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Here come the Chris Davis PED suspicions

Jul 1, 2013, 5:44 PM EST

Chris Davis AP

Aaron noted just how crazy a season Chris Davis is having. And when you have a weekend like he had against a team with a big national profile like the Yankees, it sort of puts all of that in relief. And that, sadly, has brought out the PED suspicions. From Baltimore Sports Report:

A simple search on Twitter for the query “Chris Davis steroids” brings up a slew of tweets from baseball fans worldwide over the past few days with blatant accusations that Davis must be juicing.  Things like “It’s time to test Chris Davis for steroids” and “He has to be cheating” were popping up left and right all throughout Saturday and Sunday.  Davis even responded to one fan on Sunday afternoon with a simple “No” when asked “Are you on steroids?”

I can confirm the Twitter thing, as I went looking for that myself this morning (do the search yourself) and found no shortage of people flat accusing Davis of taking PEDs. I didn’t hear the report, but I’m told that a host or guest on a Dallas sports talk radio station was engaging in such speculation this morning too.

You may say “hey, it’s just jerks on Twitter,” but the fact is they are baseball fans. And they didn’t just independently invent the notion that a guy who hits a lot of home runs should automatically be assumed to be taking performance enhancing drugs. No, that speculation — utterly baseless speculation; Davis has always had tremendous power but is now, in the past year, matched it up with better plate discipline — is the product of a media landscape which has decided that every power hitter is a ‘roider. Jose Bautista got this treatment a couple of years ago. Davis is getting it now. Everyone who engages in this business does so because they’ve been convinced by the baseball media that such speculation is not just justified but necessary.

It’s neither of those things. The drug testing system put in place had avoiding these parlor games as one of its primary justifications. But that’s not good enough for some, apparently.

109 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jrobitaille23 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Take it from someone who has worked out for 25 years and did two cycles of steroids in a six month time frame…he’s on something. You cannot get large and ripped naturally. I got in as good a shape as you can be naturally before those two cycles. After six months I added 75lbs to my bench, went from 9 to 5% body fat. Before I maxed 8 reps at 225lbs on the bench. After, I was up to 21 reps. Nobody knew I was dirty. People could tell I was bigger and looking better but nobody thought steroids.

    I pitched in my youth and was a pretty big deal up until highschool. I was topping off in low to mid 80s by 13. I got a little derailed and hardly played after. I decided I wanted to try out for a local men’s league and after my second cycle I was hitting a legit 91 mph (my teammate was a state cop who brought a radar gun). I look at Davis and I see myself. I was in almost identical shape. If you saw him without his shirt off you’d likely start believing he is juicing. I would say the majority of players are on something. He looks like a combo of HGH and low level steroid cocktail. It’s easy to spot someone who is on HGH…their jaw line, eyebrow line protrudes a little. You can also tell by looking at someone traps as for some reason, using makes your traps grow. Obviously, some people are blessed with larger traps but you get what I am saying.

    I know what people who are using look like. It’s hard to tell with MLB because most of these hitters wear long sleeve shirts or the uniforms sleeves cover their arms, but trust me when I say that these guys are working with 16-18 inch arms. You don NOT get arms that big naturally. People will think what they want but unless you have used, and been around people on it, you can’t intelligently say if someone is or is not on the juice. These guys are massive. They are all running around with low body fat, large and ripped muscles and are able to play extremely hard sports for extended periods of time. It is not natural. Look to the bodies of the mid eighties if you want to see what natural athletes look like.

    • rarson - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:44 AM

      That’s great, but Davis looks exactly the same as he did when he was in the minors. So whatever he’s taking isn’t what turned him into a better hitter this year.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:52 AM

        He’s full of crap. If you work out for 25 years, and can only do 225lb on the bench, you are either doing something really wrong or you are lying out your ass. Also, most steroids are water retainers. It’s extremely hard to be on ‘roids AND be ripped because of this. If he had taken ‘roids, or been around people who used ‘roids, they’d have told him this. It’s also way those who were/are around them knew Bonds was on ‘roid when he lifted his shirt and showed his non-six pack. Retaining extra water from ‘roids makes it very difficult to get “ripped”.

