A-Rod as a Player, If We’ve Seen the Last of Him

Now that Alex Rodriguez‘ career has quite possibly come to an end, it’s time to put it into some sort of historical perspective. He’s not just the player whose career is apparently ending in disgrace, with any number of emerging subplots. He’s also the Miami high school wunderkind, the Mike Trout of his time in his Seattle days, and guy who signed the biggest contract in baseball history – twice – with the Rangers and Yankees. He resides near the top of many all-time leaderboards, but at the same time his career can be seen as a disappointment.

He’s a paradoxical character who has been a consistent elite performer, but seems to be loved by no fan base, and has been derided for his postseason output though the numbers aren’t much different from those of Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson or Derek Jeter. He just might be the most universally hated superstar in US sports history. Let’s take a step back from all of it, however, and with as a critical and unbiased an eye as possible, assess his career and see where it fits within the history of the game.

Alex Rodriguez was the first player selected in the 1993 June amateur draft. For the second time in six years, the Seattle Mariners had the good fortune of being the worst and picking first at the right time, and now possessed both Ken Griffey, Jr., and Rodriguez in their organization. Within months, it was clear that the Mariners held title to the two single most valuable properties in the game at that time.

If we were to have an all-time draft that included all 49 draft classes based on each player’s overall future potential at the time they were drafted, it’s a pretty safe bet that A-Rod would be selected first overall. He had it all, present body and tools, future projection, advanced feel for the game, premium position, and he didn’t turn 18 until after the draft. At the very least, this was a regular major league shortstop, and if all went well, he would turn into something unlike that which the game had ever seen. For a very long time, all went well.

Rodriguez didn’t play his first professional game until the spring of 1994, and he didn’t waste time. He knifed through three levels, up to AAA, at age 18 in 1994, posting a stellar .312-.376-.577 line, and even made a cameo big league appearance. He then logged 54 more games at AAA Tacoma in 1995, batting .360-.411-.654 at age 19, declaring himself ready for the show. For the second straight year, he struggled in a short big league stint, but no matter – he was a blue chipper’s blue chipper. I’ve been ranking minor league prospects using a formula that measure production and age relative to minor league level since 1993, and A-Rod is the only position player to rank 1st overall in back-to-back seasons. He also posted the highest single season score of any prospect over that time.

The minor leagues were historically loaded in the mid-90’s, but Rodriguez was in a class by himself, far outdistancing the Andruw Joneses, Vladimir Guerreros, Derek Jeters, Scott Rolens, Todd Heltons and Nomar Garciaparras of the time. Since that era, Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton were the only two prospects even on his wavelength – and have I mentioned that A-Rod was a shortstop?

After his limited at-bat struggles in the 1994 and 1995 strike years, Rodriguez hit the ground sprinting from Day One in 1996. The big leagues had a sparkling new superstar on their hands. To put his age 20 1996 season in perspective, well……his .358-.414-.631 line earned him a Mike Trout-ish 2nd place finish in the MVP voting. There are eight age 20 seasons that stand out above the rest – Ty Cobb 1907, Mike Trout 2012, Mel Ott 1929, Ted Williams 1939, Rogers Hornsby 1916, Alex Rodriguez 1996, Mickey Mantle 1952, and Al Kaline 1955. Jimmie Foxx 1928 and Frank Robinson 1956 would be next, and Ken Griffey, Jr., 1990 isn’t too far behind. No flukes there. This obviously marked him as an emerging inner circle superstar, and unlike all of the others, Rodriguez was a shortstop.

And a shortstop he remained, throughout his five full seasons in Seattle and three more in Texas. His OPS+ ranged from 120 to 163 over that period, he scored 100 or more runs for the first eight of what would become 13 consecutive seasons, and had as many as 54 doubles, 57 homers, 142 RBI, 100 walks and 46 steals in a season over that span. His batting average was as high as .358, his OBP as high as .420, and his SLG as high as .631. Even more impressive than the height of his peaks, however, was the incredible height of his valleys. No off years here. Still only 27 years old, through eight seasons as a regular shortstop, A-Rod had clearly marked himself as the greatest player at his position through that age in the modern history of the game. In fact, he was on the short list of the greatest offensive players at any position through roughly that age, with that level of experience in the game’s history.

LAST FIRST Age Yrs. + OBP 8Y + SLG 8Y OPS+ 8Y
Cobb Ty 26 8 18.53 22.53 184
Hornsby Rogers 27 8 17.22 20.78 174
Musial Stan 29 8 16.71 20.35 171
Foxx Jimmie 27 8 15.03 20.11 176
Pujols Albert 28 8 16.83 18.30 170
Speaker Tris 28 8 16.66 17.19 170
Gehrig Lou 29 8 13.72 18.61 182
Mantle Mickey 26 8 14.54 17.29 176
Collins Eddie 28 8 16.12 11.41 161
Mays Willie 29 8 11.02 16.11 160
Ramirez Manny 29 8 11.86 15.16 155
Ott Mel 26 8 12.37 13.92 156
Allen Dick 29 8 11.24 14.88 160
Bonds Barry 28 8 11.89 14.02 156
Robinson Frank 27 8 11.99 13.85 148
Crawford Sam 28 8 8.19 15.50 144
Rodriguez Alex 27 8 8.33 15.26 148
Snider Duke 29 8 9.12 14.16 147
Vaughan Arky 27 8 15.59 7.69 143
Yastrzemski Carl 28 8 13.55 9.72 140

Above is a list of players with eight years experience as a regular, and within two years of A-Rod’s age, who compiled the highest number of combined standard deviations above league average in OBP and SLG over those eight seasons. Each player’s OPS+ through eight full-time seasons is listed. A-Rod ranks 17th on this list, among all players whose 1st eight seasons as a regular occurred before they turned 30. Arky Vaughan is the only other shortstop listed, and his career hit the wall in his early thirties. For the record, A-Rod’s OBP component is second lowest among the group to Sam Crawford, another player who was much better in his twenties than his thirties. At this stage, Rodriguez clearly appeared on track to be a unique all-time great, at least by the numbers.

