Every change MLB has made over the years was either for player safety or to preserve the integrity of the game and the game's stats. The hitting era before Ruth is interesting because originally a game was played using one or two baseballs. These baseballs would be scuffed and darkened by dirt and grass stains, making it more difficult for the batter to see the ball as the game progressed. This all ended when Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch and died. This unfortunate incident brought about a rule that required umps to replace any dirty ball with a new clean white one. Constantly seeing clearer white balls batting stats increased, from this point forward MLB has attempted to prevent game strategies from grossly altering the games stats.Merckx index said:Even without PEDs, it’s well-recognized that you can’t make historical comparisons. Baseball has gone through several major phases, with records in one phase not comparable to those in another. The era before Ruth is the best example, but there are others. For example, it was a pitcher’s game in the late 60s. One year, Bob Gibson had a record 1.12 ERA, and conversely, only one player in the majors hit .300. Then they lowered the pitching mound, and BA and ERA numbers both began to climb. The wiser people who get to vote for HOF take this into account, so e.g., HOF players from that era can have acceptably lower batting averages than candidates from more recent years.
That one factor alone—the height of the mound—can have an enormous impact on numbers, probably far more than doping. Other factors that have also probably changed the numbers are the size of the ballparks, night games, the DH in the AL, a far larger pool of players, now including many foreign countries, less development of pitchers, and perhaps the way the balls and the bats are made. Also, the fact that relief pitchers are used much more often today than in the past (the middle reliever or set-up man didn’t even exist in the past), and that starters pitch on four days rest, whereas in the past pitching on three days rest was common.
While steroids have had a major effect on HR totals, in other respects they have not seemed to change anything, e.g., batting averages are no higher, and strike-out totals not much lower. This is probably because both hitters and pitchers dope, so there is something of a stalemate. And also, as I argued earlier, because there is a lot of skill required in baseball which is not that much affected by doping.
After MLB began to expand in the late 50s the pitching became watered down as more pitchers were required for the increase in teams. After the famous 1961 season MLB responded by widening the strike zone, bringing the game back into balance (although it didn't take long for pitcher to catch up). The pitchers mound was raised in 1969 after 1968's "year of the pitcher". The change in pitching strategy, relief pitchers, and the strike zone drastically shifted the advantage towards pitchers. MLB lowered the mound taking away some of the pitchers advantages, thus a change to bring back balance to the game. (While the changes in the mound increased batting stats they were only increased to the back to numbers prior to the wider strike zone. This did not have nearly the effect PED has had on hitting. Only one batter hit over 50 HR between 1969 and 1989. Compared to 6 in the 20 years before the mound was lower. So while it did bring a balance back to the game it didn't have close to the effect that steroids have on power numbers)
Contrary to your believes HR totals isn't the only thing PEDs increases. What once was a ground out might now have enough power to get through the hole (increasing batting average and hits). What was a warning track out now has the power to leave the yard (increasing batting averages, hits, home runs and RBI). The over all power increases lead to higher slugging percentages and RBI. While also increasing these stats they also allowed player to stay in top athletic condition for much longer periods. Players stats no longer started to drop once they reach their mid 30s. Longer playing careers leads to higher stats in every category. Take a look at Rodger Clemens stats, he was pitching better in his 40s than he was in his 20s and 30s. The increased batting stats were mostly countered by increased pitching abilities do to PEDs but by no stretch of the imagination were HR totals the only stat to increase.
With that being said HR totals are the most bloated stat due to PEDs. HR totals are the most cherished stat to baseball enthusiasts and casual fans alike. The use of PEDs tarnished baseballs most important records. From 1927 to 1997 two players hit 60 HR. From 1998 to 2001 this feat was achieved 6 times with two player hit 70 or more. PEDs didn't just boost stats they have grossly distorted the history of the game. And once again a game built on its history cannot survive when PEDs make its history irrelevant.