Barry Bonds 73 home runs in the 2001 season was the most hits in any single season. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has 37 home runs heading into the All-Star break, prompting a discussion of his chances separate all-time record.
For some, though, including Davis himself, the Orioles slugger is not measured against Bonds 73 Home Runs, but rather the 61 hit by Roger Maris in 1961. Bonds of the total, including 61 + sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, are ignored amidst hand-wringing over the problems with performance sport Improving drug.
But proponents of the argument Maris really hurt the integrity of the sport by providing role of PEDs in baseball far more credit than it deserves or ever been given before. 37 home Davis’ Runs have him on pace to hit more than Maris, but fewer than bonds-the first time this has happened since Bonds broke the record, and for the first time Maris vs. bonds debate really important.
To be sure, MLB has a high profile history of doping-sufficient President George W. Bush explicitly called in his 2004 State of the Union address. Nearly a decade later, the sport still has its share of PED problem; reportedly set it to suspend some players after the All-Star break for their alleged involvement in a Miami clinic providing drugs. Stranger still, avoid suspension of MLB’s own rules governing the PED testing and punishment. That said, there are positive tests each year show that doping still exists in baseball, although at a lesser extent than when PED usage is at its peak in the 1990s and early 2000s.
What there is no evidence of PED use the player on the home-run hitters. When the Mitchell Report, the result of nearly two-year investigation former Senator George J. Mitchell’s on doping in baseball was released, the list of players involved in the PEDs was hardly a murderer ‘Row of famous sluggers. For every Barry Bonds (762 career Home Runs) or Jason Giambi (435) listed, there are some players like Nook Logan (2) and Gary Bennett (22).
Moreover, it is important to note that even during widespread doping, it is not only the user who started achieving more Home Runs, league-wide, everybody started hitting more Home Runs. MLB has experienced a significant jump in the average number of home runs per game over the last few decades. As the graph below shows, there was a massive step almost doubling the average from about one to about two in the early 1990s. Mark McGwire’s 70 home runs in 1998 hit a season-average of 2.08 home runs / game. Bonds hit his 73 in a year where the average is 2.25. And as PED usage is reduced to MLB players, the average number of home runs per game has maintained its high level: To date, Davis is hitting his home runs in a league with 1.99 home runs each game. If the increase in the early 1990s was only attributable to PEDs, numbers that would have cratered back to its original, last year after more rigorous testing is integrated in baseball. Instead, the power production in 2013 was far more similar in 2001 than it was in 1991. Obviously, there are variables at play and nothing beyond doping.
There is very little variation in the graph above 1994 then jump. Between bonds and Davis, with a quarter of a home run in each game of differences, which is far from the steps between the early and mid-’90s.
Pretty simple, if one looks only at home runs per game, the league does not seem to be different between 2001 and 2013. Individual performances will resemble their 2001 level, too: In 2001, 12 players hit more than 40 home runs, and in 2013, nine players are on pace to meet or surpass the 40 home- run mark. Both in the aggregate as well as the individual level, there is little evidence that home Operates appreciably more often in 2013 than they were when McGwire or Bonds broke the record, even as PED use is somewhat reduced.
How be it, then, Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa all surpassed Maris’s record for PEDs? Maybe because the act of hitting a baseball is an incredibly complex actions that success can not be directly associated with PEDs.
Do they help? Probably they do, if for no other reason than helping their baseball players to stay on the field in full force over the 162-game grind of the regular season. If there is a clear correlation Runs house, however, the chart above shows far more obvious differences, and there will be more big-name talent listed in the Mitchell Report.
This is not to defend Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, or any player using PEDs. Having grew up in St. Louis, I look at my own newspaper reprints McGwire with mixed feelings. And MLB had its share of debacles during the Congressional investigation (eg, McGwire refusing to talk about the past in 2007, Roger Clemens perjuring himself in 2008), so maybe it is eager to avoid further embarrassment.
But MLB record is full of individuals where the action is rather embarrassing. One can simultaneously hold notes while also not always being a paragon of virtue: Pete Rose, banned from the Hall of Fame for gambling on baseball, yet holds the record for career hits. Ty Cobb has the highest average in MLB history Cage despite being a racist.
Although on-field indiscretions and cheating is not nullified other record holders’ place in history. The man bonds passed for career home run record, Hank Aaron, admitted to using amphetamines. Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry made a career out of baseball altering illegal substances from sputum in vaseline, and admits as much in his autobiography.
Baseball is a different game in 2013. Home Runs are relatively easy to reach than they were 30 years ago. Why? There are several reasons. Players are bigger and stronger than they used to be. Bats are better crafted than they once were. Monitoring strategy and video documentation evolved to allow instant review of a pitcher opposed. Training strategy that evolved to allow the players to stay in the field. And yes, drugs, legal or otherwise, exists almost surely make some changes in performance.
Discounting Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa, however, denies the above systemic changes unrelated to PEDs and features home runs only on drug use. Ironically, it may actually have the opposite effect wishing MLB: By accentuating the link between doping and on-field success, MLB may well incentivize players to attempt to use the drug. Chris Davis is, in fact, have home-run record in sight, but as he aims for the requirement to be 73. For the great game, it needs to respect its records even if it respected its record-holder.