Opinion: How I Would Make MLB’s Home Run Records Finally Fair
With Albert Pujols approaching and in some cases passing others on the Major League Baseball home run records list, the issue of whether some cheated to attain their place has come back into focus. I have an idea that I believe would fairly fix those coveted records once and for all.
After Albert Pujols hit his 697th home run to pass Alex Rodriguez for 4th on Major League Baseball's career home run record list, many brought up the issue of Rodriguez admitted guilt of performance-enhancing drugs saying his record shouldn't have been there in the first place. That's a valid point and I have an idea, but it's going to take some math.
Before I present my idea, let's admit that right now there is more to hitting a baseball than just muscle. There's extraordinary hand-eye coordination and timing required to not only hit a baseball, but to hit it out of a major league stadium. That's why I think throwing out the records altogether isn't really fair either even though I think any record obtained using unfair means should be adjusted.
Here's what I propose: If a player admits or is implicated in court that they took performance-enhancing drugs, reduce their statistics by the same percentage of muscle weight they put on from their rookie season to their last.
I'll use the two players who have confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs as an example: Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire. According to Baseball Reference, Alex Rodriguez was 195 pounds his rookie year in Seattle. By his final year, his weight was 230 pounds. That means he gained 35 pounds during his career which is approximately a 16% gain. His career home run total was 696. Reduce that total by 16% takes away about 43 home runs. That would make his career total 653.
Mark McGwire weighed 225 pounds his rookie year according to Baseball Reference. Wikipedia says his playing weight by the end of his career was 245. That's about a 10% weight gain. He finished his career with 583 home runs. Reduce his career home run total by 10% (58) and you get around 525.
What about players like Barry Bonds who have never directly admitted to knowingly using steroids, but did testify to a jury that he used cream he did not know were steroids? I propose you let the MLB players vote. They are the ones who had to compete with these players, so they would likely have a better idea than most if they were guilty of artificially pumping their stats up. I believe Bonds admission that he used a cream that was a steroid (whether he realized it or not) is sufficient to include him in the records that would need to be adjusted, but that's just my opinion.
One more thing: I think any single-season statistics during which a player admits steroid use should be thrown out altogether. I would also require an immediate drug test if a single-season or career mark is bested.
Here's the result of what my idea would bring: The single-season home run record would return to Roger Maris at 61. The career home run leader would be Henry Aaron once again at 755. Alex Rodriguez would fall to 7th on the all-time home run list behind Willie Mays and Bonds would fall below Babe Ruth in the low 700's or high 600's area. Mark McGwire would drop to 20th just above Willie McCovey. Those who have confessed to steroid use would fall further than this once individual record seasons are thrown out, but you get the general idea.
This would be a middle ground between allowing statistics attained by performance-enhancing drugs to stand or being thrown out all together. In my opinion, this would return some credibility to hallowed Major League Baseball records that right now are viewed with much suspicion and bitterness.