Prime 9 Questionable Steroid Users

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This is an article I wrote for Bleacher Report.....

Steroid use is the talk of baseball. We know Alex Rodriguez is on the list of 104 players that tested positive in 2003. However, who are the other 103 players? In the theme of the MLB Network, I have compiled a Prime 9 list of position players I feel may very well be on that list of 104.

When looking at their statistics, it's hard not to stop and think if it's just coincidence, or if there are obvious signs of steroid use. There is nothing factual about the names I have listed. They are just merely my opinion with what I feel is enough question raised with their statistics.

In no particular order, my "Prime 9 Players" are:

Preston Wilson

In 2003, Wilson belted 36 homeruns and had 141 runs batted in. Over the course of his first 5 seasons, Preston averaged 28 homeruns and 94 runs batted in. He also averaged 146 games over that time.

Over the course of his last 4 seasons, beginning in 2004, he averaged 89 games along with 12 homeruns and 49 runs batted in. Seems like once steroid testing was in place, Mr. Wilson could no longer produce.

Brett Boone

Brett's career started in 1992. During his first six seasons he never hit more than 15 homeruns. He did that once, while hitting 12 homeruns in three different seasons. In 1997 he hit a mere 7 homeruns.

Suddenly during the 1998 season best known for the McGwire-Sosa homerun race, Boone jumped his power to 24 homeruns. Amazingly in 2001 he produced 37 homeruns and 141 runs batted in. He had 206 hits which to that point was 51 more than his career high.

His 37 homeruns were 13 more than his career high and his 141 runs batted in were 46 more than his career high. Was this just a "career year" that players have? Was this the result of joining the Seattle Mariners ballclub?

Or, was this the result of steroids? The next two seasons he topped the 100 RBI mark as well with homerun totals of 24 and 35. In 2004 he dropped slightly to 24 homeruns and 83 runs batted in. In 2005, he managed just 7 homeruns and 37 runs batted in. This was his final season in the majors.

Was the sudden fall-off and departure a natural result of a 14-year career, or the result of something else?

Jay Payton

In 2003, Jay Payton hit 28 homeruns and drove in 89 runs batted in. This topped his career high over the previous 3 seasons by 11 homeruns and 27 runs batted in. Was this a result of playing his first full season? Was this the result of playing in Colorado? Possibly.

But, the following season he dropped to just 8 homeruns and 55 runs batted in playing full time for San Diego. He bounced back to hit 18 homeruns in 2005 for Oakland and Boston.

However, that resurgence was short lived as he dropped down to 10 in 2006 and just 7 in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons at Camden Yards with the Orioles.

Mike Lowell

In 2003 Lowell set career highs with 32 homeruns and 105 runs batted in. In 2004 he dropped down slightly to 27 homeruns and 85 runs batted in. However in 2005, while still playing full time, his power disappeared. He hit just 8 homeruns and had only 58 runs batted in.

He then shifted to Boston where he has played the last three seasons. He has regained some of his power but has only averaged about 20 homeruns each of those seasons. While the difference may be subtle, and there may be other explanations, the question of steroid use can be brought up.

Nomar Garciaparra

In 2003 Nomar was solidified as an all-star shortstop. He finished the 2003 season with 28 homeruns and 105 runs batted in. This was the norm for Nomar up to this point in his career.

Excluding the 2001 season which he missed most of due to injury, and the 1996 season when he first broke in the majors and appeared in just 24 games, Nomar averaged 28 homeruns and 108 runs batted in every season.

However, following 2003 Nomar would never regain that level of play again. Injuries took their toll in both the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

In 2006 he was able to bounce back and play 122 games and hit 20 homeruns with 93 runs batted in. The following year in 2007 he played in almost the identical amount of games (121) yet only hit 7 homeruns with 59 runs batted in.

Was Nomar just unfortunate to run into so many injuries? Or was there a connection to his injuries and steroids or lack thereof?

Carl Everett

In 1999 Everett hit 25 homeruns and had 108 runs batted in with the Astros. In 2000 he hit 34 homeruns and again had 108 runs batted in with the Red Sox. These numbers stand out like a sore thumb when looking at his career. In the previous two seasons to 1999, he managed just 14 and 15 homeruns.

In the following two seasons after 2000, he managed just 14 and 16 homeruns. Where did that sudden power in between come from? He did manage a combined 28 homeruns in 2003 with the White Sox and Rangers.

That total dropped back down to just 7 combined homeruns in 2004 with the White Sox and Expos. He hit 23 in 2005 with the White Sox but just 11 in 2006 with Seattle.

Richard Hildago

In 2000 Hildago hit an amazing 44 homeruns and had 122 runs batted in. The previous season he had 15 homeruns and 56 runs batted in. The season after he had 19 homeruns and 80 runs batted in. In 2003 he managed 28 homeruns and 88 runs batted in.

In 2004 he hit a combined 25 homeruns and 82 runs batted in with the Astros and Mets. In 2006 he dropped to 16 homeruns and 43 runs batted in with Texas and was out of baseball after that.

Trot Nixon

Using the 2003 season as the benchmark, as steroid testing was put in place for the 2004 season, Trot seems to fit the bill of a person whose career changed after 2003. From 2001 through 2003 Nixon averaged 26 homeruns and 90 runs batted in.

In the following 5 seasons, in part due to injury, he has not approached these numbers again. The closest he came was in 2005 with 13 homeruns and 67 runs batted in.

Javy Lopez

In 2003 Javy hit 43 homeruns with 109 runs batted in. In 1998, the McGwire-Sosa year, he hit 34 homeruns and had 106 runs batted in.

Take those two years out of the equation, his career high was in 2000 when he hit 24 homeruns with 89 runs batted in. In other years he had homerun totals of 11 (twice), 13, 14, and 17. He followed the 2003 season with 23 homeruns and 86 runs batted in. In 2005 hr dropped down to 15 homeruns and 49 runs batted in.

In 2006, his final season, he had a combined 8 homeruns and 35 runs batted in.

One may say that it was just a player declining at the end of his career. However, with those two monster seasons mixed in with his other numbers, it's hard not to question possible steroid use.