Alex Rodriguez may be one of the top five baseball players ever. Yes, that is what I said. However, with his admission to PED use, which was only after he was pinned against a wall with his supplier ratting him out to try and save himself, his career is forever tainted.
Will he ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame? It looks to be unlikely considering Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and anyone else linked with steroid use in the 1990s has been locked out.
The sad thing is all of these players were well on their way to Hall of Fame numbers without the steroid use. McGwire however did not feel like he was a sure thing so he got on the juice. When he and Sammy Sosa obliterated Roger Maris single season home run record and got all of that publicity and fame, the others who were better players than those two felt as if they needed to get it on this. A-Rod was one of them.
But Rodriguez did not need to. Neither did Bonds or Clemens. All of them would have ended up with Hall of fame numbers without the PEDs.
He turned down a scholarship to play both baseball and football for the University of Miami and instead opted to sign with the Mariners when he was drafted in the first round at age 17.
Graphic via cwallpapers
Rodriguez broke in with the Mariners in 1994 at age 18. He was the youngest position player in Mariners history and only the third 18-year-old shortstop in MLB history. He spent the next season bouncing back and forth between Seattle and Triple A Tacoma. In 1996 he took over as the regular Mariners shortstop. He hit 36 homers and drove in 123 runs in his first full season in the big leagues. He also won the AL batting crown with a .358 average, the highest for an AL right hand batter since Joe DiMaggio in 1939 hit .381.
So we can see we were watching a supremely talented player right from the beginning. Only Al Kaline and Ty Cobb had won the A.L. Batting title at a younger age.
In 1997 his numbers slipped to .300 with 23 homers and 84 RBIs. How many players would love to have those numbers on their best season?
In 1998, A-Rod became a member of the 40-40 club with 42 homers and 46 steals. He set the American League record for home runs by a shortstop. So we are not dealing with a Brady Anderson here. This guy has always been able to flat out play.
How good has he been in his career and how much of that is due to PEDs? We won’t ever know the answer to that question. But is Alex Rodriguez one of the best baseball players in the game’s history? There is no doubt.
He will end his career with over 700 homers and 2000 RBIs. Had he never taken any PEDs he may have gotten to those number anyway. Remember, he lost nearly two full seasons to a suspension for his PED involvement. So whatever advantage he gained may have been wiped out by missing all those at bats.
One thing we do know, is that he is clean now and at 40 years old, after missing two years, he is still raking. He has team high 24 home runs, tied with Mark Teixeira and 59 RBIs and we are still in July. He may end up with a 40 homer 100 RBI season at age 40.
So is he a great player or a cheater and a liar? That will be for history to decide.
Graphic via zimbio