NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 21, 2006

To argue that the great achievements of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds are due to steroids is about as silly as saying you could create a Mozart or Beethoven by injecting them with a music drug, says Arthur De Vany, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of California, Irvine.

So, why do all the attempts at explaining an increase in Major League Baseball (MLB) home runs fail?  Because they are attempting to explain something that has not happened; in fact, there are no more home runs in baseball than before, when the problem is properly analyzed, says De Vany:

  • Once the number of games and other variables are factored into home run productivity and the random nature of home run hitting is taken into account, there is no change.
  • That may be why all the attempts at explanation, such as steroids, hotter balls, altered strike zones, and home-run-friendly ball parks fall apart when they are tested.
  • There is a lot of speculation about steroid use in MLB, but overall, little evidence.
  • Moreover, scientific literature shows that steroids and the high volume training required to induce muscle hypertrophy would actually decrease the speed required to hit home runs.

More importantly, there is no evidence to support a drastic law mandating testing, says De Vany.

It took more than 80 years and more than 100,000 player-years of baseball for 5 home run hitters of outstanding caliber to appear, and we have been lucky enough to witness three of them in the past few years. To diminish their accomplishments on the basis of speculations and rumors about steroids is profoundly ignorant of the statistical laws of human accomplishment, says De Vany.

Source: Arthur De Vany, "Steroids, Home Runs and the Law of Genius," Art De Vany, 2006.


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