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Monday, March 28, 2016

Alex Rodriguez: 30 + 30 = 747. What then?

Alex Rodriguez hit 33 home runs (HR) in 2015. This despite turning 40 on July 27 and being suspended for the entire 2014 season. His contract includes both the 2016 and 2017 seasons after which Rodriguez will probably, but not definitely, retire. Rodriguez displayed characteristic ambivalence a few days ago in discussing it with media people. Rodriguez will be paid $21 million in each of the next two seasons. There's also that $30 million marketing agreement between Rodriguez and the Yankees for HR milestones reached. There is disagreement between the parties over whether that is still valid after the finding that resulted in the suspension of Rodriguez for 2014.

Rk Player HR From To Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Barry Bonds 762 1986 2007 21-42 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 1996 2558 688 1539 106 4 91 165 514 141 .298 .444 .607 1.051 *78H/D9 PIT-SFG
2 Hank Aaron 755 1954 1976 20-42 3298 13941 12364 2174 3771 624 98 2297 1402 293 1383 32 21 121 328 240 73 .305 .374 .555 .928 *9873DH/45 MLN-ATL-MIL
3 Babe Ruth 714 1914 1935 19-40 2504 10622 8399 2174 2873 506 136 2214 2062 1330 43 113 2 123 117 .342 .474 .690 1.164 97/H381 BOS-NYY-BSN
4 Alex Rodriguez 687 1994 2015 18-39 2719 11964 10341 2002 3070 541 31 2055 1324 97 2220 175 16 108 257 326 76 .297 .382 .554 .937 65D/H3 SEA-TEX-NYY
5 Willie Mays 660 1951 1973 20-42 2992 12496 10881 2062 3283 523 140 1903 1464 192 1526 44 13 91 251 338 103 .302 .384 .557 .941 *8H/39675 NYG-SFG-NYM
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/27/2016.

Photo of Álex Rodríguez
Those 33 HR enabled Rodriguez to pass Willie Mays in 2015. Only 13 more and Rodriguez will reach 700. 28 HR in 2016 will put Rodriguez past Babe Ruth.

But what if Rodriguez hits 30 in 2016 and then another 30 in 2017? That would have seemed ludicrous one year ago, that Rodriguez might hit 30 HR in each of the three remaining years on what was then seen as an onerous contract. Now it still seems difficult but not impossible.

Let's say that Rodriguez does that and is sitting at 747 HR after his contract expires following the 2017 season. It takes two to tango. If Rodriguez is still healthy, is there any doubt that he would want to play another season and go for the record that had seemingly been taken away from him by commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig and his master prosecutor and successor Rob Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer? And what of the Yankees? Wouldn't Rodriguez be sufficiently rehabilitated by then to be offered another contract, this one for a single year?

And how would baseball fans view all this? That Rodriguez is a cheating usurper who deserves nothing? Or that despite all, it's really amazing that Rodriguez could still break the record, that the one year suspension had cleansed Rodriguez and made up for whatever advantage Rodriguez might have gained by cheating?

We fans don't have much sense when it comes to home runs. We still consider totals way more than we should. Even something as basic as opportunities are overlooked. Rodriguez has almost 2,000 more at bats (AB) than Babe Ruth and 494 more than Barry Bonds. If Rodriguez passes Bonds, Rodriguez will probably have these additional AB:
2016 550
2017 550
2018 400

That's another 1,500 AB plus the almost 500 more Rodriguez already has. It would equal about 2,000 more AB than Bonds. So if Rodriguez sets the record, what will that prove?

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