The steroid era in baseball is – on the surface – over. From 1998 to 2006, MLB players hit a total of at least 5,000 home runs per season. In 2007 and 2008 the total dipped below 5,000 before jumping back up to 5,042 in 2009. Since then, the number has remained below 5,000 per year with an average of 4,690 dingers in a season from 2010-2014.
The repercussions from the ’roid days are certainly still being heard in the court of public opinion as whenever a hitter goes on a home run streak, the steroid cat calls are sure to follow. Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira already has 14 home runs so far this season, and at 35-years-old he’s a prime candidate for juicing accusations. This is especially true considering he hit just 22 dingers last season and just 24 in 2012 (he played in just 15 games in 2013 due to injury).
With all that said, can’t a guy just get hot anymore?
Babe Ruth was still having 40-plus home run seasons in his mid-30s. Ted Williams had one of his best years at 38. Aside from a handful of conspiracy theorists, those guys weren’t on steroids. Players are capable of having big years late in their careers.
The sports world has become so paranoid about steroids than even a relatively young player like Mets first baseman Lucas Duda had some raising their brows when his home run total jumped from 15 to 30 last year. Duda is on pace to get to 30 again this season as he is mashing the ball, owning a .298 batting average with nine homers.
Teixeira had 30-plus home runs years from 2008-2011 and his career high was 43 in 2005 when he was in Texas.
Both Teixeira and Duda have their teams in contention, as the Yankees (26-25) are tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East and the Mets (28-23) are a game and a half behind Washington for first place in the NL East.