Friday, June 11, 2010

MLB Power Outage

DBSF was in the gym and on the TV Sportscenter was running a blurb about this season representing AROD's least amount of home runs in his first 58 games since like 1995. Immediately, DBSF associated with the deficiency of steroids flowing through AROD's veins. But, perhaps AROD's an anomoly in his power outage?

DBSF decided to conduct a brief study. MLB implemented its drug policy that banned the use of performance enhancing substances in the spring of 2006. So, DBSF decided to compare the performance of high home run hitters three years before the policy (2004-2006) with their performance three years after (2007-2009) it was implemented.

For players, DBSF used the top ten MLB home run hitters from the 2006 season. An obvious limitation to this method is that we would expect hitters who were in the later stages of their career in 2006, like Jim Thome, to experience a decline in home run output because of age, which would confound a relationship with potential steroid use. Of course, inversely we would expect younger power hitters, like Ryan Howard, to increase their productivity as they became naturally physically stronger and more acclimated to MLB pitchers. (Howard first appeared in the MLB in 2004.)

The results are interesting if not surprising. For the ten players in the study the average number of games per home run increased from 3.9 in the three seasons before the policy was implemented to 4.7 in the three seasons after the policy was implemented. (A player is hitting more home runs if their games per home run average is low. For example, an average of 1.0 games/ HR means the player will hit 162 home runs on the season if they play every game. Conversely, if a player plays every game but as a 162.0 game/ HR then they will hit 1 HR for the season.)

In fact, every player in the top ten of home run hitters in 2006 experienced an increase in the number of games it took him to hit a home run from the three seasons prior to the policy being implemented to the three season following (i.e., after drug testing was implemented, on average these players hit fewer home runs).

Below lists each player, his average number of games per home run from 2004-2006, and his average number of games per home run from 2007-2009. Travis Hafner and Andruw Jones appear to experience the greatest drop off as in the later seasons (2007-2009) it takes them approximately twice as many games to hit a home run as in the earlier seasons (2004-2006).

Player - 2004-2006 Games/ HR - 2007-2009 Games/ HR
Ryan Howard - 3.2 - 3.3
David Ortiz - 3.2 - 4.7
Albert Pujols - 3.4 - 4.0
Alfonso Soriano - 4.2 - 4.4
Lance Berkman - 4.5 - 5.1
Jermaine Dye - 4.4 - 4.9
Jim Thome - 3.8 - 4.4
Travis Hafner - 3.9 - 6.7
Andruw Jones - 3.9 - 6.8
Carols Beltran - 4.7 - 5.5

Total - 3.9 - 4.7

Keep in mind this list doesn't include players conventionally associated with performance enhacing substances like Jason Giambi, AROD, Mark McGwire, or Sammy Sosa.

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