Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th homer today. That’s well and good, but if the poll results are any indication you all don’t really care. But you will probably care more if and when he breaks 700 and starts knocking on the door of messers. Ruth, Aaron and Bonds. Will it happen? Let’s break down some rough numbers:
- A-Rod has 600 homers;
- The record is 762;
- A-Rod is under contract through 2017;
- If he stays on his current pace for the rest of the reason, he’d finish with around 26 or 27 homers for 2010, putting him 152 or 153 homers shy of a new home run record.
Thus, Rodriguez would only have to average around 21-22 homers a year between now and the end of his deal to break the record. I find that eminently doable.
From 1996 — when he became a full time player — though 2009 he averaged 41.7 home runs per season. Those days are likely over now, but even if you assume that his production for 2008-2010 is the “new normal” for the guy, that puts him at around 30 homers a year, which puts him safely ahead of a record breaking pace. And that’s assuming he doesn’t pull out some late career mini-resurgence which gives him a random season of 40 here or there, which I could easily see happening.
Of course there’s nothing certain in this world. Health being the biggest uncertainty. If A-Rod suffered a catastrophic injury all bets are off, but that’s the case for anyone chasing a record. Just ask Ken Griffey Jr. what one’s late 30s are all about.
But A-Rod also, perversely enough, has his contract on his side. Being signed to that deal will give him more chances to come to the plate as he approaches the end of his career simply because there’s way less of a chance that teams will just turn their back on him like they did on Barry Bonds the year after he broke Aaron’s record. Whether it’s the Yankees or some other team, the chances are very, very high that he’ll be on someone’s roster for the next seven years.
Sure, if A-Rod’s skills have eroded to a certain degree the Yankees — who will presumably remain competitive — may consider him a sunk cost and cut bait on him, but if that happens he becomes a very affordable gate attraction for the Orioles or the Athletics or any other team who needs a DH and some excitement. With the Yankees paying him $25 million regardless, Rodriguez would probably have no trouble signing with any other team for the veteran minimum, and if he gets his at bats, he should get his 21-22 home runs.
There are no guarantees in this world, but I’d feel pretty safe in betting that A-Rod will break Barry Bonds’ record one day.