Chris Davis’ 51st HR of 2013 earlier this week broke Baltimore’s single-season record, previously held by OF Brady Anderson (above). Perhaps preparing for an assault on Gaylord Perry’s character, former NY Times columnist turned PED blogger Murray Chass reminds us that Anderson’s 1996 campaign was something of an aberration.
At the time, no one was talking about steroids or suspecting players of using them, though as it developed, some clearly were. Was Anderson among them? He has always denied it, and the circumstantial evidence isn’t as voluminous as it is in Bonds’ case.
However, his 50 home runs and other offensive statistics from that season stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.
In his first eight seasons in the majors Anderson hit a total of 72 home runs. In his six seasons after his 50 year he hit 88 homers. In 1996 he drove in 110 runs and had a .637 slugging percentage. Before and after, his best single-season numbers were 80 r.b.i. and 81 r.b.i., and his next best slugging percentage was .477.
As weird as the 1996 performance seemed to be as produced by Anderson, equally weird was his reversion to his previous levels of hitting.
Did he decide to use steroids, then decide after a year of use that he didn’t like the threat they posed to one’s health? Did he decide he didn’t like cheating? Did someone close to him who knew he was using prevail upon him to stop?
Efforts to reach Anderson by telephone to ask him these questions and others were unsuccessful. However, he is the Orioles’ vice president of baseball operations and was at the game in Boston when Davis hit his record-breaking 51st home run.