The Gambler: Kenny Rogers Rolling the Dice on Steroids During Texas Two-Step?
Kenny Rogers has never been fond of the media. He's also had a problem following the rules on the field as evidenced by his performance in the 2006 World Series against the Cardinals.
Pine tar might be just the tip of the iceberg, though. Rogers was a part of the Rangers from 1989 to 1995 and again from 2000 to 2005. Yet, he's gone overlooked by most despite being a part of the team that had such steroid suspects as Juan Gonzalez, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, and the most famous of the Rodriguez clan, recently outed Alex Rodriguez.
Rogers' most famous run-in with negative publicity came in 2005 when he assaulted David Mammeli of Dallas Fort-Worth television station KDFW. This was also around the time that Rogers' statistics started to decline permanently.
While much of this could be attributed to aging at that point, Rogers had a brief spike in his career after his most dominant season with Oakland in 1998. In that year, Rogers posted a 16-8 record in 238.2 innings pitched along with 138 Ks. He also posted a career low 3.17 ERA in 1998.
Following that season, Rogers spent a mediocre 19 starts in Oakland in 1999 before being traded to Kirk Radomski's former home of Shea Stadium and the New York Mets. His numbers declined in that season but he was able to get a three-year contract with the Rangers to combat the strong left-handed lineups of Seattle and Oakland.
Baseball Prospectus noted that, "Rogers' velocity has dropped dramatically in the last year and a half, and he's leaving a couple of good pitchers' parks in Oakland and Shea."
With this type of problem on the radar for Rogers it would make sense to seek out some way for him to have an edge, or at least return to form.
During that three-year span in Texas, Rogers would post a 31-28 record for a consistent non-contender in Arlington. His home run rate stayed the same as earlier in his career, however his strikeouts rose to 127, 74, and 107. In 2001, he had an injury-shortened season due to a non-pitching shoulder problem.
Rogers' average ERA during his three-year tenure in Texas was 4.65. This is about par with his career ERA of 4.60. The inflation can be attributed to the hitter-friendly ballpark that he pitched in. Also, this was the height of players abusing Performance Enhancing Drugs.
Rogers then left Texas for Minnesota in 2003 and posted a 13-8 record with 116 strikeouts and a 4.57 ERA. Again, scouts observed a decline in his velocity.
Just one year later, Rogers returned to Texas, recording an amazing 18-9 record with 126 strikeouts and a 4.76 ERA. The 38-year-old appeared to regain his velocity yet again while avoiding the Disabled List.
He followed the 2004 campaign with another solid season in '05, garnering a 14-8 record and 3.46 ERA. His strikeouts did decline to only 87.
2006 was the first year that MLB adopted their Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Steroids and other PEDs were officially banned after the Congressional hearings in 2005.
After 2006, Rogers went to Detroit and had to reinvent himself into a Tom Glavine-like finesse and control pitcher. Again, his velocity was down from the 91-93 MPH that he saw during his Texas years. He was displaying a modest 85-88 MPH on the gun.
Rogers also saw his physical stature decline. As it stands, Roger is currently 6'1" and 190 pounds. During Spring Training of 2000, he weighed in at 205 pounds. In 2004, he posted a weight as high as 217.
His statistics grew in the power pitching categories along with his weight. Yet, just as in the case of Barry Bonds, he had some of his best seasons of his career in his mid- to late-30s. Bonds had BALCO. Rogers had the teammates of Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and, early in his career, Jose Canseco.
Rogers proved he's not afraid to bend the rules with the visible "dirt smudge" on his hand of Game Two in the 2006 World Series. With superstars like Pudge and Palmeiro to take the spotlight, Rogers could sit back and go unnoticed while putting up some of the best numbers of his career.
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