Some interesting other aspects of his career had begun to emerge, however. He was clearly no longer the likeable ingénue that emerged onto the scene at age 20 in 1996. First, he had left Seattle after the 2000 season as a free agent at the tender age of 25, thanks in part to service time accrued during the 1994-95 work stoppage. The Mariners promptly won 116 games in 2001. He went to Texas, hogged up a huge chunk of the team’s payroll, and never reached the postseason there before reopening his contract and moving onto the Yankees after the 2003 season. This also marked the end of his days as a regular shortstop. Oh, and by the way, as good of an offensive player as he was in Seattle and Texas, he had yet to reach his offensive peak. That would happen between 2005 and 2007, as a Yankee.

As superstar offensive peaks go, it wasn’t particularly overpowering, but with A-Rod, the amazing thing is the number of years one has to choose from to select a three-year peak. WAR-wise, his shortstop years are going to win out, but looking at the bat alone, he posted seven years with an OPS+ over 150, five over 160, and two over 170, both of them in the same three-year period. Again, looking at cumulative standard deviations above league average OBP and SLG, here are the ten most comparable three-year peaks. (A-Rod’s ranks 40th best in MLB history.)

LAST FIRST Age Seasons + OBP 3Y + SLG 3Y OPS+ 3Y
Vaughan Arky 22-24 34-36 8.52 5.04 161
Jones Chipper 34-36 06-08 7.56 5.97 165
Ott Mel 28-30 37-39 6.89 6.63 167
Bagwell Jeff 26-28 94-96 7.19 6.08 177
Aaron Hank 37-39 71-73 5.21 8.15 173
Rodriguez Alex 29-31 05-07 6.09 7.16 161
Thome Jim 30-32 01-03 5.90 7.32 173
Mays Willie 32-34 63-65 5.26 7.95 177
DiMaggio Joe 24-26 39-41 5.46 7.73 180
Belle Albert 27-29 94-96 4.56 8.33 174
Carew Rod 29-31 75-77 7.55 5.27 161

At the end of his peak period, after the 2007 season, A-Rod was a freight train. He had just completed his age 31 season, already had 518 career homers, and had played 154 or more games in each of his seven previous seasons. He had won the AL MVP Award over a loaded field in three of the previous five seasons. Looking at the above table listing comparable peaks, almost half of his contemporaries peaked later than he did, so it could very reasonably have been said that even better days lied ahead for Rodriguez after the 2007 season. Who was to know that A) he would never play as many as 140 games in a season again; B) only one of his 13 consecutive years with 100 runs scored was ahead of him; C) he would never again hit 40 HR in a season, and D) his OPS+ would decline each of the next six seasons.

This is where the irony sets in. Steroids are going to be a huge part of Rodriguez’ legacy, no matter the nature of the factual details. Circumstantially, most likely believe that he started using during his Texas years, though some might argue that it began well before. Did he “need” steroids? How much better could he actually get beyond the reality of his Seattle years? If steroids brought him to his ultimate peak, that peak was just a sliver higher than his previous best, if it was higher at all.

Also, did the steroids help bring about his premature, gradual decline from 2008 onward? From his age 32 season forward, Willie Mays hit 292 homers, Hank Aaron an amazing 357. A-Rod has hit a mere 136. If he took steroids to aid in reaching his supposed ultimate goal of 800 home runs, the sad irony is that it is much more likely that they prevented him from doing just that.

So what are we left with as a body of work? A .299-.384-.558 career line, with an OPS+ of 143. 654 career homers, six short of Mays, 2939 hits, 1919 runs. He falls just short of a whole lot of round counting numbers, the sure sign of a career ending in unexpected fashion. These are the most comparable players of all time in terms of the number of cumulative standard deviations above league average in OBP and SLG, a list upon which Rodriguez ranks 22nd. Only one player who logged much time at shortstop, Honus Wagner, ranks above him.

LAST FIRST Pos Qual Yrs + OBP Car + SLG Car OPS+ Car
Thomas Frank 1B 14 27.60 23.78 156
Pujols Albert 1B 13 23.51 27.59 165
Schmidt Mike 3B 16 20.59 29.97 147
Yastrzemski Carl LF/1B 23 30.16 19.97 130
Rodriguez Alex SS/3B 17 20.55 28.94 143
Collins Eddie 2B 19 32.90 15.08 142
Brett George 3B 20 20.35 25.32 135
Kaline Al RF 21 23.13 22.30 134
Jones Chipper 3B 18 26.04 19.06 141
Crawford Sam RF 16 15.18 28.78 144

Pretty solid company – Hall of Famers all around. Interesting critical mass of elite third basemen in that range – guys who once appeared to be destined to reside a tier or two behind the great Alex Rodriguez. Like much of the rest of his legacy, such a ranking might actually be a letdown. A decade ago, if someone told you that he would be the 22nd best offensive player in baseball history, one might have said, “what the heck happened? Why so low?” A-Rod’s legacy will obviously be a contorted, conflicted one. He just might be the one current or former major league player who would lose a popularity contest to Barry Bonds.

He played more years for the Yankees than any other club, in an era where they experienced massive success – and he got to the World Series once with them. People tend to forget, but he excelled in that one shot, and was one of the foremost reasons for their victory. In the final judgment, however, this is one player who reads better by the numbers than he did by any other measure. The teams he played tended to be much better just before or after he came to town. Part of that again might be cruel irony and little to no fault of his own, but those facts are unassailable. Warts and all, however, the talent and production was very real, and to this day we still haven’t seen another shortstop quite like him. He’s the ultimate Goliath figure – gifted beyond belief, seemingly indestructible, loved by no one outside his own clubhouse. Love him or – more likely – hate him, we may never again see someone like him.



