Politician uses steroids in baseball to argue for evidence of climate change

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People love to use baseball analogies because baseball is a pretty common and relatable frame of reference. But one thing you can be sure of: nearly 100% of the time someone is using a baseball analogy in politics, they are either mangling the baseball or mangling the politics.

To wit, a senator using it to make a climate change point:

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) used a chart showing that the number of home runs increased when players used steroid, saying it’s the same case with temperatures rising when humans emit greenhouse gases.

“Something very funny happened in baseball because from 1920 all the way through the entire modern baseball history, the average number of players that hit more than 41 home runs in a season was three players,” Markey said Monday night. “All of the sudden 17 players could hit more than 41 home runs. … Then somebody thought, ‘maybe they’re injecting these players with steroids.’”

With the caveat that I am not a climate change denier and that, if anything, I’m sympathetic to the cause of and generally in league with the people who are concerned about climate change, this is bunk on the baseball side and doesn’t help their arguments, be they about baseball or about climate change.

There has been a lot of variation in home run rates and totals throughout history. The context of baseball has changed constantly. And there are many factors, separate and apart from steroids, that have caused it. At the same time, there are many indicators and effects of steroid use that are observable separate and apart from home run rates. People who make intelligent observations about steroids in baseball don’t just point at home runs and say “seeee???!!” Morons do that.

The same goes with climate change. Unlike Senator Markey here, the folks who say intelligent things about it don’t look at cute charts of loose correlation — data that can and often does fit on a bumper sticker — to make their points. There exists a large body of rigorous, peer-reviewed science on the subject, tracking a number of variables. Heck, even those who are not on the same side of the climate change debates as me — if they’re being smart and not just trafficking in easy politics — will point to the research, be it their own or point to flaws in existing studies. It’s only the jerks on either side of the debate who think the topic is simple and make those bumper stickers and political cartoons about it. The people who scream about the end of the world when it’s 95 in June or mock the concept of climate change when it’s -10 in January.

There’s an awful lot of rigorous research about baseball offense too. Most of it will show that there are tons of factors besides PEDs that led to the offensive explosion of the 1990s and 2000s. And that there are tons of factors besides drug testing that has led to the offensive declines of the past several years. Curiously, so much of that is ignored when people go to make points about home runs and offense.

So please: people concerned about climate change, find another analogy. Because the folks who link steroids and home runs as tightly as this fellow does here have way more in common with the climate change science deniers than they do with those who think it’s a real and legitimate issue.

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.