I am a fantasy nut, so when it was revealed Big Papi used performance-enhancing drugs in the past, I had to look at how these drugs affected the fantasy world. Steroids are a real problem, and as fans, we need to know what they do to our sport.
It's common knowledge that steroids give you superhero strength, but using steroids is a double-edged sword. When a player decides to rely on steroids, he is signing a deal with the devil.
To save us headaches in the fantasy world, we need to find out how PEDs affect a player's performance before and after usage.
When a player uses steroids, he sees an immediate gain of around 4.5-11 lbs in his muscle mass while losing a little fat mass. The upper body reacts the most to steroids, which is the most important part when determining a player's potential to hit for power.
Studies have shown that the human body sees a five-to-20-percent increase in power while under the influence.
Generally, the player's batting average will not fluctuate much while under the influence of steroids because a player's ability to see the ball and create contact is not a strength factor but more of a consistency and mental factor.
A player who predominantly hits fly balls will see a small increase in batting average though because those deep fly balls turn into sky-soaring home runs.
Now, let's talk about the adverse effects of steroids.
Despite many health disadvantages that come with steroid usage, like reduced sexual function and temporary infertility in males (do any popular L.A. hitters come to mind?), to fantasy owners, the increased risk of injury is the most important disadvantage.
In fantasy, injury risks are generally looked down upon in a draft, right?
Gary Sheffield (mentioned in the Mitchell Report) is the perfect example of an increased risk of injury due to steroid withdrawal. From 1988-1998, Sheffield played 100+ games in a season only four times. During his amazing power spike in 1999-2005, Sheffield played 135+ games every year.
Since 2005, we've seen a steady decline in Sheffield's power, which shows he is not using anymore. He has had "ticky-tack" injuries every season since 2005, too.
Do you see the trend?
We all can see how Ortiz's power numbers have suffered: In Minnesota, Ortiz hit one home run per 25 at bats.
When he moved to Boston (and spent more time with Manny), we saw a dramatic improvement. He hit a home run per 13 at bats.
In the last two years (since his steroid-using buddy Manny has left), Ortiz has not only lost bat velocity, but he now averages a home run every 20 at bats.
I think it's safe to say that these fantasy juggernauts from yesteryear who used performance-enhancing drugs are irrelevant for fantasy purposes anymore.
I advise staying away from anyone linked to performance-enhancing drugs in your future drafts, or you may be using more free agents than you care to use when these guys start to under-perform and get hurt.