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Steve
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Steve
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t think there is a very good reason to believe his career is over. Unless you have some inside knowledge of impending blackballing. Players his age miss whole seasons due to injury all the time and come back effective.

Philly
Guest
Philly
2 years 4 months ago

The implication is not that he would not be able to produce above replacement level, but that it may be worth it for the Yankees to pay his contract and avoid having a distracting, team/doctor/union suing machine. If he is cut and collecting his ~61 million, it is likely that no other team would take on the legal risks of harboring a player such as A-Rod for his expected 2015+ production. No one will want to tip-toe around this guy. Litigation is no fun, and teams likely no longer expect elite production.

Nathaniel Dawson
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Nathaniel Dawson
2 years 4 months ago

Which would be “blackballing”, no? Absent any concerns about his PED history, you’d have to think there would be teams interested in A-Rod for the minimum salary.

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

No, ‘blackballing’ is everyone jointly agreeing to not employ so-and-so, with the understanding that trouble will be made for anyone who breaks that taboo. Individual concern about his PED history or anything at all is separate from that. An unemployable person really cannot be blackballed, per se. Like claiming MLB is blackballing you or me because no one will sign us.

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
2 years 4 months ago

So Barry Bonds wasn’t black-balled, then?

What you’re talking about is collusion, something that MLB doesn’t dare do. Black-balling is not about implicit agreement between all parties to not sign someone; typically, it’s someone slandering a person’s good name which may make it all but impossible for them to be hired in that particular industry. You could make a case the MLB has done all it could to slander his good name, but you could make a case that A-Rod has done that all by himself.

So maybe the term really isn’t appropriate for A-Rod or Bonds. If he gets released by the Yankees, my guess is that some team would be interested in picking him up, because he would still seem to have some value, but then again, Bonds did too, so….

Yirmiyahu
Member
2 years 4 months ago

I would say that black-balling is a form of collusion. I’d define it as an “implicit agreement between all parties to not sign someone”. I think you’re talking about something else. If someone has a crappy reputation and every individual team thinks decides he’s not worth the trouble, that’s simply not signing someone because of off-field concerns. That happens all the time, and can be a perfectly prudent and fair decision.

I do think it is very plausible that, if A-Rod were to be cut by the Yankees at some point in time, that every team could make the individual decision that he’s not worth the trouble (even if he were to be above replacement level on the field). But I personally doubt the Yankees just cut him. Not yet anyway.

Philly
Guest
Philly
2 years 4 months ago

Also: The precedent with Bonds and others. Bonds in particular looked like he could produce, possibly at an MVP level and no team wanted to mess with that. A-Rod is a much scarier option than Bonds to me. I don’t know if there was collusion against Bonds, but I assume there would be no need for collusion against A-Rod.

Mommy Bloomquist
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Mommy Bloomquist
2 years 4 months ago

Steroids seem to help more with injury recovery and overall longevity, and for a guy of this talent 800 HRs is more about playing time than anything. Was there an injury early in his career that might have led him down the path? It appears he missed some time in 1997, 1999 and 2000.

Steve Holt!!
Guest
Steve Holt!!
2 years 4 months ago

Rubbish!! Steroids are about post workout recovery. You can work out and feel as fresh as a daisy the following day. The recovery-from-injury thing was described by Pettite when he was talking about HGH.

rik
Guest
rik
2 years 4 months ago

Post workout recovery is a form of injury recovery.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 4 months ago

It’s a shame that ARod appears to be such a crummy human being because he’s been, for most of his career, a hell of a baseball player.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
2 years 4 months ago

Great article, by the way. Really great read.

DBA
Guest
DBA
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t think the ‘crummy human being’ label is fair. Did use PEDs? Quite likely. Does he come across as disingenuous and cloying at times? No doubt.

Stacked up against the off-field behavior of his pro athlete peers, is that really all that bad?

I’d argue no.

Elijah Dukes: crummy human being.
Lawrence Phillips: crummy human being.
Rae Carruth: crummy human being.
Milton Bradley: crummy human being
Ugi Urbina …

And so on. Yes, I’m using extreme examples, but I think the point still holds. I don’t think his behavior is materially different from plenty of his peers who are judged far less harshly.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
2 years 4 months ago

Philip Rivers crummy human being for bolo ties and supporting crummy human being Rick Santorum.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
2 years 4 months ago

Bolo ties are enough, but supporting the frothy mix is beyond the pale. ….plus he throws like Johnny Damon.

Brad
Guest
Brad
2 years 4 months ago

Agreed. I’m not an A-Rod fan, but I don’t necessarily think he is a “crummy [sic] human being.” Unhirable douche? Sure. Cheater? Probably. Overall bad person? Jury’s out at best. Josh Leuke is a crumby human being, A-Rod is just an annoying prick. There is a definite difference.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 4 months ago

You don’t need to put [sic] on “crummy” as it is both spelled and used correctly.

rik
Guest
rik
2 years 4 months ago

Let us not forget OJ.

Jackdewhack
Guest
Jackdewhack
2 years 4 months ago

The most hated player? Ahem. Joba Chamberlain says hello.

Dont Be a Jurick, Son
Guest
Dont Be a Jurick, Son
2 years 4 months ago

Not even close dude

rustydude
Member
rustydude
2 years 4 months ago

Who’s Joba Chamberlain?

Seattleslew
Guest
Seattleslew
2 years 4 months ago

Some kid who wants to be like Mariano when he grows up.

