Steroids in Baseball January 13, 2010Posted by Dwight Furrow in Culture, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
Tags: baseball, Mark MacGwire
Mark MacGwire has finally admitted that he used performance enhancing drugs during his historic home run streak in 1998.
It is now clear that many players, both hitters and pitchers, used these drugs, which not only help players recover from injuries more quickly but also increase muscle mass. Because these drugs were illegal, many reports of baseball statistics during the steroid era include an asterisk indicating that the result was tainted by the use of illegal drugs.
Matt Yglesias thinks there is no reason to question the records broken during this era:
The players being marked out on this list played during a time when there was no real effort to curb the use of currently-banned substances and the use of such substances was widespread. In particular, they were used by pitchers as well as hitters, and any position players whose physical attributes were enhanced by PED was also playing defense. There’s just no clear reason to believe that widespread use of steroids and HGH represented some structural advantage for hitters.
But I don’t follow his reasoning. If performance enhancing drugs increase muscle mass, they certainly increase a batter’s chance of hitting a home run. Although it may be the case that pitchers used them as well, I doubt that a pitcher on steroids improves his ability to prevent home runs to the same degree.
Hitting home runs in contrast to doubles or long singles is primarily a matter of strength. Although pitchers may gain a bit of velocity through the use of steroids, velocity by itself is not much of an advantage.
Hitters comparatively gain a greater advantage than pitchers do through the use of steroids. Thus, the competitive balance of MLB was disrupted by the use of steroids—the records are indeed tainted.
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