Performance-enhancing drug (PED) usage in baseball ruined the game! Or at least that’s one view. Some people have said that they don’t mind PEDs in baseball since it makes for a more exciting game. And, besides, chicks dig the long ball. There are a whole lot of different ways one could look at the influx of PEDs in the game of baseball, both positive and negative, but fans are painfully aware of how Hall of Fame voters and sports writers look at the players who have been found guilty of taking them, and even those who are only rumored to have taken them.
Guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa will never make it into the Hall, despite their record breaking statistics. 87 players were named in the Mitchell Report, 14 more were tagged in the biogenesis scandal, and more were simply assumed to be guilty because they were unlucky enough to have played in the “steroid era” or on a team with other players who admitted to using. Since 2005, more than 50 players have been suspended for using PEDs. The suspensions went to league MVPs, All-Stars, Cy Young winners, and Gold Glovers. But there were also suspensions for minor leaguers who were just playing catch up to all the other guys who were doing the same thing. The list of suspended players ranges from guys like Ryan Braun, to Marlon Byrd, to Jordan Noberto.
Many criticize the MLB because the bans aren’t working, PEDs are still a part of the game, and an 80-game suspension is a risk players are still willing to take if it means the difference between a $50 million contract and a $100 million contract.
Here are 15 players who you forgot had a PED scandal.
29 Eric Gagne
Eric Gagne was one of the best closers to have picked up a baseball. Gagne converted 161 saves out of 168 save opportunities and won the Cy Young Award in 2003 after getting 55 saves and not blowing a single opportunity. In 2005 he got hurt, and his career was a bit derailed. Through the 2005 and 2006 season, Gagne was only able to play in 16 games. He had a bit of resurgence with the Rangers in 2007 (3 players deep, 2 Rangers on the list) and was traded to the Red Sox mid season. He turned his 2007 season into a $10 million contract with the Brewers, but days after signing the contract Gagne was named on the Mitchell report as a HGH user. The 2008 season was the worst of his career as he was only able to convert 10 saves, had a 5.44 ERA, and was under constant questioning about PEDs. Gagne eventually went on record partly owning up to his PED use saying, “I'm not denying it. I'm not saying I did it. I just can't talk about it. It's a touchy subject. It doesn't just involve me.” He eventually came completely clean and said that he had used HGH to recover from a knee injury.
27 Ryan Franklin
Ryan Franklin is not the most well known player on this list. Many of these players are going to be multiple All-Stars, MVP candidates, and even potential Hall-of-Famers. Ryan Franklin is a one time All-Star who had a fairly successful career as a reliever in Seattle and St. Louis. His best season came in 2009, his lone All-Star season, when he collected 38 saves and ended the year with a 1.92 ERA. 2010 he had a successful year, but in 2011 he fell to pieces, getting an 8.46 ERA, surrendering a .367 opponent batting average, and blew 4 of his 5 save opportunities. All those season happened after Franklin became the eighth Major League player in 2005. We just wanted to highlight the players who truly suffered because of the PED era. Players like Franklin, who weren’t superstars, had to do serious damage to their bodies to try and compete for a spot on a major league team. PEDs made the difference between players like him making it into the MLB and staying in the minors forever. Franklin was only suspended 10 games, huge difference than the 80 games players get now.
25 Troy Glaus
Does anyone remember Troy Glaus at all? Because you should. The 2002 World Series MVP was one of the better players in the MLB, for about 2 years. His 320 career home runs are nothing to shake your head at, but 193 of them came in 5 years. He played for 13 seasons. Throughout his career, Glaus was either very good, or very mediocre. It was reported in Sports Illustrated that Glaus received shipments of nandrolone and testosterone from 2003-2004. There were a lot of “smoking guns” that implicated Glaus, including that his doctor had his medical license revoked for issuing illegal prescriptions. Glaus was called in to meet with commissioner Bud Selig, but walked out with no punishment and no mention that the meeting happened, until it was unveiled in the Mitchell Report. Glaus’s steroid use will forever remain a question and will be swept under the rug as bigger names like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens took the headlines.
