There was a bit of perhaps unsurprising news yesterday -- the Associated Press very quickly ran the numbers, and realized that the number of home runs this year was at its lowest point for fifteen years. Then, they asked Torii Hunter about it:
"I think the steroid testing has something to do with it," he said. "If there were any guys who were taking it, they're not taking it anymore. I'd say it's a small percentage, but of course it's going to have an impact."
Well then. Of course that's the obvious answer, and it's the one most people would immediately cite, but is it the only one? Hunter mentions ballpark size, too, which, in the inverse, is one of the steroid era's great unsung causes. But there's also the issue of pitchers. If we assume pitchers were taking steroids at roughly the same rate as hitters, then wouldn't home runs stay relatively steady?
I don't know. And that's the whole point -- without actual calculation, instead of my liberal arts-enabled quasi-scientific ramblings -- we don't know. Until that stuff gets done, neither Hunter nor I nor you really know how much steroids are at work here. That's why steroids suck. Even after all the nonsense, we still don't know what we're talking about.