The Nationals invited some controversy by hiring Matt Williams as their new manager on Friday. He hasn’t gotten all that much attention for it, but Williams, who hit 378 homers over 17 big-league seasons with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, was, for at least a brief time, a steroids user.
Williams was outed by the San Francisco Chronicle in Nov. 2007 as having bought $11,600 worth of steroids, human Growth Hormone and making agents from the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Clinic in 2002, when he was playing for Arizona. He was later included in the Mitchell Report.
Williams admitted to the purchase, saying that he was advised to try hGH to recover from an ankle injury and that he stopped using it because he didn’t like the effects. He didn’t discuss the other substances he bought.
Which was good enough in 2007, since no one much cared. Williams had retired four years previously and was working as a broadcaster then.
Now that Williams is the leader of a major league club, it’d be for the best if he went into greater detail. Unless he happened to just flush everything else down the toilet, Williams wasn’t merely using hGH to try to aid his healing. All we really know is that 2002 was the only time he was caught cheating. This is a guy who appeared to be making a run at Roger Maris’s single-season home run record with the Giants in 1994 when the strike happened (he had 43 homers in 112 games). Was he enhanced then as well?
Frankly, I suspect that those late-90s/early-aughts Diamondbacks clubhouses were about as steroid-riddled as any in the game’s history. I’m not suggesting Williams starts naming names, but as a franchise leader, he should at least come clean about his own past.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.