It seems like most of the superstars of the ’00s have given us a reason to be disappointed in them. Bonds, A-Rod, Big-Mac, Slammin’ Sammy and Manny, among others, have all come up tainted. It leaves a fan incredulous, ready to accept that any player with big numbers is dirty.

As a result players who are not dirty end up getting painted with the same broad brush as players that are. If success is the barometer of cheating, then there’s something wrong with your barometer. 

It’s an unfair assessment, for each player should be reviewed individually. That’s not to say we shouldn’t suspect anyone unless they’ve failed a test, but I don’t think that production alone merits suspicion of steroid use.

In the case of Albert Pujols, when you review the numbers carefully, it becomes apparent that there’s reason to believe he’s a player for the ages, and doesn’t owe one bit of his success to cheating. Below are the common arguments against Pujols, and why they are flawed. 

Argument One: It’s Obvious He’s Juicing, Just Look at the Numbers! 

Well, yes, let’s do that.  First, let’s look at some other players who we know juiced (whether they admitted it or not) and see what a juiced players numbers look like. Prior to 2000, Barry Bonds never had a season with a lower than 10 AB/HR ratio, and had a career average of 15.4 AB/HR.  After he started juicing (allegedly), he exploded and over the rest of his career he averaged 9.1 AB/HR/ He increased his HR rate by 60 percent overnight. That’s what it looks like when you are juicing.

From 1989-1997 Sammy Sosa averaged 1 HR for every 19.4 AB, then jumped to 10.1 over the next four seasons. McGwire says he used them “on and off” for a decade. If you look at his ratios over the decade, it’s easy to draw conclusions about when he’s using and when he’s not, for they’re all over the place.

Over 16 seasons he averaged 10.6, but in those 16 seasons, 13 of them were either one whole number up or down from that ratio. If you look at A-Rod’s numbers they’re all over the place too, varying from 10.8 to 22.6 (if you don’t count his “learning” years.)

On the other hand Albert Pujols best (10.9) and worst season (17.7) are only separated by a moderate margin of 6.8. He’s never gone more 3.5 AB/HR of either side of his career average. And his number has never been ridiculously high, just always very good. Additionally his ratios aren’t all that different from players like Henry Aaron, who is free of steroid (though not “greenie”) suspicion by virtue of the era he played in. 

Also, you don’t see huge totals coming from Pujols. His biggest home run season is 49, which is prodigious no doubt, but not steroid prodigious. Albert’s numbers are more note-worthy for other reasons, particularly consistency. Consistency is not a thing that you jump to when you think juicing.

When you think juicing you think cycling, and cycling means “streaky.” Albert’s “the Machine.” The single most impressive thing about him is his consistency. Every year he’s batted over .300, with 30 HR and 100 RBI. No one else in the history of the game has started their career with that kind of consistency.

And it’s not just season to season, it’s month to month. His HR splits are April-71, May-73, June-63, July-62, August-74, Sep-51. Furthermore, if you look at the months year by year he’s rarely below 5 HR for a month, or over 10. Not counting months when he was on the DL for a significant portion, he’s only failed to hit at least 5 twice, and he’s only gone over 10 four times. 

The numbers don’t indicate he’s juicing, they suggest the opposite. You can’t merely look at the volume of production, you have to look at the type of production. The total accrued numbers may reflect what you’d expect from someone juicing, but the manner in which they were accrued is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect to see.

You don’t see numbers jumping up and down—neither month to month nor year to year—as you would expect to see them from a cycling steroid user. What you see is a consistent performer. And if he was consistently ‘roiding, we should have seen a failed test by now. When people ask, what about the numbers, the answer is, “yes, what about the numbers?”

Argument Two: Just because he hasn’t been busted yet, doesn’t mean he’s not dirty, nor does it mean he won’t be

True. But not being busted doesn’t mean that he’s guilty either. There’s a problem with an attitude of guilty by suspicion. If you are truly an advocate of this position, then I’d just ask you, what would it take to prove to you that he’s clean? What kind of society is it when we start adopting an attitude of guilt being proven by assumption. 

