By: Griffin Fabits
Yes… Alex Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer.
The legendary and oft-controversial career of Rodriguez came to an end Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, as A-Rod put on the New York Yankee pinstripes for one final game before calling it quits.
The remarkable 22-year run included three MVP seasons (’03, ’05, ’07), 14 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger Awards, and one World Series ring with the Yanks in the fall of ’09. The numbers are certainly there, the respect from his teammates and peers is there, but the sketchy past of Rodriguez could tarnish one of the greatest careers the game has ever seen.
When the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot rolls around with players eligible for the first time after this season, Rodriguez’s name will definitely be on that list, along with David Ortiz and possibly teammate Mark Teixeira.
Ortiz is a shoo-in, and you can certainly make a case about Teixeira. A-Rod, however, seems to have divided the baseball world over the debate of his potential future in Cooperstown.
Should he be inducted into the Hall? Absolutely. Will he be inducted into the Hall? Probably not.
It’s sad, really. Rodriguez will go down as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He ended his career with 696 HR, 2,086 RBI, a career .295 average and a member of the exclusive 3,000 hit club (3,115).
He started his career in 1994 as the baby-faced shortstop for the Seattle Mariners. In his first two seasons in the bigs, Rodriguez hit just .218 with only 21 runs driven in and 62 strikeouts in 65 games. But, just two seasons later at a raw 21-years old, A-Rod lead all of baseball with a .357 batting average and finished in third place with a WAR of 9.4, just .3 off from this year’s Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr.
Since that breakout season with the M’s, Rodriguez would go on to hit .300 in eight more seasons, as well as hit more than 23 long balls in 15 seasons. He surpassed the 100 RBI mark in 13 straight years and racked up 140 hits on 16 different occasions.
Griffey Jr., who spent seven of his twenty-two seasons as a teammate of Rodriguez in Seattle, is the newest member in the Baseball Hall of Fame thanks to receiving a record-breaking 437/440 votes, the highest in the game’s history.
Numbers-wise, Rodriguez has the edge over The Kid. Griffey Jr. finished his career with an impressive line of .284/.370/.538 to complement his 630 career dingers and a total of 1,836 RBI. Rodriguez, on the other hand, stepped away from baseball with an even better line of .295/.380/.550, 66 more homers and 250 more runs driven in. In both of their 22-year careers, Rodriguez also ousted Griffey Jr. with more games played (2,784 to Griffey Jr.’s 2,671), more runs scored (2,021 to 1,662), and totaled 334 more hits than Junior.
Cal Ripken Jr., also around during the glory days of Alex Rodriguez, pieced together a stunning 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles and was inducted into the Hall in July of 2007. Ripken Jr. retired in 2001 and compiled a Cooperstown-worthy career slash line of .276/.340/.447. The Iron Man played in 3,001 career games, knocked in 1,695 runs, scored 1,647 times, and racked up 3,184 base knocks.
For Ripken Jr. and Griffey Jr., to post these types of numbers for more than two decades is absolutely incredible and definitely worthy of their respected Hall of Fame honors. Both prestigious careers take a backseat when it comes to A-Rod’s end results.
So, what’s the holdup? What differentiates Cal Ripken Jr. and Ken Griffey Jr. from Alex Rodriguez?
In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in parts of three seasons with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003. He did not receive a suspension by Major League Baseball as 2004 became the first season in which players faced consequences for the use of steroids.
Fast forward five years and Rodriguez found himself again in a bit of hot water. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for taking illegal performance-enhancing drugs from a Biogenesis clinic in Florida. The 162-game punishment still stands as the longest drug suspension in the history of the game.
If A-Rod was clean, he would’ve cemented his legacy into baseball’s Mount Rushmore with guys like Derek Jeter, Ripken Jr. and Griffey Jr. But he wasn’t clean. He lied. He cheated. And because of it, he could join guys like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens as players who took advantage of the Steroid Era and never made it out.
Alex Rodriguez is fourth all-time in home runs, third all-time in RBI, nineteenth all-time in hits, eight all-time in runs scored and, well, you get the point. A-Rod will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball. Numbers are numbers, and stats are stats.
So, can this debate come to an end already? Can the baseball world stop for a second and take in what just happened over the past 22 years? Can Alex Rodriguez be a shoo-in just like the rest of the greats after immediately stepping away?
I say yes, Alex Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer.