The statistically established reality for MLB players is that their prime years occur between ages 27 and 31 or so. This is a generalized ranged, and of course, there are always exceptions to this “rule” created by the crunching of data from decades of professional baseball. It’s most likely that the player’s effectiveness is in steep decline by age 35, and anything that varies from this mainline is suspect.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander, age 39. His statistical line is showing a strong resemblance to the one put up by infamous cheater and PED user, Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. To wit:
- Verlander, to age 34: 3.49 ERA, 1.191 WHIP, 8.5 Ks/9
- Bonds, to age 34: .290 BA, .398 OBP, .556 SLG
Now, both players underwent some sort of major change at age 34; in Bonds’ case, it was his association with BALCO. In Verlander’s case, it was a trade to the cheatin’ Houston Astros. Both players had built strong statistical profiles at age 34, enough to send them to Cooperstown. But it clearly wasn’t enough for either of them. They had to push it, thanks to their new associations with dishonest organizations.
- Verlander, after age 34: 2.29 ERA, 0.834 WHIP, 11.4 Ks/9
- Bonds, after age 34: .319 BA, .505 OBP, .721 SLG
See the issue here? When they should have been in decline, they somehow upped their games most suspiciously with their newfound friends in tow. We have seen the funniest excuses to explain Verlander’s sudden turnaround, including something to do with his wife’s breast milk. No, seriously. But the more ridiculous the explanations are, there is no way to rationalize a 33-percent improvement.
Verlander, like the team he plays for, is obviously cheating. Will MLB have the integrity to step in and suspend him? No, because it would cost the Astros money. You’ll notice MLB only suspends players where there will be no loss of revenue for the team. For example, Bonds was never suspended, while Álex Rodríguez was. Why? The Yankees are the Yankees, and the Giants are … well, the Giants.
Remember, the Yankees, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, are an entity unto themselves, and the two flagship franchises always will make profits, no matter what. Meanwhile, teams that rely on bandwagon fans—like the Boston Red Sox and the Giants—suffer at the ticket office when the teams stink. So, suspending Bonds was never a profitable choice for MLB.
Think about the Giants and Buster Posey in 2012: All statistical evidence points to the fact Posey was using PEDs in 2012, but instead, MLB suspended one of his relatively worthless teammates. If MLB had suspended Posey, there goes the neighborhood in San Francisco. Likewise, think about the MLB decision to suspend Fernando Tatis, Jr. this year in San Diego.
Like Posey, he was in recovery from a potentially disastrous injury, so why suspend one and not the other? Because MLB knew the Padres attendance would not drop with the suspension. Before the suspension, San Diego averaged 31,918 fans per game for a bland series against an average team (Colorado). Most recent series against an average team (Arizona)? Pads got 35,347 fans each time.
See? No loss in revenue. In fact, attendance has increased for San Diego. Remember this whenever MLB announces a PED suspension: How is it going to affect the team at the ticket gate? That is what drives PED suspensions, not actual use of PEDs. Imagine if MLB had suspended Posey in 2012 … the fans would have stopped going to Giants games, just as they would have during the Bonds era.
This is laughable, because it enables some teams to cheat, win, and profit from it, of course. But that’s what MLB has become, thanks to Bud Selig & Co. But we digress too much: This is about Verlander—and his inherited mantle from Bonds as the most obvious cheating player in the game today. At age 39, coming off Tommy John surgery, Verlander is having his “best season ever” at an advanced age.
He’s a fraud, and it’s a shame MLB does nothing about it—just as it did nothing about it with Bonds.