Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling
You have numerous misunderstandings in your post.
I didn't say steroid usage was at it's height in the 80s and 90s. I said the strength and effectiveness of the steroids was highest in the 80's and 90's. Back then players were taking the hardest drugs. Once it was realized that those drugs were so harmful players began taking less dangerous (and less effective) drugs that were also harder to test for. That trend has been continuing ever since then to the point where the PEDs being used now are so weak that they do nothing.
Steroids were at their highest rate of use just before the league began suspending players for positive tests in 2005. If steroids were the reason scoring was elevated then scoring should have continued to rise dramatically well beyond the year 2000 -- but it didn't, it actually declined.
If you really want to learn more about the PEDs issue you can read lots of reports on Baseball Prospectus. You can start with Baseball Between the Numbers
and Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers
, which are books published by Baseball Prospectus. Or you can read the studies by sports scientists like physicist Robert Adair who wrote The Physics of Baseball
and other works to find out many reasons why scoring has increased. Scientists like Adair and DeVany have concluded that steroids do not contribute to more home runs. Saber-god Nate Silver proved that home run spikes by individual players were neither more common nor more drastic in the 90s than in previous decades (What Do Statistics Tell Us About Steroids?
). Sabermetrics folks have also come to the conclusion that the statistics prove that steroids had very little if any impact on home run hitting. It is a very interesting subject and there is an absolute ton of information out there. The changes in the baseballs themselves and how they have become much livelier over the years is a well-documented subject. Bats have also become denser and more able to hit the ball harder. Go to http://steroids-and-baseball.com/
for more information than you can handle about why steroids and other PEDs have had a negligible effect on the game of baseball.
It is nice to see that you acknowledge that players are bigger and stronger now than they were during the steroids era, yet power has fallen considerably. Hard to square that with the argument that power spiked because players were bigger due to steroids.
You also acknowledge that scoring peaked in 2000 and was dropping during the years when steroid usage was most widespread. It is also true that there was no sudden drop in scoring after PED testing and punishment was instituted. Nope, the decline in scoring continued at the same rate it had been since 2001. If steroids had been the cause for increased scoring and power then there should have been a dramatic drop when players began being suspended for cheating -- but there wasn't.
Reasons why scoring increased during the 90's:
Reasons why scoring has been steadily declining since 2000:
- Expansion by adding four new teams led to weaker pitching.
- New ballparks were smaller than the old ones.
- Coor's Field introduced high-altitude to MLB.
- The balls were much more springy and lively so they bounced farther off the bat. The biggest change began in mid-1993.
- The bats became denser and harder and were shaped so there is more weight in the sweet spot and less weight wasted in the handle.
- Players became bigger and stronger and faster and more athletic due to strength training and fitness training.
- The population in general has gotten taller and larger over the generations.
- Teams learned that On-Base % and Slugging Percentage were better than Batting Average and speed.
- AstroTurf was replaced by real grass, which slowed down the game and made power more valuable than speed.
- Smaller strike zone (unless you were a Brave)
- Tommy John surgery and other sports surgeries have become commonplace even for minor leaguers and amateur pitchers. This has kept the best pitchers on the mound instead of ending their careers and causing them to be replaced by minor leaguers who otherwise would not be in the major leagues. This has made a HUGE difference. A large percentage of the best pitchers in baseball have suffered arm injuries that would have ended their careers last century, but they got repaired and are back on the mound as good as new.
- Larger populations and expanded scouting in foreign countries led to a larger pool of pitching talent.
- Coor's Field began use of the humidor to reduce scoring.
- A dramatic increase in the usage of the cut fastball or cutter, which has proven to be an extremely effective pitch.
- Pitch speeds have been steadily and dramatically rising throughout this period.
- Video technology has led to creation of hitter spray charts and dramatically increased usage of defensive shifting to take hits away from batters.
- Video technology has led to heat graphs for hitters to identify and expose their weaknesses. (Video tech has favored pitchers much more than hitters).
- Teams have increased emphasis on defensive skill after the new sabermetric defensive stats proved how many extra runs were allowed by poor defenders.
- Increased usage of situational relievers and greater awareness of platoon splits.
- Better development of pitching prospects based on data that led to greater awareness of why young pitchers were getting hurt (mainly overwork).
- Increased usage of pitch counts to prevent pitchers from getting injured.
- Some of the newer ballparks were larger, reversing the trend of building smaller and smaller fields.
- Improved calling of balls and strikes by umpires after the Questec and PITCHf/x systems were installed have led to larger and more consistent strikezones.
So you can see there is a myriad of reasons why scoring and power increased for awhile, then decreased for awhile. There is no need to believe that steroids were the driving force. The rise and fall of steroids does not line up with the ebb and flow of scoring or power, there is not a good correlation.
I believe it is important to eradicate PEDs from baseball and punish the cheaters. I think this is important because it will help the game's image and help us all move past this subject once and for all. PEDs are bad for the players' health and it sets a terrible example for young people.
