nothing and no one in baseball today. everything is fradulent.

  9. Walk - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I thought i saw an article for drugs like adderall for adhd being well over the national average. Doing a search for it though i got an article going back to 2007 and the rate was about 9% of mlb players get a doctors exemption for some type of adhd drug. That is slightly lower than the 10% national average.

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