Saturday, July 7, 2007

Everyone will love A-Rod in 2012

Start getting ready to love some A-Rod.

As Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez hastily makes his way toward the 500 home run milestone and catches another all-time great in homers, it made me think. Why does the general public have a distaste for Alex Rodriguez?

He's pretty arrogant. But, he has earned the right to be. He's that damn good. Besides, what team in baseball doesn't have a handful or arrogant players? It's baseball after all, the arrogant player's sport.

He makes more money than any other player in Major League Baseball, but who cares? It's not like he's hurting the Yankees' salary cap situation since one doesn't exist. Are people subconsciously jealous?

He doesn't exactly seem very approachable, but then again, not seeming approachable doesn't necessarily make you an unpopular guy.

Honestly though, for the fans in the general public who dislike A-Rod, I think it mostly boils down to the amount of money he makes and his unwavering success; people are jealous by nature. But honestly, who cares right now? At this point in his career, he isn't approaching any milestones anyone else hasn't already reached several times. Hell, this season alone, he is one of five players who will likely achieve some significant home run milestones, so isn't like his story seems like anything special. With Sammy Sosa breaking 600, Frank Thomas breaking 500, Ken Griffey Jr. possibly making a run at 600 and Barry Bonds inching his way toward the all-time mark, A-Rod's 500 is seen as just another step for him, like it's something that has always been expected of him.

What the general public fails to foresee is the eventual love and admiration for A-Rod that is coming in about five to six years. With the everlasting hatred being directed at Barry Bonds, baseball-loving America will be looking for someone to right their record books. If someone can come along and unseat Bonds, no matter who it may be, America will embrace that person to no end. Enter a 37-year old Alex Rodriguez.

With more home runs at his age than any other player in history (Jimmie Foxx is second with 464 at age 31), he's on an unbelievable pace. Hell, he's had more home runs at his age than anyone in history ever year since he was 25 years old. His pace far outreaches Griffey, who had 460 at age 31. At his current pace, A-Rod should finish this season with 524 home runs.

Considering he finishes this season at his current pace of 58, he will have averaged 44.5 home runs over his past five seasons, an accurate enough sample for his career. Let's do a little career analysis on what we can look to expect from A-Rod as compared to some of the all-time great home-run hitters. We'll exclude Barry Bonds as his data would skew the results of this for some pretty obvious reasons.

Hank Aaron
  • Peaked at 37 years old with 47 home runs
  • Had an incredibly level career, fluctuations in home run totals never deviated very far from the mean
  • Didn't start missing any games to speak of until he was 37 years old
  • Played until age 42

    Babe Ruth
  • Peaked at 32 years old with 60 home runs
  • Averaged about a 10 percent decline in home runs after 32 (not including final season in which he only played 28 games)
  • Only significant injury was a nasty case of gonorrhea at 30 years old that only let him play in 98 games that year
  • Played until age 40

    Willie Mays
  • Peaked at 34 years old with 52 home runs
  • Took a pretty big hit after his peak with an 33-percent decrease in home runs after the 1965 season (percentage decline excludes his final three season in which he combined to play 154 games)
  • Didn't miss significant time until he was 38 years old, a season in which he played 117 games
  • Played until age 42

    What does this tell us definitively? Absolutely nothing. A-Rod could very well pull a Griffey and start breaking down physically at 32, which is A-Rod's next birthday. But, Griffey had some injury issues even before breaking down for three seasons. In 1994 and 95, he combined for 183 games, part of which were missed with a hand injury. After becoming a full-time player in 1996, the fewest games A-Rod has played has been 129 in 1999 when he suffered a minor knee injury. He still finished that season with 42 homers. Excluding that, he has been almost injury free, and for the sake of this argument and the hope of baseball fans everywhere, let's assume that he doesn't just wilt like Griffey did for 3 1/2 years.

