Jason Giambi (1971
- ), the designated hitter
for the New York Yankees
, was for many years one of the best hitters in baseball
. While Giambi was well known for his home run
s, perhaps his biggest asset to his team was his phenomenal on-base percentage
. Giambi led the American League
in this category in 2000
with amazing percentages of .476 and .477, respectively (any percentage over .375 is considered outstanding). Giambi also received praise for his clubhouse leadership, which helped him capture the AL MVP
Giambi played his first seven seasons in the Major Leagues for the Oakland Athletics, providing leadership and experience to a very young team that made postseason appearances in 2000 and 2001. In December, 2001, Giambi broke the hearts of A's fans everywhere when he signed a $120 million, seven-year contract with the hated New York Yankees, the very team that had knocked Oakland out of the playoffs the past two years.
Prior to the 2004 season, Giambi became one of the biggest names embroiled in the BALCO steroids scandal when he was called to testify before a grand jury in connection with a federal investigation into the usage of designer steroids altered to be undetectable by drug tests. Although Giambi's testimony was sealed, speculation abounded about his possible usage of steroids due to his numerous personal connections with BALCO.
On the field, Giambi suffered through one of his worst seasons in 2004, batting a career low .208 while battling a sprained ankle, an intestinal parasite, and a strange bout of fatigue and weakness that was later diagnosed as a benign tumor. Oddly, neither Giambi nor the Yankees would disclose the exact nature of the tumor "for reasons of personal privacy" but sources reported that it was a tumor in the pituitary gland, a rare condition that correlates with usage of anabolic steroids.
In the 2004-2005 offseason, the worst suspicions were confirmed when an anonymous source leaked Giambi's grand jury testimony to the press. In his testimony, Giambi was extremely forthright about his usage of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, unlike Barry Bonds, who gave vague and misleading testimony to the jury.
In the 2005 season, Giambi faced the daunting task of trying to regain his once fearsome hitting stroke without the benefit of the "juice," and with the added pressure of trying to make fans forget about the cheating ways of his past. Giambi responded with a strong rebound campaign, batting .271/.440/.575 with 32 home runs in 139 games.
Unlike other players such as Bonds, who never admitted to steroid use and who are viewed as unrepentant cheaters, Giambi has largely escaped the opprobrium of the fans because he is seen as the only player who was honest, admitted his mistake, and has moved on.