MLB's Prime Nine Questionable Steroid Users

Joe SpencerContributor IFebruary 19, 2009

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 Nine 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 Nine Players” are:



Preston Wilson


In 2003, Wilson belted 36 home runs and had 141 runs batted in.  Over the course of his first 5 seasons, Preston averaged 28 home runs 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 home runs 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 home runs.  He did that once, while hitting 12 home runs in three different seasons.  In 1997 he hit a mere seven home runs. 


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


His 37 home runs 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 seven home runs 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 home runs and drove in 89 runs batted in.  This topped his career high over the previous three seasons by 11 home runs 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 eight home runs and 55 runs batted in playing full time for San Diego.  He bounced back to hit 18 home runs in 2005 for Oakland and Boston. 


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



Mike Lowell


In 2003 Lowell set career highs with 32 home runs and 105 runs batted in.  In 2004, he dropped down slightly to 27 home runs and 85 runs batted in.  However, in 2005, while still playing full time, his power disappeared.  He hit just eight home runs 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 home runs 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 home runs 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 home runs 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 home runs with 93 runs batted in.  The following year in 2007 he played in almost the identical amount of games (121) yet only hit seven home runs 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 home runs and had 108 runs batted in with the Astros.  In 2000, he hit 34 home runs 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 home runs. 


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


That total dropped back down to just seven combined home runs 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 home runs and had 122 runs batted in. The previous season he had 15 home runs and 56 runs batted in. The season after he had 19 home runs and 80 runs batted in. In 2003, he managed 28 home runs and 88 runs batted in.


In 2004, he hit a combined 25 home runs and 82 runs batted in with the Astros and Mets. In 2006, he dropped to 16 home runs 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 home runs and 90 runs batted in. 


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



Javy Lopez


In 2003 Javy hit 43 home runs with 109 runs batted in.  In 1998, the McGwire-Sosa year, he hit 34 home runs and had 106 runs batted in.  Take those two years out of the equation, his career high was in 2000 when he hit 24 home runs with 89 runs batted in. 


In other years he had home run totals of 11 (twice), 13, 14, and 17.  He followed the 2003 season with 23 home runs and 86 runs batted in.  In 2005, HRs dropped down to 15 home runs and 49 runs batted in. 


In 2006, his final season, he had a combined eight home runs 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.


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