I think it is hilarious that the cheaters risked their health and ruined their reputations and their cheating didn't really end up helping them on the baseball field. They struck a deal with the Devil to gain an advantage and as usual the Devil double-crossed them. They sold their souls to the Devil and got nothing in return. Serves them right.
Numbers not directly in response to your numbers...
1) Just because in baseball history there have been spikes does not mean the recent spike was not caused by PED's.
2) How does ballpark size make any sense out of the recent dip in power? In fact, you can state that over and over again. Same thing with the idea of watered down pitching.
3) Any of that talk about how steroids do not help hit home runs is nothing but slight of hand. Steroids and overall fitness helps recovery. Anyone can tell you the grind of a 162 game schedule. Even if you want to fight the absolute stupidity that these guys were not able to hit better on PED's, there is no doubt PED's help recovery time and allow athletes to perform at their peak all year long.
4) Juiced ball theory has never been proven. Please don't act like it's a fact.
5) Your theory about steroids is in no way proven, and if anything steroids have become better not worse. Use of PED's continues to get refined for performance. Stating the 80's and 90's were somehow better but more dangerous is naive.
6) The guy that said the recent home run surge is no different than any point in history is a moron. I don't care who how smart you think he is, he is an idiot. You know why it spiked around 1970 (which he points to as the big spike)? They freaking lowered the mound in 1969. What kind of idiot does not correlate that to his numbers as a reason? Instead he talks about greenies. No self respecting baseball fan would ignore the lowering of the mound as the main reason for increase in offense. On top of all of that, he uses park factors for adjustment. You know how they get park factors? From stats. Introducing park factors across eras is incredibly stupid and I have no idea how any statistician could say he could accurately represent how Babe Ruth would have hit in Petco Park by using park factors. It's an inherently terrible analysis when you consider the recent proliferation of ballparks in the steroid era. Those parks have only existed in a steroid era, and therefore will naturally reduce offensive numbers for players that played in them vs. the players that played in the early 70's where they played in ballparks that existed during a really low offensive era (which changed due to the height of the mound). On top of all of that stupidity, he is basing all his information on power spikes for players already in the major leagues. It's not like these guys are showing up in MLB, hit without PED's for a while, and then decide to take PED's. Most of them start out taking PED's before they even hit the majors. So a guy who shows up hitting home runs won't show up as a spike in his data even though that guy is hitting more home runs at the start of his career vs. someone of another era. The plain and simple fact is home runs and runs in general were way up. More than ever in the history of the game, and it was not all ballparks. There have always been small ballparks, and let's just say Petco, ATT, Safeco, PNC, Comerica (especially the early years when it was HUGE), Citizens, Busch, and many others are in no way smaller than their predecessors and in many of those cases much larger.
7) Once again, bat tech is still the same now vs. the 2000s. In fact it should be better, but somehow runs and home runs are going down.
8) The dilution theory is garbage. First of all, pitching specialization continued to increase. Second, it's not like the numbers of hitters doesn't also increase. Third, population increases including the incorporation of more foreign players more than makes up for any supposed dilution. Fourth, baseball has continued to add teams throughout it's history, why is that ignored for past eras. Finally, dilution creates further separation between the good and bad, but norm stays the same for the most part. So you can use dilution as a theory for individual records, but for overall league stats it's a poor argument.
9) Human height has not changed as much as you want to believe, and in fact as I mentioned the height of the average major leaguer did not change much from about 1979 to 2007, yet weight did. Of course weight doesn't matter per you since added strength doesn't improve hitting. So not sure why you bring that up.
10) Once again, grass, strike zone, slugging/on base percentage are all things known or proliferated in the last 4 years, but stats have declined. So many of your arguments would mean there would be no dip in the last 4 years, but there has been. So they must be thrown out.
Finally, there has not been a steady decline since 2000. Please stop with that outright lie. As I stated, 2000-2004 had more home runs per game than 96-99. There has not been any real decline until the last 4 years or so. Humidor started in 2002. As stated, this occurred in the 2001 to 2004 years I talked about. Proliferation of surgery techniques is also true for hitters, same with foreign hitters. You can't look at pitchers in a vacuum. Video tech also works for hitters, and defensive alignment doesn't stop home runs (which are down). Larger ballparks were introduced before the 2007 without any appreciable difference (ATT, Petco, Safeco, and Comerica, which is now much smaller, are examples). As for improved calling of balls and strikes, how does that lower home runs? Is there some sort of evidence that being more accurate somehow causes hitters to hit worse? Maybe there is and I am missing something, but were umpires favoring hitters before Pitchfx and that is now corrected.
Anyway, we pretty much disagree. I suppose I will side with the sheer number of baseball players willing to risk their health over something that works vs. something that doesn't. In fact, I can't believe anyone thinks performance enhancing drugs doesn't help athletes hit better.
I won't say some of those things you mentioned had no effect on the game, but performance enhancing drugs certainly did.