In the middle of this storm of anti-Rodriguez hype, a calm voice from sabermetrician J.C. Bradbury presents the case that the two steroids A-Rod took most likely had no impact on his performance: “It’s probably best to say that there was no observed effect. It is possible that the steroids did give Rodriguez a boost, and this may have helped him through an injury or some other factor that my estimate does not account for. It’s also likely that he had more home runs than expected through random chance.” Check out Bradbury’s reasoned argument at Sabernomics.com.
We did some checking on our own.
From 1998-2000, while with the Seattle Mariners, A-Rod played about half his games at the Kingdome and then at Safeco Field. Over those three seasons, he hit 125 home runs, just 51 at home and 74 on the road. As any decent baseball analyst knows, it’s road performance on which a hitter’s real reputation should be based – a home park might distort one’s stats, but averaged out over all other league ballparks you get a more accurate assessment of a slugger’s real ability.
The Seattle parks were among the league’s toughest when A-Rod was there. As we all know, in 2001 he moved to the Rangers, where he played his home games in The Ballpark at Arlington. From 2001-2003 he hit 156 home runs, 31 more than during his three years with the Mariners. As this was the period during which he admitted to taking Primobolan and testosterone, this looks very much as of he did get some sort of artificial boost. The problem is that over the same period he hit 70 home runs on the road – actually four fewer than his road record with Seattle.
It may be no coincidence that over those three years the Rangers ballpark was one of the best hitters parks in the game. If steroids were inflating A-Rod’s record over those three reasons, why were they only inflating them when he was playing at home? It could and probably will be argued that he might have been juicing while playing for Seattle, but if so why did the effects of the juice not show up with he was playing at home?
Rodriguez did get a bump while playing for the Rangers, but it very much appears as if it was from his home ballpark. It may or may not be relevant that in the five years he has played for the Yankee he has slightly better at home – 110 home runs at Yankee Stadium, 98 around the rest of the league.