I've been thinking about this for the last two weeks. You know I have been a big advocate of dumping him on the bench, or forcing him to go to triple A until he found his stroke. If he refused, let the splinters stick in his...He was an automatic strike out and the many errors cost us games at first base. He couldn't even bend over.
Now as things are starting to change for him and as his stroke appears to have returned for the time being, what the hell happened? Steve Phillips had an interesting take pointed out by commenter lee:
" Jason went cold turkey on the steroids before the season started last year, and his body may just now finally be making the adjustment to being without the steroids. Jason himself even said just the other day that for the first time in a long time he actually "felt good" physically.
That might be true, but it's hard to know until I find a steroid user and ask him about that.(detoxing from drugs doesn't usually take two years. Many go through a 30 day program to come off of them)) Many people offer explanations about drug addiction, gambling problems and steroid abuse based on assumptions only without any hard evidence or personal experience.
I think he has had to relearn the game again. When he came up he was thin and mostly a line drive hitter. In his first three full seasons with Oakland he batted:
.291 with 20 hr's 79 rbi's and 40 2B.
.293 with 20 hr's 81 rbi's and 41 2B's
.295 with 27 hr's 110 rbi's and 28 2B's
He wasn't a big power hitter yet, but rather a gap hitter who started to drive in runs.
His power number jumped up to:
99' 33 hr's.
2001' 38 hr's.
I think we can all assume ( using his own leaked testimony ) that is when the juice started to take effect. Having been so jacked up on steroids Jason completely lost the ability to perform the way he once originally had. The strength he displayed altered his entire approach in the batters box.
Now juiceless, Jason has got to try and recapture his true stroke, his unique feel for the game and it hasn't been easy. For a guy who never stuck out that much for his power numbers, Jason K'd 140 times in 2003 as his struggles began and 62k's in only 80 games last year. This year he has 55 k's in only 64 games, but most of them came before his resurgence of late.
The strikeouts were the real indication of his struggles after he got off the juice. In the last two years he still had a good eye and has walked quite often in limited action. This year his OBP is .400 and that is largely due to his 42 walks in 64 games.
If he has indeed started to regain the feel that he had before steroids took over, we might expect the guy who hit 25 hr's instead of 41. The guy who slashed 41 2B's instead of 23, and a .315 average instead of.250.
We can only hope this is the case. With a rejuvenated ( or should I say the pre-juiced ) Giambi in the lineup, the Yanks will be a terrific offensive force again with Sheffield and A-Rod from the right, and Matsui and Giambi from the left. Sprinkle in a lot of Jeter, Cano, Posada, Bernie and hopefully another outfielder and it will go along way to get us back on track again as a dominant offensive team. We'll talk pitching another time.