Bubber Jonnard Jr.
Guest
Bubber Jonnard Jr.
2 years 4 months ago

“Was he on steroids in high school?” Canseco said in the book, the Daily News reported. “I think probably so. I worked out with him when he was 18. He could lift almost as much as I could.”

Rodriguez put on 25 pounds of muscle between his sophomore and junior years. Former high school teammates told Selena Roberts that A-Rod was using steroids back then and his coach knew it — an allegation the coach, Rich Hoffman, denied.

On Dan Patrick’s radio interview, Roberts said that based on the sudden improvement in his bench press (from 100 to 310) in just six months in high school, and “in conjunction with the reporting that I did with [his high school] teammates would make it irrefutable to me, not a ‘may have,’ ” that Rodriguez took performance-enhancing drugs in high school.

The Foils
Member
The Foils
2 years 4 months ago

Because there is no naturally available biological mechanism for a teenage boy to suddenly bulk up, I too agree that it must have been steroids.

… wait

Alby
Guest
Alby
2 years 4 months ago

In six months? And not starting from zero? Lay off the recreational drugs before commenting.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 4 months ago

6 months is a stretch, but if he was only benching 100 pounds then he was essentially starting from zero.

Wally
Guest
Wally
2 years 4 months ago

This just in freakishly athletic teenager goes through puberty, starts lifting weights…..you can fill in the rest.

Travis L
Guest
Travis L
2 years 4 months ago

Your ad hominem is unnecessary.

What is an acceptable amount of bench press increase for an 16 year old boy?

Brad
Guest
Brad
2 years 4 months ago

I added over 100 lbs to my bench in as much time in my senior year of high school with zero supplements/PED’s. While I was athletic I was surely nowhere near A-Rod status, I had quit playing ball, I had no trainer and an okay diet at best. You’d be surprised how easy it is for an adolescent male to add mass if he wants to. I’m not saying he did or didn’t juice in high school, but the notion that he didn’t is not nearly as easy to dismiss as you make it out to be.

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 4 months ago

When someone begins lifting for the first time, seeing vast increases in how much they can bench is not that uncommon (especially if that person is a genetically-gifted super-athlete like A-Rod).

I am not saying that A-Rod DIDN’T use steroids in high school, but the bench press evidence is extremely weak.

Marsupial Jones
Guest
Marsupial Jones
2 years 4 months ago

I started lifting seriously when I was 17 after hockey season ended. When I started I could barely do 135. By the start of the next hockey season (about 7 months) I was able to do almost 300 lbs. And I’m ceetainly not on ARods level in terms of athleticism.

Brian
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Your entire comment hinges on the definition of “vast increases.”

You’re right that people can experience more rapid gains at first. But you’re 100% wrong if you’re honestly trying to say that a person can triple their bench press in six months and have it be “not that uncommon.”

C’mon man.

The Ancient Mariner
Guest
The Ancient Mariner
2 years 4 months ago

Look, whether you think he juiced or not, A-Rod is clearly an uncommon athletic talent. Given that, you would *expect* uncommon results.

troybruno
Member
Member
troybruno
2 years 4 months ago

hot sports opinions! no data! let’s argue!

Sensitive RAB Guy
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

douche

Dan Greer
Member
Dan Greer
2 years 4 months ago

I’m not sure Selena Roberts can be considered unassailable, all things considered.

Rex Manning Day
Guest
Rex Manning Day
2 years 4 months ago

Going from 100 to 310 pounds in 6 months only requires that you add 8 lbs. per week. Or, more realistically, you could 10 pounds per week with 4 weeks where you briefly plateau.

For an outrageously athletic teenage male in a focused training program, that is not really all that unrealistic.

pinch
Guest
pinch
2 years 4 months ago

jose canseco, that most reliable of sources

Steve Holt!!
Guest
Steve Holt!!
2 years 4 months ago

Only problem is… much of what he said has been proven to be true!

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

Exactly. Has Jose ever been disproven on one accusation, actually?

Dave P
Guest
Dave P
2 years 4 months ago

I’m gonna call BS (without proof) of his claim to run a 3.9 40-yard dash.

Jon L.
Guest
Jon L.
2 years 4 months ago

The strange thing is, Jose Canseco really has been a pretty reliable source. Even in the story above, he doesn’t say A-Rod used steroids; he only passes along what he saw. Canseco may go on to infer that A-Rod was probably using steroids at 17, but he gives us enough information to draw our own conclusions.

Wally
Guest
Wally
2 years 4 months ago

Pretty sure I put on 25 pounds in <6 months at age 17. Heck it probably happened in <3 months. I went from a pretty trim 150 after the wrestling season (I wasn't cutting weight that year, as the weight class was actually 152) to a modestly bulky, but still lean 175 before graduation. So at maximum it was late-Feb to late-May that I gained about 25lbs.

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy
2 years 4 months ago

It sounds like bad speculation to me.

Before going to Texas, A-Rod was around the same body size as Derek Jeter give or take a few pounds. In High School, he had even less muscle mass. He started looking like a First baseman once he got to Texas.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
2 years 4 months ago

Because males don’t continue to be able to pack on muscle mass until 27…

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
2 years 4 months ago

I went from 135-185 in about 18 months between my sophomore and junior years. Funny how a growth spurt, hormones, eating all the time, playing 3 sports, and weight lifting will do that. I’m nowhere near the elite athlete A-Rod is. I hate when people use before and after photos. Even 25-50 pounds between age 19 and 30 (like people do with bonds) isn’t ridiculous. My weight has fluctuated between 175 and 230 over the past 6 years as I’ve cut and bulked up and back again; and again, I’m not an elite athlete.

