After following Jason Giambi for the last few seasons, I became intrigued by the predictability of his homer binges and power slumps. Of course, most players go through streaks and slumps but they usually seem random and almost impossible to predict. Because Giambi's streaks are so extreme (3-week homerless droughts followed by double-digit month-long homer binges) and predictable, it is logical to guess that Giambi is likely cycling on and off of a performance enhancer. Illegal performance enhancers have to cycled (ie. 1 month on the substance followed by 1 month off the substance, etc.) for a number of reasons (ranging from the body getting used to the substance to serious health risks developing). Even legal performance enhancers like creatine are usually cycled.
Giambi's stats seem to indicate that after the Yankees stated they wanted to send him down to minors during his prolonged terrible start to the 2005 season (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7808005
), he began cycling a performance enhancer.
Apr-03-2005 to Jul-03-2005: 5 HR in 187 AB (63 games)*
Jul-04-2005 to Aug-04-2005: 16 HR in 78 AB
(26 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
Aug-05-2005 to Aug-27-2005: 0 HR in 54 AB
(19 games) <- Cycle off of performance enchancer
Aug-28-2005 to Sep-29-2005: 11 HR in 72 AB
(29 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
Apr-03-2006 to Apr-09-2006: 0 HR in 18 AB (6 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
Apr-11-2006 to May-10-2006: 12 HR in 68 AB
(24 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
May-11-2006 to May-29-2006: 0 HR in 55 AB
(16 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
May-30-2006 to Jun-08-2006: 4 HR in 29 AB (7 games) <- Cycle on to performance enchancer
*Yanks talk about wanting to send Giambi down to the minors. Giambi refuses and, with his back up against the wall, resorts to cycling on and off an illegal substance (probably HGH since he had admitted to using it before*^* [2001-2003 seasons] and is undetectable to MLB drug tests).
The complete off-cycles are eerily similiar 3-week periods, 0 HR in 54 AB and 0 HR in 55 AB. Same goes for the complete on-cycles which are month long periods, 16 HR in 78 AB, 11 HR in 72 AB, and 12 HR in 68 AB.
From a fantasy aspect, it seems to make sense to trade for Giambi at the tail end of one of off-cycles (after his owner has endured a 3-week long homerless drought) and then unload him when his value has skyrocketed after a month-long homer binge.
*^*Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Giambi detailing past use of illegal performance enhancers:
Late in 2003 he was named by FBI officers investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) as being one of the baseball players believed to have received anabolic steroids from trainer Greg Anderson.
On July 30th 2004, test results confirmed that Jason Giambi had a benign tumor which placed him on the disabled list. He was treated for the tumor, and returned to the team and played in a game on September 14th, his first since July 23rd.
On December 1, 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle announced that it had seen Giambi's 2003 grand jury testimony in the BALCO investigation. In his testimony, he admitted to using steroids from 2001 to 2003, and had injected himself with human growth hormone during the 2003 season. On December 2, 2004, the paper ran a front page story alleging that Giambi had not only injected human growth hormone in his stomach, and testosterone into his buttocks, but that he had rubbed an undetectable steroid known as "the cream" on his body and placed drops of another steroid, called "the clear" under his tongue. In his testimony, Giambi also admitted to believing that he thought he had taken Clomid, a female fertility drug, which doctors reported can aggravate a tumor of the pituitary gland.
My aim here isn't to debate whether steroids/HGH/other illegal performancers have a place in the game. Although without performance enhancers, it appears Giambi cannot be a productive major league hitter. He tried "valiantly" to play without their aid in 2004 and the first half of 2005, and his hitting was terrible. There are players like Barry Bonds and Ivan Rodriguez that can be effective without using performance enhancers (after using them in the past [Pudge's case] or prior to using them [Bond's case]). Giambi seems like a player that is absolutely dependent on performance enhancers to be productive.
But not to stray from the topic, the overall question I wanted to ask is if the collected Giambi data is reliable enough to use for fantasy purposes?