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Do Steroids Really Affect Hitting Power In Baseball?

  1. Jul 20, 2008 #1
    So I've been trying to find sources that discuss the actual science behind this, but of course that's very hard to find. I've been skeptical about the effects steroids has on hitting power in baseball. Maybe it affects people in other sports, but with hitting power in baseball I am skeptical. For one, I heard that steroids affects the upper body more, but hitting power in baseball comes from the lower body. People I've spoken to have retorted that it improves hand/eye coordination so hitters will be able to react faster on a pitch and drive it out. However, there are a lot of hitters in baseball with good hand/eye coordination, but can't hit for power because they don't have the lower body strength to do so.

    Anyways, I was wondering if anyone could give me some scientific answers on this subject. Do steroids affect hitting power in baseball?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2008 #2


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    That is a really tough question, I cannot directly find literature on that subject matter. There have been steroid scandals in baseball, maybe you should find out whether the people who were on steroids suddenly increased their performance before being caught.
  4. Jul 20, 2008 #3
    Hmm, Barry Bonds...
  5. Jul 20, 2008 #4
    Sabermetricians (statisticians for the game of baseball) have tried doing this, but it is difficult determining when everyone took steroids. So they don't know what time periods to look at for comparisons in the performance data. There has been evidence of several ball juicings throughout the course of baseball history, including one in 1993 or 1994. That's when supposedly power numbers increased. Plus, someone did some work on the history of power hitting in baseball using a metric called power factor (total bases/hits, but I like to use home runs/hits) and essentially it's been pretty steady with its peaks and valleys, so I really haven't seen much conclusive evidence in the performance data that would give steroids any credit.
  6. Jul 20, 2008 #5
    Here's the graph on power factor:

    http://steroids-and-baseball.com/GRAPHICS/half-sized-splicedPF.jpg" [Broken]

    The guy explains why the graph is "spliced."

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Jul 20, 2008 #6
    Barry Bonds is an interesting case. After the home run chase in 1998 between Mcgwire and Sosa, apparently Bonds was envious of all the attention those two guys received. Well, if we look at Bonds' power factor (home runs/hits) in the following graph I charted for his whole career, there's a dramatic spike after the 1998 season. It looks really suspicious, but then again, he did peak into .300 territory in the 1994 season, and he was steadily over .200 from 1992 onwards.


    As a frame of reference on power factor, here are some of the greatest hitters career power factors:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  8. Jul 20, 2008 #7
    In billiards hitting particularly hard isn't necessarily helpful. The most important factor is control but strength in the hands and arms can aid control. I would think that this is likely, to some degree, the case for batting aswell? Perhaps enhanced upper body strength improves muscle control and allows the batter to swing harder with less concern for losing control of the bat?
  9. Jul 20, 2008 #8


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    I'm not sure where you get the information that steroids affect the upper body more? That's news to me. If you can support it with a reference, great, otherwise, I don't really have any reason to think upper body is more affected than lower body. Even if upper body is MORE influenced by steroid usage, I don't know of any reason to think the lower body isn't affected AT ALL. Afterall, runners and cyclists have reported performance benefits from steroid abuse as well, and those are primarily lower body functions.

    Here are some references you might want to read further on studies conducted with steroids. The first two are in aging men (a legal use of steroids) and one on men who are weight training.


    Last edited: Jul 20, 2008
  10. Jul 20, 2008 #9
    Here are some citations Moonbear. I'll take a look at the links you've provided me. Thanks.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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