A TSD Classique: Researchers Announce New Formula for Re-evaluating Pre-Steroids Era Baseball Stats
CHICAGO (The Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) – Next Monday, two professors from the University of Chicago will hold a press conference to announce an explosive new paper that argues for a new way of assessing and providing historical context to baseball statistics in light of those many believe were dramatically inflated by the widespread use of banned performance-enhancing substances. Professors Walt Ossenheimer, a renowned bio-engineer (Jockstraps is in the process of investigating whether that’s an actual academic discipline), and Arnold Pinkerton, a statistician known for his trailblazing work on latent space approaches to dynamic embedding of co-occurrence data, purport to have established a new mathematical model for aligning historical baseball statistics with those compiled during the so-called “steroids” era, seasons roughly spanning 1995-2004.
“There are some things we will never know, i.e., did Oswald act alone, did we actually land men on the moon, did OJ really do it, did Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, et al actually use performance enhancers in producing circus-freak numbers that defy biology and historical trends?” rhetorically asked Professor Ossenheimer. ” There’s no way of getting around it, just as there’s no real way of ignoring the numbers they recorded without rewriting history. So the question becomes: since you can’t just dismiss these numbers, how do you honor the actual achievements that have come before, milestones that define the sport of baseball?”
The soon-to-be published paper advances a model that goes by the euphonious acronym “SAFPES,” which stands for “statistics adjusted for performance enhancement substances.” The SAFPES model is akin to the models economists devise that adjust numbers for inflation. The professors studied the career patterns of over 350 major league players whose numbers experienced aberrational spikes during the 10 year “steroids era.” They then arrived at a formula that determines – within a 15-20% margin of error – the number of home runs, hits and the types of hits that can be traceable to steroids use.
“I really don’t want to go into specifics before our press conference next Monday – as soon as we do some clown from the University of Stuttgart who doesn’t know baseball from a beer stein will claim to have devised a formula with a 3% margin of error. But suffice it to say, when we apply the formula to players before the advent of steroids, 163 players have 600+ homers, while the Babe clocks in at an eye-opening 1,030 dingers. Whereas major league baseball officially acknowledges six 60+ home run seasons, our formula produces 71 such seasons. Two hundred and seventeen join the 3,000 hit club. Etc.”
Bud Selig declined comment, though many in the baseball community have privately welcomed the new approach, as it restores the achievements of baseball’s past to its rightful place, while putting the freakish, steroid-fueled numbers put up in recent years in its proper perspective. However, there are those who find the new model problematic. Count Harvard paleontologist and baseball fanatic Dr. Saul Rubin among the doubters.
“While there’s something to be said for adjusting historical numbers for steroids, it doesn’t account for the way players back in the day trained and prepared. Steroids don’t by themselves bulk you up, they give you the ability to work out harder and longer. Look, the Babe takes a hormone shot in the ass, the last place you’re going to find him is in Gold’s gym working on his abs and his lats. If anything, he’s washing it down with a six pack and a half dozen dogs…maybe it buys him more time at the park since he won’t be spending as much time in the sack, what, with the erectile problems that can result. If anything, steroids cuts his homer total by 10% and his testicle size by 25%. For god sakes, just do the math.”