Major League Baseball releases its annual drug test report

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The annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator has been released by Major League Baseball. The stats:

  • There were 5,391 total drug tests. 4,022 were urine samples, 1,369 were blood samples;
  • There were eight positive tests resulting in discipline. All were for stimulants. Seven of the stimulant tests were for Adderall. One for Methylhexaneamine. I guess that means that there are no more steroids in baseball. Yay!
  • There were 13 “non-analytical positives.” That’s baseball code for “Biogenesis dudes.”
  • There were 122 therapeutic use exemptions for otherwise banned drugs.  119 of them were for ADD drugs like Adderall. Three were three for hypogonadism. A couple of years ago here was only one for hypogonadism, so that’s on the uptick. On the bright side, two years ago there was a therapeutic use exemption for narcolepsy and now there is none. So the narcoleptic either got better or retired.

The most interesting thing here, to me anyway, continues to be the number of Adderall-users in baseball. It’s estimated that 4.7% of the adult population has ADD. 119 of roughly 1,200 major leaguers on 40-man rosters puts the ADD rate at nearly 10%. Back that number down a little bit for the various guys that shuffle in and out of 400-man rosters and you figure that baseball players have ADD diagnosis at around twice the level of that in the normal population.

Are baseball players more likely to have ADD than the rest of the adult population? Are they just more likely to be diagnosed that way? Or are therapeutic use exemptions for ADD drugs a means of getting something ballplayers have always found beneficial — stimulants — in a legal way?

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.