In Response To Ridiculousness

John Harper of the New York Daily News put on his best Damien Cox impression for his readership this morning by writing a column fishing for a connection between Jose Bautista and performance enhancing drugs. While he stopped short of justifying his smear job through the lunacy of suggesting that “you gotta ask the question,” Haper does end his piece on Bautista with an incendiary ”Let’s hope he’s legit.”

It would be kind of interesting to see what the response to Harper’s piece would be if we altered some of the details and replaced Bautista’s name with another home run hitter currently enjoying a power surge: the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson. Now, I understand that Bautista’s emergence as a power hitter isn’t an exact parallel to Granderson’s, but there are quite a few similarities.

And so . . .

Nearly two months into the season, it seems safe to say that Curtis Granderson is even better than the player that Brian Cashman and the Yankees believed he could be when the team traded Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Detroit Tigers, and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks in order to acquire him. But who is Granderson, exactly? Is it too early to say he is the successor to Alex Rodriguez as the most feared hitter on the Yankees?

One thing is for sure: As he backs up his 14 home runs during the last two months of 2010 with another stunning show of power in 2011, Granderson has become one of the must-see sluggers in the game.

For that matter, with power pitching dominating baseball again, Granderson is a power-hitting sensation the sport desperately needs these days.

Let’s hope he’s clean.

Sorry, but even in this drug-testing era, it’s impossible not to be suspicious when someone suddenly starts hitting home runs at a higher rate than at any other point in his career at the age of 30. Unfortunately, steroids forever hardened us to the romance of power surges, especially when baseball still has no test for human growth hormone.

At the very least, however, as he increased his home run total to 16 with two dingers in the Yankees series against the Mets, Granderson is proving that the end of last year was no fluke. If we match the last two months of last year, with the first two months of this season, the Yankees center fielder equals his career high season total from 2009.

The mechanical adjustment theory is at the root of Granderson’s transformation. In mid-August, just before his home run surge, Kevin Long, the Yankees hitting coach, spent two days with Granderson to totally reform his swing.

At age 29, Long worked with Granderson to cut down on his long swing which would theoretically improve his performance specifically against left handed pitching. The result has been the 30 home runs since August 14, 2010, only Jose Bautista has more since that date.

Granderson doesn’t have the bulked-up look of Barry Bonds back in the day, or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa. But he seems to be gaining that type of aura as a slugger.

It’s hard not to cringe when you hear comparisons to names that are forever associated with steroids. Of course, the name that personified the phoniness of the numbers during that era was Brady Anderson.

At age 32, presumably with the help of performance-enhancers, the Orioles outfielder hit 50 home runs in 1996, or 26 more than in any other year in his career.

And it wasn’t long before McGwire was hitting 70, Bonds was hitting 73, and we all became numb to the longball.

Now the game needs someone to bring it back, maybe even make a run at 60 again. Granderson is a great story. Let’s just hope he’s legit.

Comments (20)

  1. I just threw up. I love how everyone goes to HGH even though there’s zero proof it does anything for performance. What a crock of shit.

  2. As a Jays fan living in New York. This is exactly what I needed. I have been making this argument all month in a much less eloquent manner and with “a**hole” said more often.

  3. Unfortunately, due to the era, any great performance will be questioned by someone. As a Yankee fan, the parallels are definitely different, but I would agree that the result is similar in that people are surprised. It’s unexpected and for that, people will question it.

    With Granderson, the difference comes from the fact that he had hit 30 HR in a season, where Bautista hit half that many before breaking out last year. It stands out more. It doesn’t mean anyone is guilty or should be in question. It just means Bautista’s performance is more surprising.

    Your point comes across fairly.

  4. Here’s another steaming pile (this time from a Boston writer):

    http://www.weei.com/sports/boston/baseball/red-sox/kirk-minihane/2011/05/24/adrian-gonzalez-best-hitter-baseball

    See Bautista’s write-up at #4.

  5. Oh man, do yourself a favour and avoid the comment section of that NY article. Holy crap, people are dumb.

  6. I love how just because it’s never happened before, suddenly that means he must be on something.

  7. It’s just a matter of open mindedness and looking beyond the easy answers. No one every talks about Alex Sanchez’s PED use and how little it affected his game. We just like the idea of that easy answer for a player improving when players don’t normally improve.

  8. “the difference comes from the fact that he had hit 30 HR in a season, where Bautista hit half that many before breaking out last year.”

    No one who makes this point ever seems to acknowledge that Bautista was never a full-time, every day player before 2010. He played less than half as many games in 2009 as he did in 2010 or something like that.

  9. its just lazy, irresponsible journalism, and its the reason more and more people go online to get their news and sports..

    the sheer stupidity of it all is the most ridiculous part.. HGH or other PEDs turns a 16 HR hitter into a 50+ HR hitter? ummm no, thats ridiculous, if that we’re the case, Arod would have hit 100 HR’s on juice, instead he spiked up 10-12, but he was already very good…

    Unless the movie Limitless was based on Jose Bautista, and he has a magic pill that would turn someone in to the best baseball player ever. Its ridiculous to assume that because of his surge, that he’s on PEDs. people who think that, or even speculate, have zero idea of the impact and the benefits of PEDs.