    So, let's assume the following things about A-Rod in accordance with the information we have about him, Aaron, Ruth and Mays.
  • A-Rod will average 45 home runs in 2008 (32 years old) and 2009 (33 years old)
  • A-Rod will finish the 2007 season with his current pace of 58 home runs
  • A-Rod will peak in single-season home run total when he is 34 (an average age of the three players) with 60 home runs in 2010
  • His home run totals for each subsequent season will decrease by 10 percent (a reasonable estimate mostly based upon the logical decline of Ruth)
  • He won't miss significant time to injury
  • He will play until age 41 (average of the three)
  • When he is 40 and 41, he will play half a season due to his inherent oldness

    If so, we can expect his home run totals to look like this:
  • 2007: 58 HR (524 total)
  • 2008: 40 HR (564 total)
  • 2009: 50 HR (614 total)
  • 2010: 60 HR (674 total)
  • 2011: 54 HR (728 total)
  • 2012: 47 HR (775 total)
    And that's the record...assuming Bonds calls it quits at the end of this season, which he will.

    Just for the sake of fun, let's see how many A-Rod should end up with:
  • 2013: 44 (822 total)
  • 2014: 39 (861 total)
  • 2015: 18 (879 total)
  • 2016: 16 (895 total)

    Obviously this extrapolated data will not necessarily pan out this way, but it's interesting to look at where A-Rod should end up in the not so distant future anyway. Barring some catastrophic injury, he'll pass Bonds' record without a doubt. He may not get there as fast as this data suggests, but he will get there, and you will love him if for no other reason than the fact that he has a normal-sized head and a lack of the word "steroids" ever entering the same breath as "A-Rod."

    Reasonably yours,

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    Anonymous said...

    Jealous? jesus. and maybe it's because he's bi-racial too.

    for fuck's sake, the reason people dont like arod is pretty fucking simple if you'd get your head out of your ass:

    he's a plastic motherfucker, fake as can be, a choking dog when it counts, cheats on his wife, plays bush league baseball, and generally presents himself as more of a fucking pussy then the mike greenberg on the mike and mike show

    most people could give a fuck about his salary (except for the texas rangers, who signed hom to that contract as thusly buried their franchise for years to come). and they really could give a fuck about how handsome he is.

    Scooter said...

    Well then, I guess some of us feel passionate about A-Rod. Since when does plastic cause dislike? Just think of him as a really good action figure.

    Anonymous said...

    anonymous doesnt even know the guy in person and yet he seems to be pretty aware of what goes through arods mind .. geez what a fucking manchild.

    Anonymous said...

    hey, anon # 2: where does anon #1 try to guess what is in his head?

    Jacob Wheatley-Schaller said...

    The only thing I disagree with is the assumption that he will peak when he's 34. The fact that Ruth, Aaron and Mays were so good for so long and peaked so late was the reason why they ended up hitting so many damn home runs, and not something that normally happens to players who are this good until they're 31.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it would be more realistic to guess his peak and such by looking at the guys he's most similar to thus far- not only those three but Griffey, Ott, Frank Robinson, Mantle, Foxx, Eddie Matthews, etc. (that is the Baseball Reference list).

    Anonymous said...

    I am sure I might get slammed for this, but I think the A-Rod hate has a lot to do with how the media portrays him.

    Sure, he has done some minor things that would get a few fans angry (slapping the ball vs. Red Sox, yelling at a fly ball, etc.), but I think it is the media that makes people think A-Rod is much more hated than he is.

    ESPN could easily make A-Rod out to be baseballs hero. Instead, they need to fill their 24 hour news cycle with a bunch of moronic stories that nobody cares about (A-Rod with mystery blonde, A-Rod's wife wears a t-shirt... WITH A SWEAR WORD ON IT!!!!, A-Rod might opt out next year... does A-Rod hate the Yankees and winning but loves money?, etc.)

    A-Rod could be portrayed as baseballs savior. But that would mean ESPN would have to cut out the other 25 filler stories that they have each month, and we all know ESPN cannot do that.