Pirates Hurdles
Guest
Pirates Hurdles
2 years 4 months ago

Agreed, nearly every male is quite a bit thicker in the head/neck/ and torso in his late 30’s than he was at age 20. You could before and after any athletic male and make it look like he gained mass.

Seattleslew
Guest
Seattleslew
2 years 4 months ago

Is it really that hard to believe that high school athletes are taking performance enhancing drugs?

When I played football in high school (about 10 yrs ago) many kids would be willing to do anything to be on the football team and many of them took drugs because they thought it would make them perform better.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 4 months ago

“Is it really that hard to believe that high school athletes are taking performance enhancing drugs?”

Not at all. I think everyone would agree that some do, did then, and will continue to do so despite the known risks.

People are just saying that the evidence regarding A-rod using as a teenager is rather weak.

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy
2 years 4 months ago

I’m sure there are some in HS who take PEDs but the reasons given for suspecting A-Rod used PEDs in HS are pretty weak.

There’s nothing unusual about teens(or young men under 25) having growth spurts or building muscle at a fast pace.

Besides that, A-Rod had tools at a very young age that not even veteran ballplayers can get from taking the Juice.

Ian
Guest
Ian
2 years 4 months ago

Not sure why we should expect his doping started in Texas. The Roberts book suggested it could have happened in high school and considering how much hs kids roid up – esp football prospects – that seems likely. I’d doubt very much he started doping AFTER he signed the largest contract in baseball history.

bobby
Guest
bobby
2 years 4 months ago

idk about you, but signing the largest ever contract in baseball history would be motivation for me to do whatever possible to increase my future performace… ie PEDs

Ian
Guest
Ian
2 years 4 months ago

I think it’s incredible naive to think he waited until that point.

bobby
Guest
bobby
2 years 4 months ago

i agree, i think all the evidence points to him starting earlier than that

KCDaveInLA
Guest
KCDaveInLA
2 years 4 months ago

If Barry Bonds’ post-record year is any indication, we probably have seen the last of A-Rod; no team wants a circus to come to town for barely above replacement level production.

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 4 months ago

Bonds was coming off a 3.4 WAR season in only 126 games (significantly above replacement). He said he was willing to play anywhere, willing to DH, willing to play for league-minimum, and willing to donate the whole of his salary. If the A-Rod situation resembles the Bonds situation, then it will be a clear case of blackballing.

But the biggest difference is that Bonds was way better in 2007 than A-Rod will be in 2015.

Alby
Guest
Alby
2 years 4 months ago

You say that as if blackballing were a bad thing.

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 4 months ago

It is an illegal thing.

Wil
Guest
Wil
2 years 4 months ago

Jake you’re thinking of collusion and I seriously doubt every team had to get together and say “Don’t sign Barry guys!”.

Teams didn’t want to sign Barry Bonds because of the enormous circus going on is not illegal. He didn’t get signed because he was too much of a distraction, period.

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 4 months ago

“Teams didn’t want to sign Barry Bonds because of the enormous circus going on is not illegal. He didn’t get signed because he was too much of a distraction, period.”

So, you believe that all 30 teams independently decided that they didn’t want a 3+ win player for league minimum, because of “an enormous circus” that would accompany him?

That seems extremely unlikely to me.

Wil
Guest
Wil
2 years 4 months ago

I absolutely believe that, especially because he was indicted in Nov. 2007 for perjury. So not only is he a known PED user with a huge circus following, he’s also been indicted for a federal crime.

Is it really hard to believe that teams didn’t want him on their team for the 2008 season?

Jake
Guest
Jake
2 years 4 months ago

Yes, it is incredibly hard to believe that every team independently decided to pass on a borderline All-Star for the veteran’s minimum, regardless of his legal baggage.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
2 years 4 months ago

It’s not hard for me to believe that no team wanted to pay Barry Bonds to play baseball in 2008. Yes, he played 126 quality games in 2007, but he played them on one leg. He was coming off knee and hip surgery, and he needed a hip replacement. There was a very good chance that Bonds would spend the entire 2008 season either on the DL or in federal prison, and even if he was being honest about DHing for the minimum salary (which would have been a bit out of character, but whatever) there were healthier, un-indicted options available for teams seeking a DH that winter.

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

What Jamie says. There were enormous medical questions about Barry, along with the legal and PR ones. I also recall no AL contender going into the season with a clear DH need. So the circumstancial evidence Barry was blackballed isn’t compelling.

Surrealistic Pillow
Guest
Surrealistic Pillow
2 years 4 months ago

How is it illegal? Genuinely curious.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 4 months ago

This. I remember being shocked that no one signed Bonds. I think I even drafted him in a fantasy league on the assumption that someone (A’s? Rays? Anyone?) would pick him up off the scrap heap.

First, it’s hard to not think that some sort of collusion happened. 3 WAR player for under $0.5m? That’s a steal. Second, if A-Rod’s situation resembles that (which it kind of does), he definitely will not be back. And I doubt that A-Rod would be willing to sign on for league minimum. He may get an awful lot of money not to play.

Deelron
Member
Deelron
2 years 4 months ago

Except he’s still under contract to where Bonds was a free agent, I’m not sure I even see the Yankees eating 61 million to make him just go away (assuming they can’t find another way to do so).

Jon L.
Guest
Jon L.
2 years 4 months ago

Bonds was also going to start the 2008 season at 43 and end it at 44, ages at which virtually no one has been a valuable baseball player. A-Rod will be almost exactly 4 years younger in 2015, beginning the season at 39 and ending it at 40. After a year off, he may also have recovered from his injuries. I think a reasonable argument could be made that 2015 A-Rod has greater expected value than 2008 Barry Bonds did.

B N
Guest
B N
2 years 4 months ago

Except in the prior season, he had been a very valuable player despite playing in a league where he had to play defense with practically non-functional knees. I’ve seen vastly worse players get far more money.