        Also, anecdote != plural of data…

      • jrobitaille23 - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        right!! lol…these guys have been using since it was apparent they had the talent to someday make it to the show. Even if MLB announced tomorrow that the 20 top players in the league are juicing…the majority of you apologists would claim they are the only ones. You don’t know what you are talking about. Look at what happened when Canseco came out with that book. Everyone laughed at him. Then, in time they saw the Mitchell report, looked at the data concerning the rise in offense, suspensions..then they came around. But even then people are still blind. THE MAJORITY USE!!

      • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 6:18 PM

        @jrobitaille23

        You’re missing the point. Where were the PED claims when he came into the minors looking like the God of Thunder (our nickname for him is Thor)? Where were the PED claims when he was 0-for-8 as the DH last year? Nobody seemed to give a crap about Davis until he started knocking in homers left and right, and the only reason he’s doing that now is because he’s drastically improved his plate discipline. You can argue all you want whether his appearance is from PEDs or not*. The fact remains that his great season is happening because he improved his game, not because he’s gotten bigger (because he hasn’t).

        *As far as PEDs are concerned, since a PED is a “performance-enhancing” substance, I think it’s safe to say that Davis and everyone else currently in the league is using SOMETHING to try to enhance their performances. So I’d say it’s silly to suggest he’s not using “PEDs.” Steroids, on the other hand, are another story. If Davis is using any kind of banned substances, I’d imagine he’s not using something as obvious as steroids. Who knows? I don’t really care because I don’t really care about PEDs in sports. But even if he is, that just means that Davis is a perfect example of how PEDs, or even just brute strength, don’t magically make a player a better hitter.

    • fukpittsburgh - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      I read your first sentence, and that was all I needed to see.

      • psousa1 - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:25 AM

        Not to get in a drug user debate. I was a user when I played in College (and after), I can spot a user and Chris Davis is not a user. He has always had power and he plays in a bandbox.

        When I see a guy (for example two guys on a AL West coast team and an injured 3B from an AL East team ) who would take a low and outside pitch and still manage to hit it over the wall in CF (whereas most good, disciplined hitters would shoot that the other way) is a bit of a tipoff. It can happen to a natural player but not be done all the time. You are quicker from when you generate your swing to the point of contact (i.e. – reaction time is increased not as much to do with how strong you are).

        Maybe we’ve all become jaundiced but there is such things and will be as guys who hit their stride in their late 20’s.

        Also, look for the two guys from that AL West teams to have monster second halves because their usage is calculated.

        MLB has a list, a mile long, of what is banned and more importantly to the players – what can be used. Some of the stuff that is allowable is not just Mom’s pasta, old fashioned protein drinks and get your rest. Some of the allowable supplements would produce a positive in a more comprehensive (Olympics for example) test.

      • jrobitaille23 - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        gee..bazinga you got me…tool

      • fukpittsburgh - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        Pffffff. Yeah, I’ll “take it from you.” D-bag. Excuse me, Dr. D-Bag.

    • jrobitaille23 - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      cue the morons with the ‘he has always looked this way’…’steroids don’t help with hand eye coordination’. LOL at you fools. You hold a bat and can swing it harder and faster=you can wait longer to swing=you see the ball better=you hit the ball better and harder. It is really the easiest concept to understand but like I said, if you haven’t used…or you are an apologist, nothing anyone says will convince you otherwise. You people act as if highschool kids are not all juicing. You act as if this isn’t an epidemic. What? So these MLB players are somehow in a bubble that don’t face the same pressure of performance? We’ve already seen the explosion in size and numbers when it was rampant a few years ago. Now we’ve got Biogenesis. But somehow despite all this evidence there’s no way Davis (who looks like Cro Magnon man) can be on something. Ha ha. So funny. Keep your heads in the sand lol

      • tomtravis76 - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:27 PM

        So you were cheating in an amateur men’s pick up league? That’s pathetic.

