With Toronto’s Jose Bautista Leading Majors in Homers, Is Steroid Era Officially Over?

With Toronto's Jose Bautista Leading Majors in Homers, Is Steroid Era Officially Over? Heading into play Tuesday, the major league leader in home runs is Jose Bautista with 34.

That's Jose Bautista, and that's 34 home runs.

Few would have predicted the 29-year-old Bautista to be in such a position — if you combine the home run totals of any two years of his career, you won't get 34 — but then again, nobody expected a no-hitter to take place every other weekend, either.

Bautista's competition includes some more familiar names in Adam Dunn (30), Albert Pujols (28), Joey Votto (28 and the biggest surprise of this group), Paul Konerko (28), Mark Teixeira (26) and Miguel Cabrera (26).

Considering that Barry Bonds had 49 home runs on Aug. 9, 2001, or that Sammy Sosa had 44 on that date in 1998, or that Mark McGwire had 46 that same year, or that non-sluggers like Luis Gonzalez had 43 in 2001 and Brady Anderson had 34 in 1996, it makes you wonder: Is the steroid era officially over?

Of course, that's hard to say. For so long, so many of us were either too stupid, naive or apathetic to know what was going on in Major League Baseball. So to say we can now know anything definitively is difficult.

Still, in case you missed it earlier, Jose Bautista (all six feet, 195 pounds of him) is leading the majors in home runs. What that means, exactly, is hard to determine.

The numbers — at least those of the league leaders in long balls — aren't exactly conclusive, either. From 1993-2005, the average number of homers for the National League leader was 52.15. From 2006-09, it was 50.75. In the AL from 1993-2005, the average for the league leader was 50.75, and from 2006-09, it was 46.

Those numbers come with the obvious outliers of Bonds' 73 in 2001, McGwire's 135 from 1998-99 and Alex Rodriguez's 156 for Texas from 2001-03, a period in which he admittedly took steroids.

This year, however, there won't be any great home run chase to captivate our attention, and we're much more likely to see another perfect game than any hitter make a run at 60 this September. Sure, there are still those out-of-nowhere sluggers who can lead the league, but the balls aren't flying out of the yard at the same pace pace as those of the so-called steroid era.

Is that era over?

Share your thoughts below.

Aug. 9: Would Red Sox fans cheer for Mike Lowell if he returned to Fenway as a member of the Yankees?

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