As has been reported on Deadspin, Baseball Primer, and soon-to-be everywhere on the internet, Jose Canseco’s latest list of names in his new book Vindicated has been leaked by Joe Lavin. The big names are Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez. Even by Canseco’s standards, the evidence is weak. Ordonez is the only player whom he claims to have witnessed use, but we already knew about this story from Ordonez’s side. He accuses Clemens of telling jokes about steroids, and he says he introduced A-Rod to a steroids supplier. Basically, it’s a big bunch of nothing.
In light of these new claims, I want to point to a study that I did of Canseco’s influence on steroid dissemination throughout baseball (Was Jose Canseco the Johnny Appleseed of Steroids?). Canseco claims to have helped many players learn how to use the drugs. The problem is that there is not a lot of evidence that his teammates improved when playing with him. After reading a study by two economists that claimed to show Canseco’s teammates improving, I decided to look at the evidence and reached the following conclusion.
After reading the study, I am not convinced by the authors’ conclusions. It’s not just one thing, but a collection of issues that form my opinion. I have problems with both the study’s design and the interpretation of the reported results. My disagreement does not mean that the effect does not exist, only that I do not see a pattern consistent with Canseco spreading steroids to his teammates….
To concur with the conclusions presented in the study you have to interpret the findings in a way that I do not believe is correct. Upon further examination, I believe the significant effect on home runs after playing with Canseco identified in the Gould and Kaplan study is a product of spurious correlation, and thus this tells us little about Canseco impact on disseminating steroids throughout baseball.
Of course, there are many possible reasons why the data don’t indicate an influence even if he did transmit his steroid knowledge to others. Still, when evaluating he-said-he-said allegations, it’s nice to have some other corroborating evidence.
The real bad news for Canseco: as of 11:22am his Amazon sales rank (16,302) is not as good as mine (14,548), and no one is booking me for television interviews.