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A Reflection on the Career of Alex Rodriguez to Date

Photo taken from Google Images

I recently ran into this CNN feature from 1995 on Alex Rodriguez. If you think about it, they were making a pretty big deal about him – when was the last time a major news outlet did a feature on an up and coming teenage pro athlete? LeBron James is the only one I can think of. This all got me reflecting on the hype surrounding A-Rod through his career, beginning in his high school days in his hometown of Miami.

First year in pro ball after being selected number one overall, the 18-year-old rangy shortstop reaches Triple-A Calgary and hits .311/ .359/ .588. Gets his first cup of coffee.

Second year in pro ball, now 19, he hits .360/ .411/ .654 in Triple-A Tacoma — Tacoma, by the way, until its 2011 renovations, may have been the most cavernous park in the country, and the ball flies through cool sea air. Second cup of coffee.

Third year in pro ball, now 20 and in the Major Leagues, hits .358/ .414/ .631, plays Gold Glove worthy shortstop (if not for that Omar Vizquel guy), and is worth 9.8 WAR in 146 games.

Though his career is controversial — for reasons many of which he invited himself — his 629 home runs is 6th on the all-time list, and his 112 WAR is 18th on the all-time list.

And those numbers are still climbing. Still going strong, he’s fresh off his 35-year-old, injury-riddled season with a still-impressive 4.2 WAR in 99 games.

Alex Rodriguez bats in a game on April 19, 2008.

Image via Wikipedia

If there was a more hyped prospect in baseball history who fulfilled his potential as much as Alex did, I’d like to see it. Griffey? Broke down by age 31. Bonds? Better player, but not everyone saw it until after he was drafted. Clemens? Maddux? Not first-overalls. Clemente? The guy was Rule-5’d. Mickey Mantle? OK, maybe, but a big part of that hype was likely the media and to many in the 1950s Yankees = MLB. Alex played in small and medium markets until donning pinstripes and the media paid attention anyway.

Love him or hate him, MLB has been better off with A-Rod than without. For those of us who paid him any attention through his entire career, we’ve gotten a real treat.

 

And now for a fun fact that is neither here nor there:

 

– In the CNN feature, Lou Piniella praises Alex for his potential and compares him to Cal Ripken – the best shortstop in the Liveball Era. But less than 2 years before that in the early summer of 1993, on the upcoming draft, Sweet Lou said: “Now let me get this straight. Darren Dreifort is close to pitching in the big leagues right now, and we need bullpen help, right? Then why are we even talking about that guy in Florida?” Mariners Head of Scouting at the time, Roger Jongewaard, replied simply, “Because he’s special.”

 

Dreifort, the number 2 overall pick in the 1993 draft, would go on to accumulate 4.8 WAR in an injury-plagued career that is commonly panned by Dodger fans.

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