Rodriguez Hits 600

In the first inning of today’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Rodriguez blasted his 600th career home run to dead center field off of Toronto starter Shaun Marcum. You can watch the video here.

Rodriguez becomes the seventh player to reach this milestone, and he does so at only 35 years old, suggesting that he may be able to chase 700 and the marks put up by Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. If Rodriguez can do anything near what either of these three monoliths put up after their age-34 seasons (Rodriguez turned 35 on July 27th, meaning he spent a majority of the 2010 season as a 34-year-old), even 800 home runs could be a possibility. Ruth had the weakest twilight years of the trio, with 198. Aaron blasted 245 in the eight seasons he played after turning 35, but that doesn’t quite touch Bonds’s 317. Of course, Bonds’s performance is covered by the shadow of the steroids era, but it still far outweighs the performance of any of his peers at that age.

Can Alex Rodriguez keep up his performance? Even though New Yankee Stadium favors left handed hitters more than right handed hitters, StatCorner’s park factors suggest it should still help Rodriguez in his quest for 800 or 762 or 755 or any other number he’s going after. The real question is if he can fend off the effects of aging long enough.

A-Rod’s power from ages 31-34 is trending down and right now it’s hard to imagine him rattling off another 200 home runs in his career to reach 800. It’s possible that 762 will be tough for him to reach, and we always have to account for the possibility of injury. However, Aaron had an even less impressive, albeit more consistent, stretch in that same time of his career, and he went on to be a tremendous slugger through age 40. Ruth’s career was simpler, as he steadily declined from utterly ridiculous to merely really good from age 32 to age 40, but Ruth’s power numbers were driven by a more balanced attack between doubles and home runs, whereas Aaron didn’t hit many doubles in his later career.

Alex Rodriguez has already cemented himself as one of the elite hitters in the game’s history at a relatively young age. Now the question becomes how much does he have left. He certainly has the chance to be the first player to reach 800 home runs stateside – one can never forget the great Sadaharu Oh and his 868 career Japanese home runs – but there’s also no guarantee, given the realities of injury and aging, that he can reach the records of Bonds and Aaron or even become the fourth player to reach 700 home runs. Over the next few years, we will find out if Rodriguez can join this pantheon of greats, but even if he doesn’t, this is an accomplishment to be celebrated.

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Sean
Guest
Sean

I’ve seen people mention Oh’s record in the past…and I’m kind of curious why we’re supposed to care. Oh spent his entire career playing in a far inferior league with very different playing conditions. How is his record at all relevant to anything?

Sean K
Guest
Sean K

I agree, it isn’t relevant. If we’re going to point out Oh’s career numbers then I might as well point out that I hit 1,243 career homeruns in backyard wiffle ball from 1992-1996. You’re almost halfway there A-Rod…

TomG
Member
TomG

But you were juicing on Hi-C and Five Alive at the time, so your record comes with an asterisk. Little Billy Richards down the street is the true, clean backyard wiffleball HR King with 1,137.

Teej
Guest
Teej

It’s just good to know. It’s like Josh Gibson’s insane homer numbers in the Negro Leagues — you don’t have to equate them with MLB records, but it’s still worth mentioning. Eight hundred homers is pretty impressive in any league.

BC
Guest
BC

If non-MLB homerun totals do count, then maybe Oh is not the only guy to hit 800+ home runs. Bonds had 20 dingers in the Pacific Coast League & Carolina Leagues, and another 45 in the PAC-10. Just how much better was the talent level in the Japanese Central League in 1960? You have to draw the line somewhere.

Xeifrank
Guest

Was Oh’s competition inferior to Ruth’s?

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

That’s a good question. I think the real challenge is, as it’s always been, quantifying or measuring the level of Ruth’s competition somehow. We know or think we know that it was considerably lower than at present, and we can point to several factors which suggest that conclusion, but in the end, since the players all played against each other, it’s really difficult to say how good or bad the 1920s and ’30s major leagues were in any real sense…

BC
Guest
BC

Do you think Hector Espino’s 480 career home runs in the Mexican League was against better competition than when Richard Newland scored 88 wickets against Kent in 1780?

chaokang
Member
chaokang

I guess Newlands performance was more impressive since he died 2 years before 1780. Also wickets arent scored, they are taken.

BC
Guest
BC

He had been dead for 2 years? Must have been on the roids.

Aaron/YYZ
Guest
Aaron/YYZ

We can go around and around on this… When Ruth played, balls that hit the foul pole were ground-rule doubles. Balls that went over the wall but hooked foul past the pole were still considered foul balls. Park factors were even more messed up than any modern day stadium.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Year_Babe_Ruth_Hit_104_Home_Runs

Richard
Guest
Richard

“He had been dead for 2 years? Must have been on the roids.”

That is the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile. You have made my day much better than it was pre-comment.

Stew
Guest

I think we need to be talking about THIS home run:
http://thebeenstew.com/2010/08/04/celebrating-a-monumental-home-run/