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?
Start getting ready to love some A-Rod.
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.
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.
If so, we can expect his home run totals to look like this:
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:
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."