Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Favorite Stat Lines of the Steroid Era

As we move forward from the age of Sosa, McGwire, Andro, BALCO, HGH, PED, OPP, et al, I thought it would be amusing to revisit some of the "juicier" (get it?) stat lines from the 1990's and the early naughts. It's important to note that not all of these sluggers have been painted with the skeptical brush of performance enhancing drugs. But their stat lines are staggering nonetheless. What's even more incredible is that we accepted most of these lines as somewhat normal at the time. When you take them out of context, they are even more unbelievable.

As we head into the final 10-12 games of the 2008 season, there is only one hitter with more than 40 HRs (Ryan Howard). Carlos Quentin leads the AL with 36 HRs, but he's done for the year. A-Rod and Miggy Cabrera are next with 35 and 34, respectively. We could have an AL homer champ with less than 40 HRs for the first time since Fred McGriff led the AL with 36 HRs in 1989. The Crime Dog was also the last to lead the NL in a year where nobody hit 40, hitting 35 HRs for the Padres in 1992. That guy deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Some of these lines are here because they seem impossible to comprehend (McGwire, Sosa, Bonds), some are here because they are damn impressive (Ramirez, Rodriguez, Belle) and the others are there because they are so ridiculously above the player's career averages that they seem almost farcical (Gonzalez, Walker, Burks). Many of these lines fit multiple categories.

Without further ado, here is a smattering of the ten most ridiculous stat lines of the Steroids Era(in no particular order).

Group 1: Unbelievable Seasons

1) Alex Rodriguez, 1996 Mariners: 54 2B, 36 HR, 123 RBI, 215 H, 141 R, .358 AVG, 1.045 OPS.
Amazingly well-rounded season from a guy who was 20 years old when the season started.

2) Manny Ramirez, 1999 Indians: 44 HR, 165 RBI, 131 R, .333 AVG, 1.105 OPS.
165 RBIs is the highest single-season total since Jimmie Foxx in 1938.

3) Albert Belle, 1998 White Sox: 49 HR, 152 RBI, .328 AVG, 113 R, 200 H, 48 2B, 1.054 OPS.
You can blame the juice, the anger, or his alternating first names, but Joey/Albert put up some big numbers in his prime.

Group 2: Impossible to Comprehend Seasons

4) Barry Lamar Bonds, 2001 Giants: 73 HR, 137 RBI, 177 BB, .328 AVG, 1.378 OPS
5) Barry Lamar Bonds, 2004 Giants: 45 HR, 101 RBI, .362 AVG, 232 BB, 1.421 OPS

I don't even know where to start on these seasons. I've read writers who claim that 2004 was as impressive as 2001 for Lamar. For the record, Barry holds the top 3 spots for walks in a single-season (his 198 walks in 2002 were the second-highest total).

6) Mark McGwire, Average of 1998-1999: 68 HR, 147 RBI, 124 R
7) Sammy Sosa, Average of 1998-1999: 65 HR, 149 RBI, 124 R
Unbelievably unbelievable to think that two different players would AVERAGE higher HR totals than Maris. Sosa also put together a mammoth 2001 season and averaged 61 HRs over a four-year stretch.

Group 3: More Than Just Creatine

8) Ellis Burks, 1996 Rockies: 40 HR, 128 RBI, .344 AVG, 142 R, 211 H, 45 2B, 1.047 OPS
9) Larry Walker, 1997 Rockies: 49 HR, 130 RBI, .366 AVG, 143 R, 208 H, 46 2B, 1.172 OPS
I'm sure it was just the altitude in Denver. Nothing else going on there. Just Burks, Walker, Bichette and Galarraga taking advantage of playing in the Mile High City. That's all.

10) Luis Gonzalez, 2001 Diamondbacks: 57 HR, 142 RBI, .325 AVG, 198 H, 128 R, 1.117 OPS
His career numbers were very mundane before the power surge he found in his 30's. He's now stumbling back into oblivion.


TJ said...

I hate Luis Gonzalez.

rob said...

brady anderson waves his hand limply and says 'hi, sailor'.

Rhymenocerous said...

Neither Brady nor Bagwell made the list. They didn't have a season with the all-around ridiculousness of these folks on the list.

TJ said...

Right now rob is furiously googling away trying to find an absurd Bagwell season. Book it.

rob said...

brady's line in 1996 - 50 hr, 110 rbi, .396/.639/1.035 (obp/slg/ops)

brady's highest hr total other than '96 - 24

brady's career line - .362/.425/.789

arguably the greatest out of context season in history.

rob said...

so close, teej.

rob said...

i also ran into some disturbing 'fashion' shots of brady while researching that. some things you can't unsee.

rob said...

bagwell had a 1.201 ops (with a .750 slg!) in '94 against a career .948. that's pretty impressive.

Rhymenocerous said...

You coulda made a guess on some numbers from the abridged '94 season. Matt Williams was on pace to have a ridiculous season. He hit 43 HRs and 96 RBIs, although the team only played 115 games. If I do some fancy calculus, I deduce that he was on pace for 60 HRs and 135 RBIs. And two shriveled balls.

TJ said...

Wow, I completely forgot Matt Williams even existed.

Rhymenocerous said...

So did his barber. Bitch was bald.

rob said...

from the big lead: Back in sixth grade, we used to play a game with a friend: Name an NBA player, and guess the college he went to.

um, i still do that. you think you're better than me, asshole?

Mark said...

I love that game. I used to be get every player. Now, I'm thinking more like 90%.

rob said...

yeah, me too. i was once nearly unbeatable. sadly, i'm slipping. like willie mays stumbling around the outfield as a met.

TJ said...

Oh brother, here we go again...

LAS VEGAS - Jurors who have been told to refrain from judging O.J. Simpson on his past heard a recording Thursday of a police employee exulting: "This is great. ... California can't get him. ... Now we'll be able to."

Mark said...

So yeah, West Virgina sucks, huh?

TJ said...

Whit, you'll be psyched to know some dude in my section is wearing a Mets Kazmir jersey...ouch. But at least Victor Zambrano worked out.

Mark said...

Seriously, West Virginia is horrible. Is Bill Stewart the worst coach...ever?

TJ said...

Bill Stewart is to coaching what this guy is to bank robbing:

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) - A man acquitted a month ago of robbing a bank has been arrested in another robbery at the same bank. The man, 35, was accused of robbing Liberty Bank on Tuesday, police say.

The man was acquitted Aug. 21 of robbing the bank last October after employees could not positively identify him during his trial.

Whitney said...

Watching Lastings Milledge's "play' in the first inning in CF last night (and Brian Schneider's 2-HR effort) helps me think the Mets are in better GM hands these days. That was somethin' special.

Rob Dauster said...

seriously though, brady anderson doesn't make this list? i think hafner coulda been thrown on too.

TJ said...

That's a great point on Hafner. You can't spell PED without P(ronk).