Say what you will about Alex Rodriguez, but at least respect his charm. Despite admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs and serving a 162-game suspension for such a heinous crime, he somehow found a way to win back the love and respect of New York Yankees fans and a segment of the sports media that had dogged him Years.
Will any of this be enough to get him into the National Baseball Hall of Fame? I’ll let you decide…but the answer is probably no.
Don’t let Rodriguez’s status as Governor of the Minnesota Timberwolves or ex-boyfriend of Jennifer Lopez take away from the fact that he was one of baseball’s most feared hitters in his prime. The 2009 World Series champion retired with over 3,000 hits (3,115 to be exact) and was four home runs away from becoming only the fourth player to hit 700 in a career.
Almost six years after Rodriguez’s last game, let’s look back at his greatest campaigns in the big league. For this list, we took into account stats, the team’s final score, and the context of the seasons in question.
Keeping the above premises in mind, Rodriguez’s greatest seasons rank as follows:
Honorable Mention: The Long Way Back (2015)
After hitting .270 in 2010 with 30 homers and an impressive RBI of 125, Rodriguez’s fortunes began to turn. A knee problem limited him to 16 home runs and 62 RBI, his lowest in either category since 1997, in 99 games in 2011. A year later, he missed time with an unpostponed fracture in his hand and hit just 18 home runs in 122 games. Then came hip surgery, the Biogenesis scandal, a public feud with the Yankees, and the 162-game suspension that cost him the entire 2014 season.
And then the 2015 season happened.
Rodriguez, now a full-time designated hitter, hit .250 with 33 home runs (his most since 2008) and 86 RBI in 151 games for the Bronx Bombers. The 14-time All-Star joined the 3,000-player club in June, overtook Willie Mays on the all-time home run list and played a pivotal role in the Yankees winning one of the American League’s two wildcard spots. Two days before his 40th birthday, he even hit three home runs in an 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Despite only hitting a .191 in the final two months of the season and having far greater years in his career, comeback history is enough to earn his penultimate season a spot on this list.
6. A Champion at Last (2009)
At first glance, Rodriguez’s 2009 regular season numbers (a .286 average, 300 homers and 100 RBI in 124 games) don’t fall off the page.
To that we say that it is not the regular season figures that have earned his 34-year season a place on our list.
Rodriguez hit six home runs and hit 18 runs in the postseason en route to finally becoming a World Series champion. Three of those home runs resulted in an American League Championship Series win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Bronx Bombers likely would not have won a 27th title without their controversial cleanup hitter. Enough said.
5. Lord 57 (2002)
In hindsight, we probably should have thought that Rodriguez took performance-enhancing drugs during his three seasons with the Texas Rangers. The hard-hitting shortstop hit a league-high 57 home runs and 142 RBI for the Rangers in 2002 and was the runner-up in American League MVP voting.
Sometimes you just have to let the numbers speak for themselves. The steroids speak for themselves, though, and that’s why Rodriguez shouldn’t expect to receive a Hall of Fame plaque any time soon.
4. A Second AL MVP Award (2005)
Though Rodriguez hit .290 with 36 homers in his freshman year with the Yankees, fans wanted more. The third-baseman-turned-shortstop was more than happy to deliver, hitting .321 with 48 homers, 130 RBI and stealing 21 bases during the 2005 campaign.
Rodriguez won AL MVP honors, hit his 400th home run a month before turning 29 and even had a three-homer game against the Angels in April. However, his brilliant season ended with him hitting a .133 in a shock five-game ALDS loss to…the same Angels.
It’s like a kind of poetry; it rhymes.
3. The 40-40 Club (1998)
What does it say about Rodriguez that a year in which he hit .310 with 42 homers, 124 RBI, 46 stolen bases and a league-high 213 hits is only third on our list? Only four players in league history entered the 2022 season after earning entry into the 40-40 club, and the then-Seattle Mariners shortstop did so in his campaign at age 23.
Then why did Rodriguez have to take steroids?
2. See You Seattle (2000)
Interestingly, Baseball-Reference considers Rodriguez’s 2000 season to be his most valuable; the site credits him with a 10.4 WAR, higher than the 1996 40-40 season (9.4), the 2005 MVP season (also 9.4) and even the 2002 season (8.8). The standout shortstop hit .316 with 41 homers, 132 RBI, 134 runs made, 100 walks, and reached baseline in his senior year with the Mariners with a .420 clip.
Actually yes, we can See for yourself why Baseball Reference thinks so highly of Rodriguez’s 2000 season. Continue.
1. A Third and Final MVP Award (2007)
I am writing this list on April 30, 2022, just a few weeks before my 25th birthday. Just a few hours earlier I had left a small packet of ham outside and my dog snatched it off the counter. Sometimes I leave my key in the car and realize it as soon as I want to close the door.
I forget simple things but i will do it always be able to recite Alex Rodriguez’s .314 average, 54 home runs and 156 RBI from his 2007 season.
Simply put, Rodriguez was unstoppable in his season at the age of 32. The veteran third baseman hit two walk-off homers in the first month of the season, joined the club in August with 500 homers and easily won his third AL MVP award.
Remember what I said before, sometimes the numbers speak for themselves? Please. Rodriguez’s 2007 season is his best and you can’t change my mind.
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