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Albert Pujols, Steroid Era Victim

There was an interesting article from Beyond The Box Score over the weekend positing exactly this: That Albert Pujols is not just a but the "victim of the steroid era." For my money that title belongs to Frank Thomas, one of the few players to speak out against steroids in the nineties, and whose numbers were positively Pujolsian; he lost an MVP award to Jason Giambi in his comeback year of 2000, and his 1991-1997 peak, which should be seen as one of the greatest hitting runs in the history of baseball, is just one of many from the high-offense 90s. 

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But if you assume, as the article does, that Pujols is clean—and having played most of his career in the "post-steroids" regime, there's reason enough to—Pujols certainly spent much of the beginning of his career in the shadow of Barry Bonds, who turned into Babe Ruth the same year Pujols won Rookie of the Year. 

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But the rest of Darbandi's conclusions are where he loses me—that fluke seasons from Luis Gonzalez and Adrian Beltre were necessarily steroid-driven, for instance. Players have always had fluke seasons, and they always will; Jose Bautista, the latest example, was worse than pre-fluke Gonzalez in the years before 2010. There's nothing tying him to steroids, least of all the way he's built. 

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And Pujols's biggest MVP snub, after all, came in 2006, when Ryan Howard won it. Much as I'd like to accuse Howard of steroids, it's clear to me that he's on nothing stronger than the Subway Diet. 

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