Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slump or done?

When you're 25, it's a slump. When you're 33, 34, 35... you might be done. Papi, Magglio, Abreu, this might relate to you:

"I know people talk about the steroid issue (throughout baseball), but this thing happens to the best of them," former hitting coach Merv Rettenmund says. "One year, a guy is the best hitter in the game. The next, he has trouble hitting the ball out in batting practice."

George Foster, whose production plummeted from 52 homers to 13 in a five-year span, is one of many illustrious sluggers whose careers deteriorated in their early 30s. Cecil Fielder hit 95 homers from 1990 to 1991 but had 13 at 33. Jim Rice hit 39 homers at 30 and never more than 15 after reaching 34.
This is a fascinating topic and one, to me, needs to be explored deeper and further. I wish the author, the esteemed Bob Nightingale from USA Today took it further (but hey, it is USA Today, an economy of words).

If time permits, I'll try to get some data on sluggers' performance during their mid-30's.


Jake said...

Papi's decline looks quite suspicious to me. He goes from being a decent but not really noteworthy slugger for several years in Minisota to the most feared hitter in baseball in Boston practically overnight (it really is astounding how his power numbers jumped when he went to Boston) and then, following a couple big steroid busts, loses his ability to hit anything out of the park at all. Oh, and the Sox were telling their players how to use roids. Sure, he had that wrist injury last year, but he hit at a fairly typical Papi pace after he came back from that.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

I think Papi's ascention from being waived by MIN to uber-stud was always interesting. No accusation, just interesting.

That he fell off the table doesn't mean that he was using and now isn't. Most baseball folks have been saying for eons that the first guys to lose it are the big, hulking sluggers. Papi would qualify. Not to mention his wrist injury.

The guys on MLB Network last night were pretty frank about Papi, saying, in effect "this guy has lost it and is cheating on pitches to try to catch up".

I think every Boston fan's worst nightmare is that Papi was using during the run, just as Jeter using would be every Yanks' fan. We all want to believe that our favorites are/were clean.

Tossing Papi (or Jeter) into the heap with the rest of the guilty (or guilty-like) would be heartbreaking.

I hope Papi is/was clean as it'd be better for baseball. If this is indeed the end due to age, so be it.

Marc said...

I have long maintained that Papi has used. Had to have. And the fact that he speaks out against means nothing. Too quick of a rise from long mediocrity and too fast of a decline. A steep dropoff may always be there, but McGwire's is the biggest I can remember. I think Papi's troubles started last year, after the Mitchell report. Prob scared him clean and now he is struggling.

Don;t want to sound like a pure Boston-hater, which I am, b/c I'm sure there are many many others going through this to a degree. We see it with Glaus but he's already been convicted.

That said, no doubt Arod is clean right now. Couldnt get busted now or his career is over. 4 HRs in a row is pretty awesome. Steroids help, but great players like Arod, Jr Griffey, Gwynn, etc were always going to be great and rise above in their primes. I sure do hope Pujols isn't ever on the guilty list.

dinologic (Dean D) said...

If there is a God in Heaven, Schilling will someday be outed. :)

The evidence against Ortiz, while circumstantial, is just as telling as the evidence against any other player. And really, you don't need stats to back up anything. I always refer to Dan Naulty. If he used, ANYONE could have used.

Jake said...

There's no doubt in my mind that for every superstar that used steroids, there's dozens of players from the rookie league up to the bottom 5 spots on the big league roster who used steroids as a way to get or hang onto that big-league job. A player in AAA has everything to gain from steroids, but almost nothing to lose, while for a $15 million/year superstar, steroids may mean hitting a couple extra homers but could also mean millions of dollars down the drain. The 40th man on the roster has WAY more of a reason to dope than the 1st.

mikel said...

Jason, why must you hurt me so? Even worse was CBS Sportsline this morning, which ran a dual photo of Papi and Magglio with the headline, "Dead yet?". Or something like that - I'm trying to force it from my memory (for those that don't know, I have both in my fantasy league - and am STILL in 3rd place of 12).

Seriously - I hope that it's not as bad as I think, but I am pretty sure a clear majority of star players were using PEDs for a number of years, probably about a decade. So - probably 5% of all MLB players, skewed to the high end of talent pool not the low. The low-end guys - they probably forced them to stay OFF the stuff because there's no way they could keep them quiet - an equation that changes when you're on a big payroll.

tadthebad said...

Marc, that's a joke, right? After all we have learned, you're going to stick your head in the sand and simply say that ARod is completely clean, now?

Marc said...

I think Arod is completely clean NOW, with completely clean meaning stuff within the rules. Doesn't mean he's not take stuff that hasn't yet been banned, like McGwire with Andro. I'm not expert, but I definately think there's still certain over the counter/perscription stuff, be it Viagra, Ritalin or whatever that gives an edge but is not illegal.

But do I think he's on steroids now like he admitted to before? Hell no. He may be dumb, but he's not THAT dumb.