        Let the tests speak for themselves, not a guy claiming to know a drug user just because he is one. No need to attempt to be the Canseco of hardball talk.

        Take it from jalen, if you get jammed up, don’t mention my name.

      • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        Davis is probably the least poorly-proportioned steroids gooser ever, then. Just saying, his head isn’t all swollen and his facial features are clearly defined. His arms don’t look freakishly huge compared to the rest of his body. The dude is just BIG. Perhaps you have never heard of genetics?

        All you need to do is compare how Davis looks over the years versus a guy like Bonds or McGwire. Both of those guys swelled up like crazy so much so that it was externally very obvious. If there is any evidence of the same for Davis, I haven’t seen it.

        I’m not even saying that he’s not using. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that he’s been much more careful than those and made it less obvious. Whatever, I don’t care. Whatever Davis has been doing, he’s been doing it for the last several years to maintain basically the same physique. So it really has nothing to do with his improvement at the plate. And more importantly, your argument is stupid and baseless. You’re using some seriously faulty logic.

        If you ask me, his improvement in defense has been almost as striking as his improvement in offense. It’s clear that he’s been working hard to actually play better.

      • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Besides, I just don’t care whether players are juicing or not. Please tell me: why should I care if players are juicing? If juicing makes players perform better, then for fuck’s sake, we should be injecting every player that steps onto the field!

    • jryouing - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      I don’t get it. This guy admits he took roids, and people attack him to say no you didn’t? And btw, there are lots of guys who take steroids who can’t bench 400lbs or even 350. Like everything else, it must depend on genetics and how you take them. I’ve seen guys who struggle with 185 then miraculously six – eight months their lifts go up dramatically and they on major pounds. I hate the things and have no respect for anyone who takes them, but to each his own.

      But we don’t need to speculate. The doping agencies use a lot more science than just blood and urine tests. They also use statistics to detect deviations in performance. When Lance Armstrong was busy cheating I heard an interview with doping agency statisticians who explained how they find red flags. They use complicated models based on average performance to see whose performance deviates the most from a baseline.

      Based on his previous 4 seasons ( I threw out 2010, which would have made his HR/AB even higher) it took him an avg of 22-23 AB to hit each HR. HIs best season was 2012, when he had 15 AB for each HR.

      Using 2013 as his fifth year- this year – he’s hitting a HR every 9.6 ABs.
      And btw, the juicer from SF only reached these kinds of numbers from 2001 -2004 (6 to 9 AB for each HR); Babe Ruth only reached 9.7 AB once when he hit 60 HRs, and entire career it took him 11 AB. We don’t know what his future performance will be, of course. But he’s having an anomalous year, for sure. It’s the kind of year that, based on the history of baseball, he should never have again, unless he’s one of the greatest HR hitters of all time. Actually if he keeps it up this year, he’d have the fifth greatest HR year of all time… behind who?

      Bonds and Mcguire in the modern era.
      Babe Ruth and Hank Greenberg in the old days.

      • jryouing - Jul 3, 2013 at 12:12 AM

        Sorry Babe Ruth needed only 9 AB/HR when he hit 60.

    • ondaedg - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:35 PM

      Here’s a few things to think about. First off, PEDs do improve batting averages significantly. Anyone who says they don’t have no idea what they’re talking about. Just look at some of the users who’ve been caught in the past and look at their avg, slugging, home runs. Second, HGH has many benefits with improved vision being one of them. This is medically proven so anyone who comes on here and says otherwise again doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Third, the steroid era is NOT over. Synthetic testosterone is all the rage now since it’s out of your system in a day. Fourth, the 20 players who were getting PEDs from Biogenesis weren’t caught by a drug test. Combined, they’ve passed over 80 tests in the last 12 months. They were caught by a black book and stupidity. Even guys like Bartolo Colon who has been busted once is going back for more because even he knows he has nothing to worry about as far as drug tests goes unless they test him within 24 hours of him taking the stuff.

