Nelson Cruz retired on Thursday after 19 years within the bigs. What adopted has been a gradual stream of tales recalling Cruz’s hitting prowess and clubhouse presence — each simple details. However what serves as a aspect observe — if that — in many of the protection has been his involvement within the 2013 Biogenesis steroid scandal. And even within the tales that point out his 50-game suspension, what’s conspicuously absent is the truth that, upon coming back from his PED suspension, Cruz went on to put up one of the best years of his profession.
Earlier than his suspension in the course of the 2013 season with the Texas Rangers, Cruz had hit 30 dwelling runs in a season as soon as (33 in 2009 for Texas). After his suspension, from 2014-16 — and from the ages of 33 to 38 — Cruz posted three consecutive 40+ dwelling run seasons (one with Baltimore, two with Seattle), and added a fourth in six years in 2019 for Minnesota. The 2 seasons in that stretch the place he didn’t attain the 40 mark, he hit 39 and 37 lengthy balls, respectively.
Not dangerous for an ageing slugger presumed to be “clear,” wouldn’t you say?
In fact, nobody is speaking about this now as Cruz, who performed for eight groups, takes his 464 profession dwelling runs and rides off into the sundown. Now we have discovered way back that nobody in baseball — be it MLB execs, group officers, gamers, media, or followers — actually cares about juicing within the recreation. However that doesn’t change the truth that I’ve by no means heard an excellent rationalization for a way a participant of Cruz’s caliber might return from a PED suspension and carry out at the next degree than earlier than they have been caught doping.
Most likely as a result of there isn’t one. Apart from, properly, you already know.
For many gamers who’ve returned after being nailed for PEDs, manufacturing declines steeply. Within the best-case eventualities (I’m taking a look at you Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez), they handle, for a quick interval, to place up numbers which can be respectable, however properly beneath what they posted whereas presumably doping. Which leads us to certainly one of three potential assumptions relating to Cruz. I’ll let the readers select:
1. PEDs don’t assist enhance efficiency. (Editor’s observe: they do.)
2. Cruz is the best slugger within the historical past of the sport and his uncooked expertise was so overwhelming that he was in a position to do what virtually nobody has been in a position to do on the highest ranges: Carry out higher clear than they did on PEDs. (Editor’s observe: If that is your choice, we’d prefer to know if you’re on this bridge we’ve got on the market.)
3. Cruz didn’t cease utilizing PEDs, however merely stopped getting caught utilizing PEDs.
I’m not going to spoil it — or threat a libel swimsuit — by freely giving what my most popular reply to this riddle is. I’ll go away that to the Baseball Writers of America when Cruz and his gaudy numbers — the longtime DH compiled a .274/.343/.513 slash line to go together with 2,053 hits and 1,325 RBI — change into eligible for the Corridor of Fame in 5 years.
It is going to be attention-grabbing to see what that dialog is like and whether or not all of the hosannas have wilted by then. Let’s simply say, as one of many few people who find themselves nonetheless bothered by the concept of athletes doping, I’m not optimistic.