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Thread: Half-Jokingly Trying to Identify Steroid Users From the Early '90s With Data

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    Half-Jokingly Trying to Identify Steroid Users From the Early '90s With Data

    I figured I wanted to look at whose production increased the most in 1991 and beyond, the first year steroids were "banned" from MLB. In my code, I looked at players who played both from 1985-1990 (a good 6 season sample size) and then looking at any of any of those players who played in 1991 and/or beyond. I cut the PA size off to 1000 PA on both 1985-1990 and 1991-2006. I understand that the years I picked- 1985, 1991, and 2006 are all very arbitrary, but I figured that was my best estimate of baseball when steroid use was at a relative low, when steroid use became rampant, and when steroid use tapered off. I could be totally wrong in my estimates, but I took my best guess.

    I then looked at the players' median WAR and wRC+ before and after '91, and then calculated which players had the largest positive difference. Here's my code in case anyone is following along at home.

    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.06.25 AM.png

    Here's the top 43 players with the biggest differences in their median wRC+'s before and after '91
    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.07.31 AM.png

    And lastly, here are all the player's whose median WAR changed by 1 win or more in '91 or later
    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.09.21 AM.png

    What do you guys think of these lists? Again, not a very in-depth analysis, and there are lots of confounding factors and other dilemmas, but it's worth mentioning that 3 of the first 5 players in the wRC+ department all have been connected to steroids, as have 4 of the first 10 in the median WAR change (including Daulton). So what do we think- are Robin Ventura, Kevin Mitchell, and Griffey guilty of juicing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1phillies fan382 View Post
    I figured I wanted to look at whose production increased the most in 1991 and beyond, the first year steroids were "banned" from MLB. In my code, I looked at players who played both from 1985-1990 (a good 6 season sample size) and then looking at any of any of those players who played in 1991 and/or beyond. I cut the PA size off to 1000 PA on both 1985-1990 and 1991-2006. I understand that the years I picked- 1985, 1991, and 2006 are all very arbitrary, but I figured that was my best estimate of baseball when steroid use was at a relative low, when steroid use became rampant, and when steroid use tapered off. I could be totally wrong in my estimates, but I took my best guess.

    I then looked at the players' median WAR and wRC+ before and after '91, and then calculated which players had the largest positive difference. Here's my code in case anyone is following along at home.

    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.06.25 AM.png

    Here's the top 43 players with the biggest differences in their median wRC+'s before and after '91
    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.07.31 AM.png

    And lastly, here are all the player's whose median WAR changed by 1 win or more in '91 or later
    Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.09.21 AM.png

    What do you guys think of these lists? Again, not a very in-depth analysis, and there are lots of confounding factors and other dilemmas, but it's worth mentioning that 3 of the first 5 players in the wRC+ department all have been connected to steroids, as have 4 of the first 10 in the median WAR change (including Daulton). So what do we think- are Robin Ventura, Kevin Mitchell, and Griffey guilty of juicing?
    Flawed assumptions:

    1) Players who use PED's have an immediate and noticeable bump in output.

    Look at the full list of players connected with PED's. For every Barry Bonds there are multiple Nook Logans.


    2) 1991 was a magical cutoff PED year.

    According to Juiced, they were using before that. Steroids in sports can be traced to the 1960's and amphetamines (also banned and considered PEDs) can be traced to the 1940's.


    Also of note: Look at where the players are in their careers, and try to apply a normal career trajectory.


    Of course Sammy Sosa will be on this, his first full season was 1990.

    Ken Griffey Jr had 2 seasons.

    Barry Bonds had his first breakout season in 1990, which means the numbers would not show up in the median.

    I could go on.

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    Have to take age into account. Guys who are 21 or 22 years old are obviously going to be the first ones on the list. Maybe filter for ages of guys who are at least in the beginning of their prime already.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerin Hank View Post
    Have to take age into account. Guys who are 21 or 22 years old are obviously going to be the first ones on the list. Maybe filter for ages of guys who are at least in the beginning of their prime already.

    Yeah, finding steroid users just using statistics will be very difficult (if not impossible). Even in you factor second peaks you will still get players like Hank Aaron and Ted Williams showing up.

