In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, columnist Bryan Burwell writes the following:
Bill James, baseball’s ultimate seamhead and statistical guru, tried Tuesday to explain to me why Jim Rice should never get into the Hall but Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and many of their chemically enhanced contemporaries should. It was a dazzling bit of stat geek mumbo-jumbo that basically came down to this:
Stats and baseball’s integrity are very relevant to baseball … unless I don’t want them to be.
This prompted me to write the following to Mr. Burwell in an e-mail:
I believe your assertions about several MLB players using steroids to create a home run chase are misguided. While there is a cloud of suspicion surrounding some players this is hardly evidence that they cheated their way to success. Please read the following paper for a discussion of the statistical variance of home runs (http://www.arthurdevany.com/webstuff/images/HomeRunHitting.pdf). The achieved excellence by the sluggers you mention is all within the natural variance of home run hitting in baseball history.
I don’t expect to hear back, but it bothers me that so many people are willing to convict players of using steroids with evidence that wouldn’t meet the weakest of legal standards. If you have not read De Vany’s paper, which I posted a link to above, you should. Art De Vany is a retired economics professor with an excellent research reputation. I wish more people would take notice of his work. I have yet to see someone successfully refute De Vany’s findings.