    Give John macdonald PEDs and 500 ABs and he doesn’t crack 15 HRs. period.

  10. Coming from a writer for the team that employed Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Aaron Boone, Andy Pettite, Kevin Brown, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch and of course Alex Rodriguez I suppose there is some expertise.

    Here’s a new article for Mr Harper: how many relief pitchers have remained effective into their early fourties without the help of performance enhancers? I smell a rat, and he’s wearing a Yankee’s uniform. Let’s just hope Mariano Rivera is legit…

  11. @sadp:

    You beat me to it. It’s a case of selectively choosing stats. Yes Granderson has hit 30 HR before and before 2010 Bautista’s highest was 15. But that ignores the fact that they had ~700 PA and ~400-450 PA respectively.

  12. I love the Boston writer’s list of top 10 hitters. He says Braun is better than Fielder, than ranks Fielder higher. Only a Boston guy would put Youkilis as a top 10 hitter because of his walks. And then conveniently ignores Bautista’s walks entirely. He’s not just hitting home runs. He’s being extremely selective.

  13. @sadp and Matt_CC

    Fair point for sure. But in ’07 Bautista had 614 PAs for 15 HR…in ’10 683 PAs for 54 HR, we all know those numbers. Granderson’s 30 HR were his highest and he hasn’t even gotten back to it yet, that’s why it’s too early to draw a parallel. Maybe after the season, if Curtis hits 45+ HR we’ve got a parallel to draw.

    You can pick any section of 600 – 700 ABs for Bautista and his total is low in comparison to his breakout year.

    To me, it’s more interesting to look at it on per plate appearance improvement:
    2006 – 2009: 2335 plate appearances with 74 HR, 1 HR per 31.5 PAs

    2010: 683 PA with 54 HR, 1 HR per 12.6 PAs

    That’s quite an improvement. It’s not to say he can’t have improved that much. It just doesn’t happen very often, so people are surprised.

  14. There are some sort of similar parallels out there like George Foster, who suddenly at age 29 hit 50 homeruns after never hitting more than 23 and 29 (in a lot more plate appearances than Bautista when he hit 16). Then there’s Maris as well. Were either of those guys on steroids?

  15. Carlos Pena and David Ortiz are good examples..

    Although Ortiz has been linked to PEDs so that may not be the best example.. but the twins tried to take away his strength and make him a oppo field hitter, red sox said do what you gotta do, and he became a good hitter..

    Its not unprecedented for a player to find his stride later on his his career.. Randy Johnson’s 20′s were mediocre at best, around 30,31 the light went off, and he became the most dominant pitcher in the league for a while.

  16. When some dumpy little team with fraction of your payroll starts building an organization that in 2 or 3 years will be the envy of the league, do not be surprised when some carp (err bottom feeders) start striking out at you. What will come out is the truth, if Bautista is clean, the truth will come out, if he isn’t, the truth will come out. In the mean time, and in between time, enjoy this surge by Bautista, because it is only a matter of time before somebody will find the hole in his swing, and they will pound him there.

  17. i dont want to start any sh*t between our boy Parkes and John Harper but I would love to retweet this article to Harper to see how he reacts when the HGH angle is used on a Yankee… Great reply Parkes!

  18. First of all @Klemy, I would like to commend you for being a rational Yankee fan and admitting that Dustin’s point comes across fairly and recognizing that while that is certainly a possible explanation in Bautista’s case, it is not a) a certainty and b) the only possible explanation for his rise to stardom. I stand and applaud you. You are unique in the sea of the typical [Getting Blanked]ing Chatty Cathy doll that we see populating the comments sections of newspapers across North America. Yes, pull the string on these intellectually bankrupt degenerates and you’ll get the typical knee jerk “PED, steroids, HGH, obvious, 1,000 percent certain, no doubt about it” recording played over and over and over and over again…Ugh. There’s simply no other possible explanation for it in the pea sized brains of these assclowns and after a while…Well…It becomes tiresome because you can’t prove a negative, and even if you did, they wouldn’t believe it anyway.

    Secondly @Dustin Parkes: Job well done sir. [Getting Blanked]ing Nails!!!!!!!!!!

  19. @Deeka: Why wait for Parkes’ permission? Retweet away. That way John Harper’s feet can be held to the same fire poor Jerod Morris’ feet were held to a couple of years ago. We know Kenny Ken Ken (Rosenthal) and Geoff Baker aren’t going to rip a brother in arms, so I say go for it, and though I don’t know Parkes at all, I’m pretty sure he would too. I would think that he wouldn’t have posted this article if he didn’t like a good tussle.

  20. @Headspace: Bautista’s last 979 PA:

    .278/.399/.658/1.057; 808 AB, 169 R, 225 H, 46 2B, 6 3B, 83 HR, 177 RBI, 152 BB, 164 K, 13 HBP, 13 GDP, 14 SB, 3 CS.

    This suggests that while his current 1.300+ OPS is most likely unsustainable, a 1.050+ OPS is definitely not out of the question, and that is a very, very, very good hitter. After 979 PA, you would think these MLB pitchers would’ve found these holes you’re talking about, but every time they adjust to him, he adjusts right back.

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