Monday, March 15, 2004

Perhaps Not of The Blight of His Times

Consistent sluggers like Fred McGriff may find their reputations rehabilitated by baseball's steroid controversy.

As well they should be. McGriff and his closest equivalent, Rafael Palmeiro, are currently undervalued by both the "common fan" and sabrenerds; though I don't expect the latter to change their opinions, the former may reasses those hitters who showed consistency -- infering that they didn't "juice" -- from the pre-steroids late 1980s through the current age where 50 home runs per year is a total to shrug at.

Obviously the point is that McGriff didnt benefit from the cheap home run era, yet he cannot be slagged off easily, for he was a bonafide power hitter through the mid-to-late 80s. His totals are fairly consistent throughout. Just this consistency is a weapon to hold against those who wish to minimise the effect of steroids on power hitters by instead blaming the inflated numbers on new bat material, watered-down pitching skills, or smaller ballparks. One may safely assume that McGriff employed new bat technology as it became avaliable; McGriff was opponent to the same pitchers as were other sluggers; McGriff played in fairly neutral parks throughout his career.

Of course this is "unscientific," easily explained away by the steroids-apologists, but those who have grown fed-up with cheating in baseball can at least probably safely champion Fred McGriff as a "what if?" example to those of the future who will wonder just how pronounced the effect of steroids was on Home Run numbers in this blighted era.