“I have been interested in stiffer penalties for some time,” Selig said. “We’ve made meaningful adjustments to our testing and it is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties.”
Selig said last season there were only five positive tests of the more than 5,000 that were conducted. The new penalties are intended to deter the small number of those who still don’t see the current penalties as harsh enough.
“I don’t know if we can ever get to zero; there will always be somebody out there,” Selig said. “For a very small percentage of people it hasn’t served for as much of a deterrent as I think it should.”
MLB’s more stringent drug punishments have been cited as one large reason why offense began to decline starting in 2010. The average Major League team averaged 4.61 runs per game in 2009, but it dropped to 4.38, 4.28, and 4.32 in the following three years. Home run rates from 2007-12 are at their lowest rates since the early 1990’s.
Selig’s wish for harsher penalties for positive drug tests is curious given that, as the ESPN article mentions, very few players are testing positive. At some point, you get diminishing returns cranking up the dial on suspension lengths and fine amounts. And it looks silly in comparison to the biggest of shrugs MLB gives to alcohol abuse — Philadelphia’s Delmon Young was suspended a mere seven games without pay when he was charged with third-degree assault and an aggravated harassment hate crime last year.