by Daniel Gettinger
Yesterday I presented the infielders on my “Padres All Performance Enhancer Team.” Today I give you the outfielders (yes, I know I promised pitchers as well, but they will have to wait one more day)…
As a reminder: I am not necessarily claiming that these players definitively took steroids, HGH, or any other performance enhancing substance. Eligibility for this “team” has no specific conditions. My selections are based on fan speculation, written Reports (The Mitchell Report, as well as media reports-possibly unsubstantiated), dramatic hat size increases, and my own opinion. This two-part series is intended to be somewhat humorous, and should not be cited in any any serious steroid discussion.
Left Fielder: Greg Vaughn
This one was tough. I had been reserving left field for Ryan Klesko, a player I have long suspected as a juicer. As a Padre for seven years, Klesko seemed to be a more appropriate selection than Vaughn, who only played 2.5 seasons for the Friars.
Then I analyzed Klesko’s career stats. There is nothing there that suggests he used performance enhancers.
At age 25, Klesko hit what would turn out to be a career high 34 home runs. At age 30, Klesko hit exactly 30 home runs, but in no other season did he hit 30 or more home runs. Klesko was really more of a 25 HR guy. 25-30 home runs per season is pretty good, but nothing that screams steroids.
Klesko’s aging path also does not suggest the use of performance enhancers. He was a good player from ages 23-31, and then entered a decline, which appeared steeper than it was due to the move to Petco Park in 2004.
Klesko may have been using steroids throughout his career, thereby eliminating any sudden jumps (or drops) in performance, but in the absence of even a little evidence, I do not feel comfortable giving Klesko a starting role on a team dominated by more obvious juicers.
Greg Vaughn however has earned himself a starting role on the “team.” Early in his career, Vaughn displayed some power (20-30 home runs per season), but never looked like a 50 home run guy. In the two years following his 30 home run season at age 27, Vaughn struggled with injuries hitting only 19 and 17 home runs. Then, at age 30, Vaughn hit 41 home runs. The next season, 18 home runs. And the year after that…in 1998…50 home runs!
I realize power sometimes develops with age, but in his age 32-35 seasons, Vaughn hit 147 home runs. In his four best (i.e. not affected by injuries) seasons prior to 1998, hit only 121 home runs. His ages in those seasons? 25, 26, 27, 30.
Runner Up: Klesko
Center Field: Ruben Rivera
Acquired from the New York Yankees for Hideki Irabu, Rivera was supposed to be the long-term answer in center field for the Padres. The problem was, he could never get on base.
While there is not a lot of evidence that supports labeling Rivera a user of performance enhancers, I feel the fact that he stole Derek Jeter’s bat and glove, and sold them for $2,500 may justify his inclusion on this “team.” I mean, if he was really that desperate for money, it does not seem like a huge stretch to think he may have tried to increase his value by attempting to gain an edge on the field
Plus, I sort of wanted an excuse to share Wikipedia’saccount of what Jon Miller once called “the worst baserunning in the history of the game.”
With one out in the bottom of the ninth in a 2–2 game, Rivera was a pinch runner on first base for Andrés Galarraga, who had reached on a Tony Womack error.
Marquis Grissom then hit a fly ball to deep right-center field, which David Dellucci misjudged; by this time, Rivera, who had gone past second base, was on his way back to first base after retouching second, believing that Dellucci would catch the ball.
When he saw that Dellucci did not make the catch, Rivera decided to try for third base, but failed once again to touch second and had to retrace his steps before continuing.
He would have been out easily except that Junior Spivey‘s relay throw bounced off the glove of Alex Cintrón, covering third base.
Having reached third base, Rivera chose to go for home, but the ball bounced to Womack, and Womack threw him out by a full step at home, preventing the would-be winning run.
Runners Up: Gary Matthews Jr and Rondell White, both of whom were named in the Mitchell Report.
Right Field: Brian Giles
Because Tony Gwynn and Brian Giles have manned right field for the Padres throughout much of the steroid era, there were not a lot of candidates to choose from. Luckily for us, Giles is not a bad candidate for inclusion on this team.
Giles just looks like a guy who has used steroids. He is short, stocky, muscular, and has a head that is way too big for his body. A few times a year, someone from San Diego insists he or someone he knows has inside information, and claims that Giles has definitely been on the ‘roids for some time. Those claims are unsubstantiated, but I do personally believe Giles has used steroids throughout his career.
However, Giles is similar to Ryan Klesko in that the stats do not actually support such a claim. Many Padres fans argue that the sudden disappearance of Giles’s power once he joined San Diego is evidence that he used PEDs while with the Pirates, and then stopped using while a Padre.
I disagree. There is no doubt that Giles hit fewer home runs in San Diego than he did in Pittsburgh, but he was also older and attempting to hit home runs in a notoriously difficult park to hit home runs in.
Giles joined the Padres when he was 32 years old. He is now 38. We expect players to hit less home runs in their age 32-38 seasons than they did from age 26 through 32. Especially those who played half their games in Petco Park. There may be visual and anecdotal evidence that Brian Giles has used steroids, but the statistical evidence is not particularly strong.
Next Up: Pitchers