23 Gary Matthews Jr.
It seems like a lot of players coming out of the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse is linked to some steroid scandal at some point in time. Known for his defense, Gar Matthews Jr. was a journeyman player who bounced from team-to-team throughout the 2000s until he found a home in Texas where he played for 3 years. His first two seasons as a Ranger, Matthews hit .262 with 28 homers and 91 RBIs. Then he blew up in 2006 making an All-Star team by hitting .313 with 19 homeruns and 79 RBIs. He turned that one season into a 5-year contract worth $50 million with the Angels. The contract was immediately panned as a terrible and short-sighted deal by the Angels, but it got even worse in February of 2007 when Matthews was linked to a steroid ring. While he denied any PED use, the evidence was enough for Matthews to be named on the infamous Mitchell Report (get ready to hear a lot about this), and the Angels even considered voiding his contract. Matthews was a player who had a huge spike in production late in his career so there was almost no benefit of the doubt given to him. He was never reprimanded for his role in the steroid ring as there wasn’t enough evidence to actually punish him, but Gary Matthews Juicer never could clear his name again.
21 Paul Lo Duca
One of the players that Gagne referred to when he said his PED scandal didn’t only involve him was his catcher on the Dodgers Paul Lo Duca. Lo Duca was named to the Mitchell Report and allegedly the middleman between Gagne and steroids dealer Kirk Radomski. The 4-time All-Star wasn’t only linked to introducing Gagne to HGH, but a number of top-tier players in the MLB. The report even made note that the Dodgers may have been away of Lo Duca’s PED use, and that may have been a driving factor as to why they traded him to the Marlins in 2004. Lo Duca took to Twitter in 2013 to speak about steroid use. Following the 2013 Hall-of-Fame voting, when not a single player was selected to go to the hall, Lo Duca tweeted, “I took PEDs and I'm not proud of it… but people that think you can take a shot or a pill and play like the legends on that ballot need help.” It’s baffling that Lo Duca was never even punished for his HGH use as they found handwritten notes from Lo Duca in Radomski’s house along with 3 checks totaling $3200. Just goes to show how weak testing really was for these drugs in the early 2000s.
19 Mike Cameron
Mike Cameron played a long time in the MLB as a journeyman best known for playing well in center field, winning 3 Gold Gloves and being named to an All-Star Game. He had one crowning moment in 2002 when he hit 4 homeruns in a game, but aside from that one game, his presence at the plate was nothing too impressive. His career batting average is .249, he has 278 total home runs, and 968 RBIs. While the numbers are good, they aren’t great, and certainly don’t fit the mold of other PED users. However, he was suspended 25 games in 2007 while a member of the San Diego Padres for testing positive for a banned substance. Mike has gone on record saying it wasn’t steroids that he got suspended for, telling the AP, "The one thing I wanted to make sure was explained is, no steroids. I never took nothing like that before in my life.” Cameron says that he failed the drug test because of some banned amphetamines that he had been taking since his season-ending collision with Carlos Beltran in 2005. It was truly a brutal collison that left Cameron with multiple broken bones in his head and face, as well as a nasty concussion. Doctors checked him out years later and continued to treat him for post-concussion syndrome. Cameron probably never took PEDs, but everyone in the 2000s don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore, and we will never really know.
17 Jhonny Peralta
The first current player on the list. Jhonny Peralta could be looked at as the poster child for how little teams actually care about PED usage. Looking at Peralta’s power stats, one can’t help but to see the dips and valleys. One year he will hit 21 homeruns in 146 games, and then 11 in 107 games. The 3-time All-Star has a big bat for a shortstop, and when he was named in the biogenesis scandal in 2013 many fans were not overly surprised. Biogenesis rocked baseball because ex-MVPs Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were both included on the list. A-Rod was famously banned an entire year, while Braun got 65 games and went on TV to get an innocent drug tester fired to try and cover his ass. Peralta got a 50 game ban, and faced it with his head down, not making much of a fuss. He was due for a new contract at the end of the season, and in this situation, no press is best press. St. Louis, who had just represented the NL in the World Series, were in need of a shortstop and another bat and immediately were in talks with Peralta the minute the season ended. The Cardinals came under scrutiny for giving a $53 million contract to Peralta, months after he was suspended. The front office defended the signing saying they weren’t the “morality police” of the MLB and were in it to win. This signing shows that the Cardinals truly didn’t care about the scandal, and many other teams agree with the philosophy, even if they don’t openly admit it.
15 Kevin Brown
From the 90s until the mid-2000s, Kevin Brown was one of the most dominating pitchers in the MLB. The World Series Champion was named to the All-Star game 6 times and his name was annually brought up in the Cy Young award race. What people will remember the most about Kevin Brown is that he received the first $100 million contract in MLB history when he signed with the Dodgers following the 1998 season. Whether or not he lived up to the contract is a hot debate, especially with Dodger fans, but it’s what came afterwards that puts Brown on this list. When the Mitchell Report came out, Brown was named as part of the group of Dodgers players (Gagne and Lo Duca have already been talked about) that were found to be juicing. Brown has refused to speak on being named in the report, but the fact that all of his other teammates who were implicated seem to confirm that the allegations are true. There were also many in the Dodgers organization that implied that they assumed that Brown was on steroids, but chose to look the other direction as they did with Gagne and Lo Duca. Because he was named after he retired, there were no consequences to Brown’s actions. Some have even speculated that the famous tantrums that Brown was known to throw were simply moments of “roid rage.”
13 Brian Roberts
Brian Roberts is a symptom of the steroid era. Before guys like Jeff Kent, second basemen were not expected to be a power bat in the lineup. Sure there were the likes of Ryne Sandberg and Rogers Hornsby, who hit 275+ homeruns, but they were few and far between. Now it’s almost expected that you can get 20 or more homers a season from that position, and guys like Alfonso Soriano, Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, and Chase Utley were happy to provide. Roberts was on the borderline of a solid starter in 2004, but suddenly the following season he completely blew up. His homerun total literally more than tripled, going from 4 to 18, and his average went up 40 points. Over the next few seasons his homers stayed high and his stolen base total continued to rise. In 2007 he stole 50 bases while slugging 12 homers and scoring 103 runs. Roberts was named in the Mitchell Report, and confirmed that he tried steroids “once” in 2003. We aren’t here to call Roberts a liar, and he has owned up to the mistake more so than most do, but his numbers tell a different story, and it’s a stretch to believe that any professional tries steroids one time and happens to have a surprise drug test right after. Not impossible, just statistically unlikely.
11 Carlos Ruiz
It’s easy to love Carlos Ruiz. The guy grew up in Panama dreaming about nothing but baseball. He grew up loving the sport, in an ESPN story, it was said that Ruiz, “even as a toddler, [Ruiz] was always the one in his neighborhood to organize pickup baseball games. It was he who brought the balls and bats, and it was he who picked the teams and ordered everyone to their positions. He had an acute understanding of the game. When he got his first shot to play for pro-scouts he had one hell of an up-hill battle. He went to the Phillies Baseball Academy in La Vega, Dominican Republic, where he had to make the move from second base to catcher at 19 years old. At the camp Ruiz considered quitting because all the other players were much bigger and stronger than he was, however the Phillies saw something in the young catcher and signed him to a deal. In late November of 2012, Ruiz was suspended for 25 games by the MLB for testing positive for Adderall. While Adderall is not a steroid, it is a banned PED by the MLB as it helps to lower a player’s distractibility. Ruiz makes this list because a number of writers and players have called out the MLB for this policy saying that it makes very little sense and Adderall doesn’t give the player enough of an edge to really make a difference. Who really knows, after-all Ruiz was behind the plate for 4 no-hitters, maybe he would have called one pitch wrong without the additional attention boost.
9 Edinson Volquez
Edinson Volquez is the perfect case of a player who “didn’t know” what he was taking when he tested positive for PEDs in 2010. Another player from the Texas Rangers organization, Volquez had been an All-Star and a rookie of the year candidate in 2008, after he was traded to the Reds for Josh Hamilton. After that, his 2009 season was shortened due to Tommy John Surgery, and his 2010 had the infamous suspension. He tested positive for a substance that Volquez claims entered his body via a medication that was meant to help him and his wife conceive. Again, we don’t call him a liar, but coming off of an injury, some players take certain steroids to get in playing shape faster. It’s what Andy Pettitte did (supposedly), same with Gary Bennet and Eric Gagne. Volquez’s suspension was served in full, and then he went on to play for four other teams including last season’s World Series winner, The Kansas City Royals. He’s turned into a solid 3rd to 4th starter for the team and has never replicated his All-Star rookie season, where he turned in 17 wins and a career low 3.60 ERA.
7 Miguel Tejada
This is the only MVP on the list, not because Miguel Tejada was the only MVP to be caught using PEDs (Jason Giambi, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, and most other MVPs from the 2000s). But he’s included because Miguel Tejada is possibly the most forgettable MVP of all time. The 2002 MVP was a singles hitting shortstop for a small market team, which was a huge difference from the mashing power hitters that had been winning for the most parts. From 2000-2005 the only MVP to have less than Tejada’s 34 homers was Ichiro in 2001 and the only lower average was A-Rod in 2003. We aren’t saying that Tejada wasn’t an outstanding player, because he is probably the most underrated player of his generation, but he’s been forgotten, in part because of his PED scandals. First Rafael Palmeiro accused him of taking steroids, when Palmeiro said that Tejada had given him banned supplements (a comment that Tejada denies). He was named in Jose Conseco’s book, Juiced, as one of the players on the A’s who Palmeiro believed took steroids. He was also named as a steroid user by The Mitchell Report, the Baltimore Sun, by Jason Grimsley, and was charged with lying to Congress about his PED usage in 2009. In 2013, his final season, Tejada was suspended 105 games for testing positive for Adderall twice. He’s a guy who won’t be in the Hall of Fame and is widely ignored by fans and the media, not because of his personality, but because of his PED use at a time when everyone seemed to be on them. He was just one of the best while using.
5 Bartolo Colon
It does seem a little funny that a chubby guy who hit his first career home run at the age of 43 would be on this list, but to be fair Bartolo Colon is a pitcher who had many of his good years in the AL. In 2010 it looked like the 2005 Cy Young winner’s career was over. He was coming off a 2009 season for the Chicago White Sox where he went 3-6 in 12 starts and had an ERA north of 4. He also had major shoulder surgery that was going to keep him out of baseball for the entire 2010 season, so many people just wrote him off as a retired has been, especially when he announced his comeback in 2011 and signed with the Yankees. To many people’s surprise, Colon came back and was fairly successful with the Yanks, and turned an 8-10 season into another contract, but with the A’s. While with the A’s he regained his old form and won 10 games in 24 starts despite being suspended for 50 games after testing positive for synthetic testosterone. The suspension flew mostly under the radar as he was an aging pitcher for a small market (and losing) team, and Melky Cabrera (who was the favorite to win MVP) also got suspended earlier that month. Colon quickly owned up to the wrong doings, saying, “I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A's, I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program.” Because of the story of an old man coming back from a major injury and his compliance with the suspension, most people forgave Colon and he’s back on track as the lovable pitcher, now playing for the Mets at 43-years-young.
3 Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz’s PED problems seemed to damage his reputation for about 20 minutes. He was linked to the Biogenesis scandal that we talked about with Jhonny Peralta, and got the same penalty. Both players got suspended from their teams as they were making a playoff push with the World Series on their minds. Both also were in a contract year and were looking for a huge payday. Cruz declined the $14 million dollar qualifying offer from his team, the Rangers (again), and elected to dip into the free agency pool. While Peralta seemed to have no trouble finding a new team, and a new contract, there were few bidders on Cruz. There was the lingering question about his PED usage, and how much that affected the power hitter’s numbers, and the fact that any NL team would not be interested as his defensive prowess was lacking at best. He eventually found a suitor in the Orioles on a one year $8 million contract. He blew up in 2014, hitting a career high (at the time) 40 homers for the O’s and knocked in 108 RBIs (the only time he’s hit triple digits). He turned that monster year into a four-year $57 million deal with the Mariners to be there DH, and no one ever questioned whether it was the PEDs that made Cruz so good, or if Cruz was just that good.
1 David Ortiz
Manny Ramirez has had his name dragged through the mud because of his PED usage. This is fair, as he was caught numerous times and didn’t show any remorse (but why would he?). While Manny is a pariah in baseball, no one seems to care that his teammate, David Ortiz, was also named in the report that indicted Manny as one of 104-major leaguers that tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2003. Ortiz denied that he ever used PED, and everyone just said “whatever you say David.” No one cared that Big Papi was named, and the MLB even made statements defending the star that famously said that players who test positive should be banned for life. When you look at Ortiz’s career numbers, there are few other players who seem like there was an obvious boost in production. Ortiz only hit 11% of his homeruns before he turned 26 years old. He was an average bench player throughout his whole career with the Twins, and then he came to the Red Sox in 2003 and immediately became one of the best players that the game has to offer. He’s an ageless wonder now, but his career was in doubt when he was much younger. The fact that both Manny and Papi were left out of the Mitchell Report leads to questions about its credibility, George Mitchell was a director of the Red Sox at the time of the report. We all just don’t want to look at the obvious, that Big Papi had a boost in his career when he started to play with guys like Manny, and it may not have been only because of having a great hitter in the lineup.