Starling Marte, an outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, tested positive for nandrolone, a performance enhancing drug, back in April. A well-covered topic in American sports news, Marte received an 80-game suspension, roughly 50% of the Major League Baseball season. He made his return to the big leagues on July 18th, playing in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Entering the morning of July 31, Marte has taken about as many at-bats this season post-nandrolone as he did prior to his suspension. That creates a point for comparison between the two sets of statistics.

Comparing the two sets of stats

In April, before Marte was suspended, he took 54 at-bats. Those efforts produced the following results (according to MLB.com's stats page):

  • 13 hits (10 singles, 1 double, 2 homeruns) for 20 total bases
  • 7 RBIs
  • 3 walks
  • 17 strikeouts
  • 2 for 4 on stolen-base attempts
  • .241/.288/.370 for batting average/on-base percentage/slugging
  • an OPS of .658 (slugging + on-base percentage)

Now in July he has taken 52 at-bats including Sunday's game between the Pirates and the San Diego Padres.

In those at-bats Marte has produced the following results:

  • 13 hits (12 singles, 1 double) for 14 total bases
  • 4 RBIs
  • 2 walks
  • 13 strikeouts
  • 4 for 4 on stolen bases
  • .250/.304/.269 for batting average/on-base percentage/slugging
  • an OPS of .573

Biggest difference is in slugging

The biggest difference between Marte's presuspension statistics and his recent ones is in his slugging. His batting average is about the same and there's not a huge different in his on-base percentage. What has gone down are his extra-base hits with implications for his slugging percentage.

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Through 52 at-bats Marte has only one double, no triples, and no homeruns. His career slugging is .442 so .269 post-nandrolone is looking a lot 'less beefy.'

Perhaps that shouldn't be all that surprising, given what nandrolone is. Mike Axisa, writing back in April for CBS Sports, described the Performance Enhancer as follows: "Nandrolone can promote muscle growth and bone density, increase appetite and improve red blood cell production. It is an old school steroid that has been used by athletes since the 1960s.

It has been banned in the Olympics since 1974" (April 18th).

Maybe Marte is just slumping, but with all of nandrolone's implications for strength maybe it's not surprising that the muscle-hits are missing. Marte has one double, no triples, and no dingers since returning to the lineup. He's also signed through the 2021 season in Pittsburgh with buyout options kicking-in in 2020 (contract details from spotrac). The post-nandrolone stats should be on every Pittsburgh fan's radar at this point, because if Marte isn't the player after nandrolone that he was beforehand the contract promises to hurt the Pirates.

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