Rich Aurilia gives the All-Steroids team a much-needed Barry Bonds connection. We had to include him somehow, right?
Sometimes it’s all about who you know. A ballplayer’s livelihood depends on keeping his body in peak physical condition, and to accomplish this, he must be extremely careful about what goes into it. The designer PED firms—like BALCO—that rose to prominence in the ‘90s vied for the attention of the game’s biggest stars, and relied almost exclusively on word of mouth to do it. In the 1990s, there was no bigger star than Barry Bonds.
In their bestselling book Game of Shadows, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams write that a jealous Barry Bonds began using steroids after the infamous 1998 season in which notorious ’roiders Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captured America’s imagination with their tape-measure blasts. This Midwestern fireworks display, unfortunately, overshadowed an equally impressive show out West. Bonds finished the season with a .303/37/122 line and a 1.047 OPS, but the fanfare surrounding McGwire and Sosa drowned him out; he ended up finishing a disappointing (by his standards) eighth in MVP voting. An angry Bonds allegedly began using PEDs that offseason, and the record books would never be the same.
Through the 1998 season, Rich Aurilia was a light-hitting part-time shortstop for Bonds’ Giants. He sported a career .262 average with just 19 home runs over 852 at bats and had yet to crack double digit home runs in any single season.
In 1999 (the year Bonds allegedly began acquiring the best designer steroids on the planet), however, Aurilia inexplicably emerged as the best power-hitting shortstop in the National League. He turned in a .281/22/80 line, all career highs. In fact, he hit more home runs in 558 at bats in 1999 than he had in his entire career up to that point.
Aurilia continued his dominance of National League pitching for two more years, capping it off with a 2001 season where he hit 37 dingers to go along with a .324 batting average and a ridiculous .941 OPS. All told, he smashed 79 home runs from ’99 to ’01, leading all NL shortstops.
Like many implicated steroid users, Aurilia’s career then took an abrupt downward turn. He posted a .257/15/61 line with a .718 OPS, almost a full quarter of a point below his mark just one year prior. After 2001, for the rest of his eight-year career, Aurilia would hit 88 home runs, barely eclipsing his three-year total during his peak. He was released by the Giants in 2003 and bounced around the league as a part-time or utility infielder, and would only once hit even half as many bombs as he did in 2001.
Rich Aurilia never tested positive for steroids. If he did use PEDs, like most, he’ll probably never come forward and admit it, either. What we do know, though, is that he shared a clubhouse with one of the most (if not the most) prolific ‘roiders of the dark Steroid Era.
We also know that he’ll be manning the shortstop position on our All-Steroids team. At the very least, this team needs somebody with Barry’s number on speed dial.
More From the All-Steroids Team:
- C: Todd Hundley
- 1B: Phil Nevin
- 2B: Bret Boone
- 3B: Ken Caminiti
- OF: Gary Matthews Jr.
- OF: Brady Anderson
- OF: Jay Gibbons
- UTIL: Jay Bell
- DH: David Ortiz
- SP: Edinson Volquez
- MRP: Brendan Donnelly
- SU: John Rocker
- CL: Eric Gagne