Mike C
Guest
Mike C
2 years 4 months ago

“The minor leagues were historically loaded in the mid-90?s”

* The minor leagues were historically loaded with juicepigs in the mid-90?s

Mike C
Guest
Mike C
2 years 4 months ago

stupid HTML

Oh, Beepy
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

You realize that this is meaningless, right? If everyone the minors were loaded with people on the juice and A-Rod was still better than all of them by a country mile, then how is that less impressive? It’s all about how good you are relative to your competition. If steroids were the reason for his distance from his peers and his peers were on steroids, your argument has broken down somewhere.

bjsworld
Guest
bjsworld
2 years 4 months ago

Except not EVERYONE was juicing. Even if it was common you still had a large number of contemporary players that were clean.

Bubber Jonnard Jr.
Guest
Bubber Jonnard Jr.
2 years 4 months ago

Exactly. No matter the sport, it’s never everybody.

Wally
Guest
Wally
2 years 4 months ago

But you don’t need everyone to be on PEDs anyway. Say 30% of them are on it, A-rod is was still light-years ahead of them too. And how much do we really expect steroids to help? Does it take you from just better than average to maybe the best prospect ever? I don’t think so. Sounds more reasonable that it could be something smaller like say, taking the best prospect of the last 10 years and making him the best prospect ever. Either way A-rod’s talent is indisputable.

db
Guest
db
2 years 4 months ago

The thing about Arod is he clearly was never loved by players in his own clubhouse either. So too with Bonds. I am not sure that he is nearly the prick that Bonds was, he just seems so self-absorbed and hence, mockable.

Dinosaurman
Guest
Dinosaurman
2 years 4 months ago

One of my college friends’ uncle played for the Mariners as a pitcher. Apparently, A-Rod was an extremely arrogant jerk who strutted around the clubhouse like he was the best thing since sliced bread. But this is third-hand knowledge… so don’t take it as fact.

Wil
Guest
Wil
2 years 4 months ago

Given his behavior the last five years or so, it’s not that hard to believe.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie
2 years 4 months ago

The thing is, as outlined above, he kind of was the best thing since sliced bread.

Bookbook
Guest
Bookbook
2 years 4 months ago

Yeah, but he was a humble supplicant compared to King Ken Griffey in that clubhouse. I guess the main difference was that Griffey had more of a sense of humor.

Compton
Guest
Compton
2 years 4 months ago

Could you even imagine Mike Trout’s career playing out similarly? Rhetorical– no, you can’t. Could you imagine Bryce Harper’s? That’s a clown question– of course it will!

Derek
Guest
Derek
2 years 4 months ago

Minor nit about your discussion of recent prospects comparable (somewhat) to A-Rod and great Age 20 seasons: where is Bryce Harper? My recollection is that there were plenty of folks who liked 19 y.o. Harper over 20 y.o. Trout at the beginning of 2012 (though I believe most preferred Trout). The key point is that it was a debate, and if you put Trout in the same prospect class as A-Rod, you ought to put Harper in there as well (and Harper was much more well known to the general public at the time).

As for age-20 MLB seasons, I think Harper’s compares favorably with Griffey Jr’s. Jr leads in WAR 5.0 to 3.8, but he played 37 more games. Griffey’s wOBA was .372, Harper’s .371. Harper’s wRC+ was 137 and Griffey’s 132. If Griffey’s deserves mention, so does Harper’s.

Bubber Jonnard Jr.
Guest
Bubber Jonnard Jr.
2 years 4 months ago

Almost no one (in the scouting community at least) preferred Trout to Harper at any point in their respective minor league careers. Trout great, Harper distinctly better was the mantra. Trout was perceived to have (at most) 20-25 HR potential, and Harper nearly double that. Baseball America’s rankings reflect this every step of the way.

Trout was both very highly ranked and severely underestimated — something that can only happen with a 10-WAR guy, I guess. Again, the thing that was missed was Trout’s terrific power ceiling…which is so weird because he’s been built like a fullback ever since high school.

Ian
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Ian
2 years 4 months ago

Actually, Mayo at MLB.com had Trout ranked #1 and Harper #2 on his prospect list. I’m sure many others did too.

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

All I ever read was about Harper being higher. Not that it matters much, actually.

Ghost of Brien Taylor
Guest
Ghost of Brien Taylor
2 years 4 months ago

Yes, but wasn’t that at the very end, after Trout’s breakout season? For a couple years before then it was all Harper, all the time.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 4 months ago

Bye Bye Alex, Bye Bye. He’s rich, still pretty young, everybody hates you. Why continue to play baseball?? What’s he going to prove now??

bjsworld
Guest
bjsworld
2 years 4 months ago

Well – he has 61 million reasons to stay. Unless the Yanks pay him to go away I expect he will drag this out until every penny is collected and counted.

ankle explosion hr celebration
Guest
ankle explosion hr celebration
2 years 4 months ago

My guess is that 61 million seems a lot less attractive when you’re sitting on infinity dollars, which is I believe the approximate career earnings of one Alex Rodriguez.

Then again, I’ve never had infinity dollars.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

If I’m Alex, I want to spite the Yankees as much as possible. So either by collecting or by signing with another team.

Travis L
Guest
Travis L
2 years 4 months ago

I think it’s probably likely that his identity is tied up in being a baseball player. He probably doesn’t know what he is, if not a ballplayer.

That seems like enough reason. He might even (gasp!) enjoy playing the game.

People play baseball for fun, not necessarily to prove a point.

trillage
Guest
trillage
2 years 4 months ago

I am not pleased that so many of the greatest players I grew up watching have covered themselves in ignominy and are being or will be excluded from the Hall of Fame.

