I’ve been following the steroids controversy in baseball for some time. In 2005, major league baseball implemented a restrictive policy that was meant to be taken seriously. Since then, Congress has held hearings, many players have been outed as users, and even more draconian policies have now been adopted.

Has the policy been working?

Yesterday, a (relatively obscure) major league player was suspended for 50 days. That’s interesting, but not very revealing in light of the amnesty recently granted to players named last winter in the Mitchell Report.

Take a look at the numbers in this table:

From 2000 to 2006, major league hitters connected for a home run every 32.3 at bats.

In 2007, it took hitters 35 ABs to hit a HR.

After a full month of baseball in 2008, hitters are producing HRs only every 41.8 ABs.

In terms of the entire season, April is a poor sample. The weather is colder, which deflates scoring. We really need to wait until July and August to find out if this trend continues.

But the numbers are interesting. It would appear as if the HR binge of the past 15 years is ending.

Incidentally, the data come from ESPN, which gets it from STATS Inc.