Saturday, January 12, 2013

Overrated Roidhead or HOFer, I decide: Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa broke into the big leagues in 1989 as a 20 year old, and he didn't look like a slugger.

Judging from that photo, Sosa was destined to be a speedy outfielder type of player who provided a little pop at the plate, but when he was with the Cubs in in 1993, he hit 33 homeruns -- topping his career best 15 homers for the White Sox in 1990.  Then in 1996, Sosa hit 40 homeruns; following that up with 36 in 1997.  

Then, in 1998, he exploded: 66 HR, 63 HR in '99, 50 in 2000, 64 in 2001...  Just unbelievable power numbers that came out of nowhere.  We all know now that Sosa hit the 'roids, of course.  Players like Canseco and McGwire were always big, though, so it's worth comparing the size of Sosa's arms in the above photo to this one to remind ourselves of the extent of how much some players juiced: 

The dude fucking quintupled the size of his arms.  That shit's just ridiculous.  So how do we determine if this roid beast belongs in Hall of Fame? 

All Sammy Sosa has going for his HOF credentials are his homeruns: 609 for his career.  Some members of the 500 Homerun Club aren't going to be allowed in Cooperstown, but how can someone who hit over 600 homers be shutout?  

Sosa's game was one dimensional, though.  He ended his career with a .273 batting average.  Until he bulked up, he wasn't a gargantuan force at the plate, just an outfielder with 30+ homer power.  There are plenty of MLB players like that throughout history, and they don't deserve enshrinement in the Hall.  So how many homers would Sosa have hit without juicing up?

I'll be generous and put the line of demarcation at 1998, even though Sosa hit 40 homers in 1996.  From 1990 - 97, Sosa had six seasons with over 425 AB.  He hit 185 homeruns over these seasons, and that averages out to 31 per season.  Then, from 1998 - 2004, Sosa hit 367 homers, averaging an eyepopping 52 homers per season.  Replacing the juiced average with Sosa's for his natural power over those 7 seasons, 31 * 7 = 217.  367 - 217 leaves us with a difference of 150 homers that we can remove from Sosa's career total to see how many he would have without the help of steroids.

609 - 150 = 459. 

Knocking down Sosa's career average to .260, that leaves us with a career .260s hitter with 459 homeruns. That's a pretty good career, but it won't get you into the Hall of Fame under normal circumstances.  Unfortunately, we're gonna hear about Sosa for the next 14 years, so grab your barf buckets and hold on tight. 

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