Alex Rodriguez’ grand slam in the eighth inning of yesterday’s game against the Atlanta Braves did more than just tie the score. In one fell swoop, Arod’s line drive into the left field seats also put his name side-by-side with three of the most prolific hitters in the history of the game.
Arod’s bases loaded home run was the 23rd grand slam of his career, tying him with Lou Gehrig for the most ever in baseball history. In addition, the four runs that crossed the plate as a result also gave the Yankees’ third baseman 1,922 RBIs for his career, moving him into a tie with Jimmie Foxx for eighth place on the all-time list. Finally, for good measure, the long ball also gave Arod 1,859 runs scored, matching Mel Ott for the 12th highest total. If it’s true that a measure of a man is the company he keeps, Rodriguez is certainly in good stead.
It’s not inconceivable to think that by the time he retires, Alex Rodriguez will own several of the most coveted records in the game. The most obvious target is Barry Bonds’ all-time home run mark, which stands at 762. Giving him a pro-rated 27 home runs for this season, Arod would only need to average 21 homers per season in order to break the record before his current contract expires. Considering his recent history of injury, that might be asking too much, but if the Yankees convert him to a full-time DH sooner than later, it could prolong his career. Either way, at the start of the season, Bill James’ “favorite toy” projection system gave Arod a 22% of becoming the home run king, which is far from a long shot.
Projecting Arod’s Assault on the Record Book
Note: Favorite Toy Projections based on stat totals at the beginning of this season. Favorite Toy estimates represent Arod’s chances of breaking each corresponding record.
*Based on current production pro-rated over 162 games. 2013-2017 average represents the per year amount Arod would need to break each corresponding record by 2017.
Source: baseball-reference.com and espn.go.com/mlb/stats/billjames
Of all the potential records Arod could set, his best chance is RBIs. At 1,922, the third baseman stands only 375 away from Hank Aaron’s leading total of 2,297. Once again, assuming a pro-rated total for the rest of this year would leave Rodriguez needing approximately 65 RBIs per season until 2017. The favorite toy gave Arod about a 40% chance of reaching the goal before this year started, but, again, the longevity afforded by becoming a DH could make that a conservative estimate.
Like all great power hitters, Alex Rodriguez has made a habit of scoring a lot of runs. That’s one of the advantages of being able to drive yourself in. If Arod maintains his current pace, he’d end the year with about 1,917 runs scored, which would put him in 10th place and only 378 behind Rickey Henderson’s record total. In order to reach the mark, Arod would need to score about 76 runs in each of the next five years, which seems like a tall task considering he has averaged only 73 runs over the previous three years. The favorite toy confirmed this relative improbability by giving Arod a 6% chance of breaking the runs record before the season started, but if he can stay on the field for most of his remaining contract, the likelihood of him breaking the record seems much higher.
Finally, Rodriguez currently ranks 12th all-time with 5,313 total bases. After adding a pro-rated portion of his current season total, that would leave the three-time MVP 1,381 bases short of Hank Aaron’s record of 6,856. In order to surpass that mark by 2017, Rodriguez would need to average 276 per season, which, unless he can remain completely healthy, seems almost impossible (in fact, the favorite toy gives him a 0% chance).
In addition to the categories in which he has a chance to be the all-time leader, Arod is also rapidly ascending several others, including hits. With 2,837 safeties already in the bank, Rodriguez will probably join his teammate Derek Jeter in the 3,000 hit club sometime next season. And, like the Captain, there’s no reason to suspect he’ll stop there. The favorite toy projects Arod’s final hit total at 3,221, which would be good for 15th all-time (assuming Jeter passes that mark), but it wouldn’t be stretch for him to crack the top-10.
It shouldn’t take a record setting achievement or being linked with an immortal player to remind everyone just how great Arod has been over his career, but, for whatever reason, the Yankees’ third baseman has been taken for granted since joining the Bronx Bombers. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Rodriguez has constantly had to endure critics who question his ability to hit in the clutch and disparage his commitment to winning. Fortunately, the numbers don’t lie, so those who still refuse to accept them will have no choice but to throw away the record book along with their credibility.