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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Nate Silver: Suspicion of Steroid Use Could Keep Bagwell and Piazza Out of Hall

538…the career number of walks given up by one Bill Walker. Coincidence? I think not.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, eligible to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time, will almost certainly not be named when the next choices for Cooperstown are announced on Wednesday. Instead, tallies of sportswriters who have publicly announced their ballots suggest that they may only get 40 to 50 percent of the vote, despite having statistical records that rank them as among the best players in history.

There is little mystery about why Bonds and Clemens will be denied a place in the hall: the reason is the evidence that they used performance-enhancing drugs. But for the first time we will be able to say essentially without doubt that some players have been rejected from Cooperstown specifically because they are known to have used or suspected of having used steroids.

...The comparison between Bagwell and Biggio may be especially instructive. The suspicion that Bagwell used steroids seems to be based on a sort of stereotyping. Bagwell hit for significantly more power than expected based on his minor-league statistics, and grew heavier and bulkier physically. Slugging first basemen who played in the 1990s are automatically suspected of steroid use by a certain contingent of voters, while speedy middle infielders like Biggio are not.

If one were actually to look at the list of players who have been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, it might call some of these assumptions into question. Among these players are the utility infielder Neifi Perez, who hit 64 home runs in a 12-year career, the slap-hitting outfielder Jorge Piedra, and a substantial number of pitchers. The incidence of performance-enhancing drug use seems to be fairly randomly distributed between stars and benchwarmers, players at different positions and those with different skills.

Some writers seem to think they can profile steroid users, and some otherwise-deserving players seem likely to be denied a place in Cooperstown because of it.

Repoz Posted: January 09, 2013 at 06:16 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, steroids

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:41 AM (#4342661)
Neifi was suspended for roids? No memory of that at all.
   2. McCoy Posted: January 09, 2013 at 07:59 AM (#4342667)
Amphetamines, and was the first player to be suspended for it.
   3. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 08:17 AM (#4342679)
i tried to submit an article written by tom haudricourt of the journal-sentinel yesterday because i think it is instructive on how the typical voter is now thinking.

haudricourt is not a deep thinker. he has written for the journal sentinel for years and his next profound insight will be his first. but his article on voting for the hall of fame demonstrated an approach that i think will be slowly adopted by other voters.

basically, if a guy is a known user and in his mind borderline without having used peds then forget it so mcgwire and palmiero are out

he initially voted against bagwell but has reconsidered because there isn't anything 'real' out there. so bagwell gets a yes.

and the same with sosa and piazza. he's not thrilled about it but is working to be reasonable.

as for clemens and bonds they were hall of famers well before this stuff hit so again, he's not happy about it but he votes for them

he also voted for biggio, raines, morris, lee smith and edgar martinez.

this is a pretty decent ballot. he voted for 10 players which is notable. he voted for 6 guys who are no brainers and 4 which in my mind are borderline (smith, martinez, morris, sosa) but i am not going to be outraged if those guys are in the hall of fame.

he really deliberated. good for him
   4. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: January 09, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4342726)
HW, I think you are optimistic that this is typical, but I wish it was (though I personally don't care at all about Steroids). I think the mess will be cleared up in a few years though.
   5. Loren F. Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4342752)
If we are indeed in for a "few years" of this mess being sorted out, it will be interesting to see what, if any, collateral damage there'll be. My bet is that the "mess" means that not only confirmed steroids users but also guys who are suspected of using because they hit a bunch of homers (see Piazza) will see their induction delayed by a number of years but will get in eventually. I don't care that much about steroid use, and while I think Bonds and Clemens should be in the HoF, at least they are linked to evidence of some kind of PED use (which makes their snubs understandable if still wrong). I don't understand penalizing Bagwell and Piazza for simply looking like possible PED users, especially while Pettitte somehow retains his good-guy reputation.

If some otherwise no-brainers miss election to Cooperstown for a few years, I suspect a few borderline guys in 2014 and beyond who might have gotten in will wind up being sunk by the backlog. I'm not so sure about the corollary situation of a few borderline players getting elected who would've otherwise fallen short, just because they jump ahead of steroids-associated players. Today's vote will be very telling in regard to what benefit falls to players perceived as "clean."
   6. Chip Posted: January 09, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4342774)
Repeating from the Gizmo thread: Verducci says he didn't vote for Bagwell last year not because of any suspicion, but (paraphrasing) because Bagwell was insufficiently critical of steroid use by others.