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    I want an algorithm that fingers Brady Anderson. That year he hit 92 XHB including 50 HR looks suspicious as hell considering he hit only 87 HR in the 9 other full seasons he played on either side of that mysterious year.



    When I played, I had a natural ability to jump and run, and I just wanted to get bigger and heavier.
    Last edited by Hammerin Hank; 12-12-2016 at 06:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerin Hank View Post
    I want an algorithm that fingers Brady Anderson. That year he hit 92 XHB including 50 HR looks suspicious as hell considering he hit only 87 HR in the 9 other full seasons he played on either side of that mysterious year.
    The same algorithm that finds Brady Anderson will also find Davey Johnson and probably Wade Boggs (among others).


    That is really the issue here. There are seasons that seem obvious to us. But then there are the seasons that if we looked at blindly we would assume were (like Davey Johnson) and then there are seasons that are not obvious. Players like Andy Pettite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sturg1dj View Post
    The same algorithm that finds Brady Anderson will also find Davey Johnson and probably Wade Boggs (among others).


    That is really the issue here. There are seasons that seem obvious to us. But then there are the seasons that if we looked at blindly we would assume were (like Davey Johnson) and then there are seasons that are not obvious. Players like Andy Pettite.
    You know, had MLB made PEDs mandatory in the first place we wouldn't be having this issue. Because in other scenarios such as PEDs being banned and having no regulation on PEDs we are still left with the who-took-what debate. I'm at the point where I can accept never knowing for sure and if more people would join me then we could get many more deserving HoFers inducted and move forward from this ugly period in baseball.

    But I do find it fun trying to think of algorithms that we can develop to determine suspicion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerin Hank View Post
    You know, had MLB made PEDs mandatory in the first place we wouldn't be having this issue.
    Just lots of other ones.

  9. #9
    Here's is a problem. The average player actually saw a greater increase in home runs on a percentage basis than Barry Bonds did per at bat. I ran numbers on that a while ago, but since Bonds got a much larger share of his value from home runs to begin with, he actually saw an increase in wRC+ even though his home run rate rose by a smaller percentage than the average player. ANY factor that raises home runs by roughly a set percentage will help the guys who hit more home runs separate because they get more of their value from the thing that goes up. (This is why people are so wrong to say that it is harder to separate in a high scoring era. It is easier because there will always be top players who specialize in the area of offense that is on the rise).

    Also, by the way, anyone who thinks that someone has to take steroids to look like B. A. looks in that picture is setting a low bar for natural ability.

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    To everyone in this thread: I agree, looking at stats to determine who juiced or not is impossible, hence my title of "Half-Jokingly." Just thought I'd share for some fun. I do find it funny that some guys who've never tested positive (Bagwell, Belle, Walker, Schilling) get grouped in with PED users, while others like Griffey, Thome, Ventura, and Biggio could have never possibly touched the stuff despite playing in the same era.
    Last edited by 1phillies fan382; 12-15-2016 at 06:53 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerin Hank View Post
    I want an algorithm that fingers Brady Anderson. That year he hit 92 XHB including 50 HR looks suspicious as hell considering he hit only 87 HR in the 9 other full seasons he played on either side of that mysterious year.



    When I played, I had a natural ability to jump and run, and I just wanted to get bigger and heavier.
    lol, when Ellsbury had that 9 win season or whatever for the Red Sox with like 30 home runs and a SLG above .500, I told people on another forum that "he must have found that coveted Brady Anderson juice"

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1phillies fan382 View Post
    lol, when Ellsbury had that 9 win season or whatever for the Red Sox with like 30 home runs and a SLG above .500, I told people on another forum that "he must have found that coveted Brady Anderson juice"
    I expected many of those Ellsbury homeruns to be of the "lucky" or "just enough" variety given the odd dimensions of Fenway, but to my surprise it looks like only five of them were. What a year.

    http://www.hittrackeronline.com/deta...62&type=hitter
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1phillies fan382 View Post
    lol, when Ellsbury had that 9 win season or whatever for the Red Sox with like 30 home runs and a SLG above .500, I told people on another forum that "he must have found that coveted Brady Anderson juice"
    Joe Mauer is in the same group

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