Since when is not failing a drug test proof that you’re juicing? Let me introduce to you the possibility that not failing a drug test might be because you’re not juicing. The same testing that Bonds failed, A-Roid failed and Manny failed, Pujols passed.

He was tested six times last year. We also know that they are testing for masking agents—if you don’t believe it look no further than fertile Manny Ramirez. We know that testing has caught players like A-Rod, Manny and Clemens.

So why is the testing working for the other guys but not on Pujols? What does he know that they don’t? How’s he passing without even cycling? Without an answer to how he’s getting around the drug testing and the other investigations while the other stars who are guilty are getting busted, you have to lean towards Albert being clean. 

What about Jason Grimsley and Chris Mihmfield? 

Shortly before the Mitchell Report was released it was rumored that Albert Pujols would be named in it. Of course he wasn’t. However Jason Grimsley was and there was a name blacked out in the released version, which revealed (wrongly) was Chris Mihlfield. Keith Oberman followed up on the story and the next thing you knew it was a national story, stirred by the fact that Mihlfield was also Pujols strength trainer.

There was one problem with the story—it was wrong. Mihlfield wasn’t the name blacked out. Furthermore, Mihlfield will not work with anyone who is juicing, as he stopped working with Grimsley the moment he learned he was using.

Still the rumor persists among those who insist that Pujols is dirty. In essence their argument is that Grimsley was dirty and worked with Mihlfield. Mihlfield works with Pujols, ergo, Pujols is dirty. It’s a fallacy of an undisturbed middle. The argument goes: some of A is a B and some of A is C, therefore all Bs are Cs.

It’s probably the most common fallacious argument people make, and it’s made here, so even if the facts were true, it would be a bad argument. When you add to that the fact that some of “A actually isn’t C” i.e. Mihlfield doesn’t take any juicers for clients, it makes it even worse. If anything, the fact that Mihlfield works with Pujols is evidence that Pujols is clean, not dirty. 

Having answered the three principle arguments against Pujols (weak as they are) I want to point out another argument for Pujols being clean. And, it’s the best argument.

Pujols is a devout Christian, and it means a lot to him. He insists that he wear his uniform properly, including his hat, and that his teammates do as well, out of respect for the game. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t have tattoos. He doesn’t go out to clubs. He doesn’t chew tobacco. He married the mother of a girl with Downs’ Syndrome (not his) and adopted her. He started a charity fund for her.

He’s won the NL “Player of the Year” award three times, which is voted on by players. He’s also won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, which is an award for on and off field activities which is voted on by players. He’s also won the Roberto Clemente award.

Randy Johnson said of him, “I think Albert is the one guy in our game who could go to the opposition, say something, and they’d listen. That’s how highly people regard him.” The point I’m making here is that it’s not just about steroids. It’s the whole package. He doesn’t just talk, he backs it up with his way of life. Taking steroids would be inconsistent with everything else about him. 

Finally, there’s what he has to say about it himself. 

“I can understand why people don’t know who they can trust or their hero was caught. I want to be the guy people look up to. But I want to be the person who represents God, represents my family and represents the Cardinals the right way. So many people can’t wait until I do something negative. I can’t understand it. That’s sad, because I want to be that poster boy in baseball. Just give me the chance. If we’re in a hotel and a woman gets on the elevator by herself, I’ll wait for the next one.”

“People have their agenda. You have to be careful who you can trust. It’s the same thing with pictures. I’ll have my picture taken on the field, but not off the field. Nowadays with photo technology, you can do so many things. I see teams take their jerseys out when the game is over. To me, that’s not professional. I don’t care what you do when you get off the field, but don’t do it on the field. You don’t want kids to see negative things.” 

When you take a cursory glance at his overall numbers from the last decade and see their similarity to those who have been caught it’s easy to just conclude he’s doing the same thing they are. However, if you take a closer examination, the numbers tell a different story. And when you take the man as a whole, you see a completely different story.

Read more MLB news on