Accounting is not Statistics
Guest
Accounting is not Statistics
2 years 4 months ago

I don’t like the author’s use of “cumulative standard deviations.” That is not a thing. Well, it is a thing, but it’s a highly unorthodox thing. You are taking each season’s rate stat and turning it into a counting stat. It’s weird. I can see the intent, and the results are probably similar-ish to if you did it the right way, but it’s still weird.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
2 years 4 months ago

WHO F*CKING CARES what A-Rod was as a player? None of what he did was natural anyway. This guy was on steroids when he was in high school. He was on steroids in the minor leagues. He was on steroids in Seattle. He was on steroids in Texas. He was on steroids in the Bronx.

There was never any time in this magnificent loser’s career that he wasn’t on some type of performance-enhancing substance.

Who knows what his natural level of performance would have been? And who gives a sh*t at this point?

Hank G.
Guest
Hank G.
2 years 4 months ago

I hear he was on steroids in his mother’s womb. Of course, I heard that from a friend of a friend’s aunt who worked in the maternity ward where he was born, so don’t take it as gospel.

waynetolleson
Guest
waynetolleson
2 years 4 months ago

While he might not have been on steroids in the womb, A-Rod was on steroids in high school, the minor leagues, and virtually every season he played in the major leagues.

Sorry if y’all are too simple or emotionally stunted to see the obvious here.

Josh
Guest
Josh
2 years 4 months ago

People who don’t claim to be all-knowing?

jim
Guest
jim
2 years 4 months ago

, commented the reasonable person

David James
Guest
David James
2 years 4 months ago

In the last paragraph – do mean, The teams he played WITH?

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 4 months ago

In your sentence, do mean, do YOU mean?

Yan Fucking Gomes
Guest
Yan Fucking Gomes
2 years 4 months ago

That Alex Rodriguez guy: pretty good.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 4 months ago

Can someone give me one reason not to think he was doing steroids from day 1? I mean, I’m talking like high school. The guy was crushing AAA at age 18 in his first year as a pro. Given what we know now, do we really think that was all natural ability?

Not saying it couldn’t be, but it’s funny how people will use this Texas cutoff date as if we can believe anything A-Rod says.

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy
2 years 4 months ago

Even if Alex was on Roids from day 1, there’s no reason to think he would’ve been a scrub without Roids. Steroids don’t help you hit a curveball or be a Gold Glove caliber shortstop.

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

They won’t help you make contact with the curve ball, but yes, they’ll sure help you drive it farther when you do. And so change however many fly ball outs into HRs and XBHs.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Yea, and greenies give you more energy, focus, and hand-eye coordination. Which help you play harder, longer, hit curves better, run out more hits, catch more balls, basically play baseball better but no one is clamoring to kick willie mays out of the hall.

wally
Guest
wally
2 years 4 months ago

Maybe its because this guy:

doesn’t look like roider….

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

Steroids don’t always make you bigger. Steroids is a pretty broad term.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 4 months ago

Nick, is there any reason to believe Trout isn’t using? I mean, he was a top prospect in the minors, but he wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime type of prospect. Heck, he wasn’t even picked until the end of the first round of the draft. He’s built like a tank, and suddenly he’s on par with Mickey Mantle!

And no, I’m not saying that he’s doing anything wrong. What I’m saying is, if someone dominates at an early age it could just be that they’re extremely talented.

Matthew Murphy
Member
2 years 4 months ago

I was going to say something along these lines. Using the logic above, we should assume that any baseball player who performs at an elite level at a young age is using PEDs.

Nick
Guest
Nick
2 years 4 months ago

I love A-Rod by the way and his career is fascination to me, I don’t mean to come off as a typical hater.

Tanned Tom
Guest
Tanned Tom
2 years 4 months ago

I agree with a number of the posters above, that there is a reasonable suspicion that he’s been using since high school. Some compare him with Bonds and Clemens, as a HOfer whose chances got derailed by PED usage, but I think the evidence suggests otherwise. That Bonds and Clemens were both great players before using steroids, but that it’s possible A-Fraud was using since his teenage years.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 4 months ago

Its possible Mike Trout has used steroids, look how great he is and so big too. How about Schilling, much better pitcher in his 30’s than his 20’s. And David Ortiz, just had the 5th best OPS+ in all of history since 1930 for a player aged 37. Tony Gwynn hit more HR at age 37 than he ever did in any season of his long career. Frank Thomas played college football and was built like a truck, and we all know how rampant steroid use was in college football, so who is to say it did not continue in the MLB.

You could argue that pretty much every player in the last 20 years has probably used steroids at least once. But most don’t do that because they don’t have proof.

Well Bearded Vogon
Guest
Well Bearded Vogon
2 years 4 months ago

The difference is that we know A-Rod used PEDs in Texas and nearly 10 years later with the Yankees. So unlike Thomas, Schilling, Gwynn, and Trout, A-Rod has shown that he was willing to use PEDs to improve at baseball and he was for sure willing to use them after they were thoroughly banned and being hunted by MLB testing. We also know that he’s willing to go through great lengths to cover up that usage.

Also, A-Rod’s teammates throughout his career, including high school, have claimed that they saw him using PEDs. While they may not seem like the most reliable sources, the story they tell seems very reasonable given A-Rod’s known behavior. I’d guess that he was using since high school and think that on a “propensity of the evidence” basis most others would agree. I agree that the evidence doesn’t support the accusation “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

E-Dub
Guest
E-Dub
2 years 4 months ago

Gwynn is an unlikely target. Long-time Cassandra of PEDs in the game. He’s also explained his late career power spike several times over. He changed his approach to start pulling pitches on the inner half at the behest of his hero, Ted Williams, and after also adding some weight. The doubts about him have always been half-baked.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 4 months ago

I think the hip problems have done Arod in and suspect his steroid/HGH use had a role in that despite what his Dr says. HGH does promote abnormal bone growth and could have caused a minor impingement to become more serious.

