Legal stimulant use in baseball increases slightly

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A couple of years ago Congress started making Major League Baseball turn over figures showing how many drug exemptions it gave out in light of concern that players were falsely claiming to have ADHD or related disorders in order to get their hands on banned stimulants.  The numbers are in for this year, and they show a slight increase in the number of exemptions, with 108 players getting exemptions last season, after 106 got them in 2008 and 103 did in 2007.

As Rob Neyer points out, this is not an alarming number. In 2009, 1,156 players appeared in at least one major league game. That means that around nine percent. According to the National Institutes of Health, ADHD occurs in 3-10% of the general population.  If there was some major effort to scam the system for uppers, you’d figure the number would be higher.  Also of interest in the report:

Twelve players tested positive for stimulants: 11 for Adderall and one
for clobenzorex. Two players received exemptions to use
performance-enhancing drugs because of hypertension, two for low levels
of testosterone, one for narcolepsy, one for obsessive compulsive
disorder and one for postconcussion syndrome.

Not to make light of the disorder or anything, but I bet we could figure out who the OCD ballplayer is: just look for the guy who constantly adjusts his batting gloves and makes a point not to step on the white line going on and off the field.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.