Fizzle7's Blog

Steroids in baseball.

Steroids were added to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act in the Anabolic Steroid Act of 1990, which means that before 1990, it was NOT illegal to possess or use anabolic steroids.

So the question I pose to you is: if steroids are so bad for baseball, why are the numbers before 1990 not astronomically high? Why did we not see a dramatic decline in HRs or extra base hits after 1990?

Simple answer: Major League Baseball did not take steps to ensure steroids were not being used until 2003.

But this still does not make sense to me. I understand that illegal substances are much easier for sports figures and other highly visible celebrities to get their hands on than us regular folk, even though one search on Google can produce at least 20 legitimate sites to purchase steroids from. But we still should have seen a dramatic drop from when they were legal and when they became illegal.

Let's break down the numbers a bit and see exactly what they look like, shall we.

HRs by year for the MLB:
1980 - 3,087
1981 - 1,781  Labor Strike
1982 - 3,379
1983 - 3,301
1984 - 3,258
1985 - 3,602
1986 - 3,813
1987 - 4,458
1988 - 3,180
1989 - 3,083
1990 - 3,317
1991 - 3,383
1992 - 3,038
Two New Teams For Next Year - Rockies & Marlins
1993 - 4,030
1994 - 3,306  Labor Strike
1995 - 4,081
1996 - 4,962
1997 - 4,640
Two New Teams For Next Year - Diamondbacks & Devil Rays
1998 - 5,064
1999 - 5,528

Let's break this down a bit more for a more accurate representation.

Average HRs per team by year:
1980 - 118.7
1981 - Labor strike year
1982 - 130
1983 - 127
1984 - 125.3
1985 - 138.5
1986 - 146.7
1987 - 171.5
1988 - 122.3
1989 - 118.6
1990 - 127.6
1991 - 130.1
1992 - 116.9
1993 - 143.9
1994 - Labor strike year
1995 - 145.7
1996 - 177.2
1997 - 165.7
1998 - 168.8
1999 - 184.3

From 1980-1989, the 10 years proceeding steroids becoming illegal, MLB teams averaged 133.2 HRs per year.

From 1990-1999, the 10 years after steroids became illegal, MLB teams averaged 151.1 HRs per year. So the average went up by 20 HRs per team per year the 10 years following them becoming illegal.

Baseball, unlike other professional sports, was slow to implement mandatory steroid testing. In 2003 the MLB implemented its first steroid testing policy. So lets look at some the numbers following that.

Total HRs by year:
1998 - 5064
1999 - 5528
2000 - 5693
2001 - 5458
2002 - 5059
2003 - 5207
2004 - 5451
2005 - 5017
2006 - 5386
2007 - 4957

Average HRs per team per year:
1998 - 168.8
1999 - 184.3
2000 - 189.8
2001 - 181.9
2002 - 168.6
2003 - 173.6
2004 - 181.7
2005 - 167.2
2006 - 179.5
2007 - 165.3

From 1998-2002, the 5 years before the testing policy came into effect, teams averaged 178.7 HRs per year.

From 2003-2007, the 5 years after the testing policy went into effect, teams averaged 173.46.

So while numbers are slowly declining, so are the numbers of users. In 2003, when the policy went into affect, 5-7% of players tested positive. As of last season, less than 2% of players annually were testing positive for "performance enhancing drugs". While the numbers for other illegal substances continue to climb.

In 2005 the MLB stiffened their enforcement policy on steroids. The penalties for a positive result are:

First offense: 10 day suspension
Second offense: 30 day suspension
Third offense: 60 day suspension
Fourth offense: A one year suspension

And all these suspensions are without pay.

If steroids, and other "performance enhancing drugs", are such a brute force in baseball, then why were players in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, when steroids were still legal to possess and use, not surpassing Hank Aarons record left and right?

My question is how, exactly, are steroids ruining the game of baseball as most "experts" say? The "experts" have made steroids out to be the black plague of modern baseball, and then fans simply regurgitate this notion into "common knowledge".

I hate to think that people are turning away from baseball because they feel the players are cheaters and their numbers are skewed. The cases of cheaters are few and far between, very well publicized, but nonetheless, few and far between. Even though meat heads, like Jose Canseco, claim that 85% of players in the MLB are using them.


Barry Bonds


I also do not believe that "performance enhancing drugs" were the ONLY reason Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aarons all time HR record.

Barry Bonds has a beautiful swing, much like Griffey Jr. in his prime, and he is an excellent hitter. While "performance enhancing drugs" should be banned and are illegal to use in professional sports they are NOT the ONLY reason Barry Bonds now holds the HR record. Contrary to popular belief, steroids do not turn you into the Incredible Hulk and make every swing of the bat an instant HR. They do increase your strength which in turn makes what may have otherwise been a long fly ball out, a game changing HR.

The user of said "performance enhancing drugs", however, must also possess other skills that steroids do not aid with. Such as the ability to read the pitch count and know what pitch may be coming next, or the ability to see the spin on a curveball as it leaves the pitchers hand. The fact is that "performance enhancing drugs" cannot smash a 95 MPH fastball into the stands...but Barry Bonds can.

With all that being said, I do believe that Barry Bonds cheated and definitely should have an asterisk next to his record, but know that the man was a great hitter before he decided to cheat. While he may not have hit as many HRs as he did without "the cream", as he did with, he was a freak with his training regimen and he still would have had a Hall of Fame type career.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, while steroids and other "performance enhancing drugs" are bad for baseball, they are not the epidemic that some would have you believe, they are not the only reason players hit HRs, and they should NOT define this era in baseball history. To do that would be an insult to the game in general and all the players who played their careers clean.


Remember to keep your posts clean. Profanity will get filtered, and offensive comments will be removed.

Start Your Own Blog

Start Now

Truth & Rumors


  1. 1
    Tuukka Rask takes blame for Bruins' Game 1 loss
  2. 2
    Smush Parker allegedly punches high schooler
  3. 3
    Joel Quenneville's Midnight Hawk favored to win Illinois Derby
  4. 4
    Quarterback freefalling down draft boards
  5. 5
    Oklahoma State pays Peyton Manning $105K for speech

SI Photos