      And finally, these reports that Davis has improved his plate discipline via coaching doesn’t fly since his strike out ratio is nearly the same as last year. He’s slugging .725 folks which is a 225 point increase over last year.. Now go back into the last 13 years and look for guys who were slugging above .600. Each and every one of them were using PEDs.

      • mikhelb - Jul 4, 2013 at 7:09 AM

        So these were using PEDs?

        Todd Helton
        Luis González
        Jim Thome
        Pujols
        Carlos Delgado
        Vladimir
        Larry Walker
        Derrek Lee
        Ryan Howard
        Travis Haffner
        Gary Sheffield
        Jim Edmonds
        Richard Hidalgo
        Josh Hamilton
        Adrián Beltré
        Carlos Peña
        Frank Thomas
        Moises Alou
        Miguel Cabrera
        Prince Fielder
        José Bautista
        Jeff Bagwell
        Piazza
        Matt Holliday
        Chipper
        Troy Glauss
        Joey Votto

        Sheesh, you sure don’t know a lot.

        PS
        Bartolo was caught with an antidoping test, same for Grandal and Melky, when those three were caught and they shared something in particular, a certain clinic, that’s when red lights appeared, it was just a matter of investigating. How did MLB knew about that clinic? Easy, Ryan Braun consulted them when he had his hearings regarding his positive antidoping test, MLB had already done a background check, it just happened to coincide with info gathered and published by the Miami New Times.

      • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 8:03 PM

        “First off, PEDs do improve batting averages significantly. Anyone who says they don’t have no idea what they’re talking about. Just look at some of the users who’ve been caught in the past and look at their avg, slugging, home runs.”

        If you want to argue the merits of PEDs, that’s fine, but at a bare minimum you’ll have to take the time to at least do a little research first and construct a sound argument. Saying that PEDs improve averages significantly and supporting that opinion by saying “look at the people who have been caught, their averages, slugging, and home runs” is not a sound argument. You’re just making baseless claims and supporting them with your understanding of stats, without any consideration given to the plethora of outside factors that affect those stats.

        With regards to BATTING AVERAGES (which is what your claim was about, not home runs or slugging), I would think that PEDs could be equally as detrimental as they are beneficial to a mediocre hitter. Sure, more power might help you swing the bat around faster and make more contact, but more contact could easily equal more outs. If a ground ball is hit hard towards a fielder, it’s generally easier to make the quick play than, for instance, a Baltimore chop. So in that case, more power isn’t necessarily a good thing as far as batting average is concerned.

        “This is medically proven so anyone who comes on here and says otherwise again doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

        Stating something as so is not the same as actually making a sound argument. Feel free to support your assertions with evidence.

        “Third,…”

        Everything in your paragraph after that word has absolutely nothing to do with Chris Davis. Just sayin’.

        “And finally, these reports that Davis has improved his plate discipline via coaching doesn’t fly since his strike out ratio is nearly the same as last year.”

        Davis has 99 strikeouts in 319 at-bats. He’s been striking out a little more lately, but that’s right around 31% of his at-bats. Last year, he had 169 strikeouts in 515 at-bats. That’s almost 33%. That’s a pretty significant difference.

        Davis is also playing more games than he did last year, so he’s maintaining a LOWER strikeout ratio while getting more chances to strike out. Obviously his plate discipline has improved based on strike outs alone (especially considering that he had a pretty good September to end last season, striking out only 30.4% of the time).

        “He’s slugging .725 folks which is a 225 point increase over last year.”

        Davis’ slugging percentage last year by month, starting from October and working backwards:

        October – .727 (small sample size, but still)
        September – .652
        August – .438
        July – .427
        June – .397
        May – .489
        April – .563

        Davis’ main problem last year was consistency. He had plenty of power, but was swinging at a lot of garbage and would go for long streaks without getting any hits (he was 0-for-8 as DH in the game that he won as pitcher in Boston last year). It wasn’t until September when he really started putting it together at the plate. I just don’t see how your brief mention of slugging percentage does anything to bolster your assertion that PEDs are to blame for his hot season. Do you think he just started taking them at the end of last season or something?