Anyways, his performance since he began using Bosch in 2010 is nothing to write home about. No real evidence his performance was enhanced. In fact, looks like pretty normal decline for a player of his age. Without the hip issues maybe the PED;s could have had his numbers improve every years like Ortiz who is the same age.

I think he may have played his last game. Yankees probably release him unless they have hope that MLB will suspend him again. After being released he probably gets the Barry Bonds treatment and is blackballed.

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy
2 years 4 months ago

I think his hip problems have contributed to his decline since 2009 more than anything else. And I agree that regardless of what he took since 2010, his performance hasn’t improved in the past 5 years.

fox news
Guest
fox news
2 years 4 months ago

Now that hitler has killed himself in a belrin bunker and his final solution for exterminating the jews has been uncovered, let’s point out the good things he did: developing the Volkswagen, reigniting the German economy…

I cringe at my own hackneyed Hitler reference, but at a certain point you are not more than your most noble or ignoble acts. We’re all composed of different layers, but at some point some of us deserve to be hated. Arod is a shameless human who could play baseball. Baseball has had these guys. Some are in the hall. Some are not. Thanks to these guys we can all appreciate maddux and glavine just a bit more.

Richie
Guest
Richie
2 years 4 months ago

Not sure how much to ‘hate’ ARod. To use Cobb as an example, I excuse his racism some as he didn’t believe all that differently from so many around him. I consider it a blacker mark against him that so many of his contemporaries, including teammates, hated his guts.

I suspect ARod used roids as a high schooler, which if so differentiates him some, but not all that much. His ongoing use via Biogenesis differentiates him some, but not all that much. As to his own teammates, he was clearly never popular, but I never heard the just godawful stories about him that you heard about Bonds.

Maybe when he’s however soon out of the game, those’ll start, then his Texas and Seattle teammates will talk, even off the record, about what a horse’s heinie he was. Till then, I’m not going to demote him from dislikeable to hateable.

Sprac
Guest
Sprac
2 years 4 months ago

http://blog.detroitathletic.com/2012/08/30/five-myths-about-ty-cobb/

Ty Cobb was hated by his contemporaries because he played hard. It’s amazing how myths become facts.

Baroque6
Guest
Baroque6
2 years 4 months ago

And he also has a painting of himself as a centaur hanging in his house

Antonio Bananas
Guest
2 years 4 months ago

And Derek Jeter watches his own highlight videos naked and says “yea Jeets”, yet people like him. Most elite performing people are douchebags because they’ve been told how great they are forever and their performance generally backs that up. Megalomania.

Swfcdan
Guest
Swfcdan
2 years 4 months ago

The dismal October performances are what riled Yankee fans the most. He only ever put together one good postseason performance,ONE. That was the last time the Yankees won it all. It seemed like he had finally overcome his postseason heebiejeebies and he was a monster that postseason. But the next year it was the same old great A-Rod during the year , and flailing A-Rod in the postseason.

Management should take some responsibility (Giradi) for not resting him more later in the year as he got older, but he deserves a lot of criticism for that too. Players are made and broken in Octorber when the whole world is watching, and he played like a broken man most of the time.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 4 months ago

“in Octorber when the whole world is watching, and he played like a broken man most of the time.”

Or, as the article said, basically like Jeter and “Mr October”.

Angelsjunky
Guest
Angelsjunky
2 years 4 months ago

I think its worth pointing out that even without this suspension, there was little chance that he was going to make it to 763 HR, or even 756. He would have had four years to get 102/109, an average of 25.5 – 27.3 per year. Even if we ignore 2013 and assume he would be roughly on par with 2011-12 in terms of playing time, he averaged only 17 HR in those two seasons.

So chances are A-Rod would have surpassed 700, but for him to get to 756/763, he would have had to play until he was 45 or so, and it would have been truly ugly getting there.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 4 months ago

I kind of hope ARod doesn’t pass Mays in HR’s.

potcircle
Guest
potcircle
2 years 4 months ago

i look at tat list and i just don’t believe pujols’ age is accurate… he looked 25 when he came up, & he looks like he could be 40, now, but he’s supposedly 33…

Swfcdan
Guest
Swfcdan
2 years 4 months ago

If he’s 40 he aint goin 30/100 every year….noone of that age does it anymore. Papi’s the only really old guy thats particularly offensively relevant now.

Saying that, he does now look a Latin 33.

Swfcdan
Guest
Swfcdan
2 years 4 months ago

Great article, really good. If this is the end of A-Rod, and the last article every written about him, it sums his career up well.

rockpile
Guest
rockpile
2 years 4 months ago

Despite any baseball greatness that is or isn’t real, I despise this player to the extent that my infatuation for one Ms Cameron Diaz was completely extinguished and the sight of her now makes me ill.

Hope to never see the d-bag play again. Best wishes to the Yanks in voiding his contract.

Nick C
Guest
Nick C
2 years 4 months ago

Playoff appearances in a Yankees uniform:

Derek Jeter: 16
Alex Rodriguez: 8

Number of postseason series in a Yankees uniform, under 100 WRC+:

Derek Jeter: 6 (out of 16, .375)
Alex Rodriguez: 4 (out of 8, .500)

Number of postseason series in a Yankees uniform, under 50 WRC+:

Derek Jeter: 1
Alex Rodriguez: 3

In 38% of his yearly postseason appearances, Derek Jeter had a WRC+ under 100. Over the same percentage of yearly postseason appearances in a Yankees uniform, Rodriguez had a WRC+ under 20.

Say all the positive things you’d like to about A-Rod, but when he’s bad, he’s bad.

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