But turned around and voted for him this year.
   7. tfbg9 Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:17 AM (#4342849)
Not really what Verducci wrote Skippy.


"I try to be fair. Speculation alone is dangerous. I'll use Jeff Bagwell as an example. He's a guy I voted for again. But here are some facts about Bagwell: he hired a bodybuilder (later hired by Luis Gonzalez) in 1995 to make him "as big as I can," flexibility be damned; took the steroid precursor andro (as well as supplements such as creatine, HMB, zinc, etc.), underwent a massive body change; maintained a bodybuilder weightlifting regimen; called the whistle-blowing in 2002 by Caminiti "a shame" and the one in 2005 by Jose Canseco "very disappointing . . . whether it's true or not;" promulgated the red herring that drugs don't help baseball players ("Hand-eye coordination is something you can't get from a bottle," he said of his andro use); and as recently as 2010 in an ESPN interview openly endorsed steroid use by anyone from a fringe player ("I have no problem with that") to superstars such as Bonds and McGwire ("I know you took it but it doesn't matter") as well as the HGH use by an injured Andy Pettitte ("That's not a performance enhancer").

I disrespect his position on steroids and wonder why someone of a bodybuilder mindset who endorses steroid use would walk right up to the steroid line himself without crossing it. His comments, right before his first year on the ballot, bothered me so much that I didn't vote for him that year -- I needed more time to process his candidacy, a kind of deferral that is not uncommon. Without subsequent information, I have voted for him since. No, voting isn't easy. This is the kind of toxicity the players left behind from The Steroid Era."

So, it turns out he said he didn't vote for Baggy last year because "he openly endorsed" juicing. Not the same thing as merely being "insufficiently critical".
   8. Rough Carrigan Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:19 AM (#4342851)
Did Bagwell really hit for that much more power than expected by his minor league stats? I remember that he was stupidly traded from the Red Sox to the Astros after a season at AA where he had few homers but a lot of doubles. The thing was, that park was a terrible park for homers. But, supposedly, the minor league coaches could all see that Bagwell was going to be a fantastic hitter. Only Sox GM Lou Gorman didn't realize it.
   9. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4342861)
Did Bagwell really hit for that much more power than expected by his minor league stats? I remember that he was stupidly traded from the Red Sox to the Astros after a season at AA where he had few homers but a lot of doubles. The thing was, that park was a terrible park for homers. But, supposedly, the minor league coaches could all see that Bagwell was going to be a fantastic hitter. Only Sox GM Lou Gorman didn't realize it.

Bagwell had 6 homers in 710 at bats in the minors when he was traded. I think it's fair to say no one was expecting him to hit 450 homers but as you note, there were reasons (park issues, scouting reports, other XBH) to believe that he was going hit more homers eventually.

I never saw him play as a minor leaguer but one thing that struck me as a big leaguer is his swing had an upper cut to it. I would be curious to know if that was something that developed over the years or was in existence back then.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 09, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4342880)

i talk to a lot of the old guard. their fervor is dropping because the public doesn't give a sh8t.

it's identical to the &&& marriage issue. it was hot for a brief spell and then a few years passed, folks realized 'wow, this is dumb', and now things are changing.

it will be the same. and all the folks here who were all smug back in the day will wonder what happened.

what happened is that the world calmed down and realized all this shouting was about not much.

time can be a beautiful thing
   11. Bob Tufts Posted: January 09, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4342949)
Bagwell had 6 homers in 710 at bats in the minors when he was traded

Kirby Puckett's 1982-83 minor league HR's : 3,9
Kirby Puckett's 1984-86 ML HR's - 0,4, 31.

By the way, since writers have repeatedly ignored the rules and voted for Pete Rose, can I get a campaign started here for 2014 to get a Hall of Fame vote? (Yes, despite the 10 years and being retired for over 15 years - I know, but....)

   12. John M. Perkins Posted: January 09, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4343334)
Both Puckett and Bagwell had pretty good minor league double numbers.

A problem with Silver's analysis is the maximum of 10 names on a ballot.
If a voter is a WAR voter, McGwire, Piazza and Sosa are 12th, 13th and 14th on the ballot. And that's with a big Hall bias.
   13. NattyBoh Posted: January 09, 2013 at 09:54 PM (#4343755)
Kirby Puckett's 1982-83 minor league HR's : 3,9
Kirby Puckett's 1984-86 ML HR's - 0,4, 31.

It wasn't steroids. He just took extra batting practice on his wife.

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