        Again, I’m not arguing whether Davis is taking PEDs or not. He’s probably taking something, as are the vast majority of players today. I’m just saying that if you think PEDs are to blame for his sudden good year, then you must not understand a thing about baseball or what it takes to be a good hitter. Saying that someone must be on steroids because a variety of other players turned out to be juicing during a decade when EVERYONE IN BASEBALL was doing it is just stupid. You haven’t made a valid argument, you’ve just claimed that others don’t know what they’re talking about when it’s obviously you that doesn’t.

        I know those numbers seem very close, but He’s slugging .725 folks which is a 225 point increase over last year.. Now go back into the last 13 years and look for guys who were slugging above .600. Each and every one of them were using PEDs.”

      • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM

        Ack, editing mistake. Note to HBT: need an edit button, please.

      • basedrum777 - Jul 18, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        What he should have said was the last person to slug over 700 and not be suspected was Larry Walker, in 1999.

        Everything else he said about roids is coherent. The affect on BA probably has a lot to do with being walked later in the season due to pitchers not wanting to pitch to you. Using data from people found to be juicing is a valid way to form hypothesis about things like drug use. Just like anything else in science.

        Do we know he’s using? No. Do we suspect b/c the testing policy is a joke? Hell yeah.

  2. charlutes - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Craig, I know you come out on the right side of this argument. But you’re feeding the problem by writing about the guys who write about this crap, just to fill columns at get the 100 comments. Ignore twitter altogether if possible. if not, ignore the idiots. It’s a bit hypocritical to cry foul about writers for milking the same non issue you are.

  3. kundratm - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:46 AM

    Forget PED’s its all about Bucco Fever. Chris Davis has it!

    http://4thwallsports.com/2013/07/bucco-fever/

  4. youknowwhatsgoodforshoulderpain - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    Chris Davis had crazy power when he was with my Rangers too. The difference between now and then isn’t a power burst, but an improvement in plate discipline. PED accusations are going to fall flat when thrown at this kid. Wish we still had him.

  5. pillowporkers - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Newsflash to steroid using commenters on this page:

    Just because you’ve taken steroids doesn’t mean you gain a superpower where you can tell every other person that’s taking them or not taking them. Every BODY is different.

    I’m against steroids as anyone, but come on I’m getting tired of every great feat in sports being related to PEDs. First it was Adrian, now it’s Chris Davis. Maybe there are other factors like work ethic, determination, and a little luck? If you’re guilty of using, you’re guilty of using, but this is just sad we can’t appreciate anything great in sports anymore.

  6. byjiminy - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Looking the same as you did in the minors doesn’t mean anything. Millions of HIGH SCHOOL students take steroids. Kids have been taking steroids to lift weights since the sixties and seventies. One recent survey said 5% of all students admitted to it. Not athletes, ALL students. So among athletes, the number has to be much, much higher.

    And Craig’s point that it is impossible to use PED’s because of drug testing is silly. Barry Bonds never failed a drug test. The only reason they caught him was someone gave samples of the drugs he was taking to investigators. Designer drugs will always stay one step ahead of the tests. You can also just take a course in the off-season and the chances are good you’ll get away with it; the tests aren’t that frequent. Even Ryan Braun would have passed his test if he would have taken epitestosterone with his steroids. All the test does is measure the ratio between the two.

    My assumption is people are still using like crazy. The only thing I agree with is that excelling doesn’t mean you’re a user: you still have to be good because everyone else is using too.

    • rarson - Jul 7, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      “Looking the same as you did in the minors doesn’t mean anything.”

      Actually, it does, since MiLB testing is apparently much tougher than MLB testing. If Davis was using steroids back then, enough to go from a scrawnier build to the buff dude he is today, then he probably would have gotten caught. Obviously guys the size of Davis are easy targets for testing.

  7. anarin - Aug 7, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    77 homeruns in 6 years.

    41 homeruns in one season before september?

    I remember another Baltimore Oriole who exploded into a homerun phase in one season.

    Brady Anderson.

    Just calling it like it is.

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