If you look back to the peak of the steroid era in the early part of the decade, you saw a bunch of guys who went from being lanky to specimens that would have turned some heads out on Los Angeles' famed Muscle Beach in Venice.
One of those guys was second baseman Bret Boone. In 2000, he had a decent season in San Diego, hitting .251 with 19 home runs, 74 RBI and a .747 OPS. For a middle infielder, even in an era where there was more power coming from the positions, that is still a rock solid season.
However, Boone was 31 and clearly on what history and sabermetrics showed to be the wrong side of the peak of a ballplayer's career.
So what happens in 2001, when he reports to his first spring camp with the Seattle Mariners? All of a sudden he is a hulking mass of upper body strength, looking more like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi and less like the average build guy that played in Cincinnati and San Diego.
To say that he improved would be a massive understatement. In his first season in the Pacific Northwest, Boone practically doubled his offensive output from the year before, batting .331 with 37 home runs, 141 RBI and a whopping .950 OPS.
Making it even more mind-boggling is the fact that he did this while playing half his season at Safeco Field, which had a multi-year park factor of 94 offense and 93 pitching, one of the most extreme biases toward pitchers in the majors.
His follow-ups were .278-24-107 in 2002 and .294-35-117 in 2003.
In 2004, after the testing program had done its' survey and clearly begun to take shape, Boone's numbers began dropping in an extreme way.
His performance that season was closer to his 2000 season, with a .251-24-83 line. Then in 2005, after Jose Canseco casts his small suspicion on him in 'Juiced', Boone goes .221-7-37 in just 84 games, basically ending his career when he gets kicked to the curb by the Minnesota Twins.
Though he denied ever taking performance-enhancers, Boone's three-year stretch in Seattle says otherwise. How else can you explain a guy who had 125 career home runs up to that point suddenly going off for 96 more while playing half his games in the biggest pitchers' park in the AL?
Based on Canseco's track record in this era, I tend to believe the words of the chief juicer more than Boone.
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