Where does Alex Rodriguez rank in baseball history?

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Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez slugged a home run for his 3,000th career hit on Friday night, becoming the 29th player to join the elite club. He had just recently joined the 2,000 RBI club and passed Willie Mays for fourth in baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard earlier this season as well.

Rodriguez, a three-time MVP award winner and a 14-time All-Star, is an obvious Hall of Famer on statistics alone, but where does he rank all-time? According to Baseball Reference, Rodriguez has accumulated the 12th-most WAR among position players, trailing Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, and Ted Williams. FanGraphs has him 13th, also behind Lou Gehrig.

Of the 12 batters ahead of Rodriguez, Ruth, Cobb, Speaker, Wagner, Hornsby, Collins, and Gehrig played before integration, which rules them out. Many will interject with, “but A-Rod used performance-enhancing drugs, so he should be ruled out as well.” I’m glad you brought that up. So did Mays and Aaron, as well as fellow Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Mickey Mantle — they used amphetamines. If one invalidates Rodriguez’s place among baseball’s greats, one must do the same for Mays and Aaron and others. Assuming we’re keeping Mays and Aaron, and thus, Rodriguez, we’re dealing with an all-time list of Bonds, Mays, Aaron, Musial, Williams, and Rodriguez.

Musial and Williams played most of their careers before integration, but they should still be penalized for the years played prior to integration. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Musial accrued 32.6 of his 128.1 WAR in that time, per Baseball Reference. For Williams, it was 45.1 of 128.1. That puts them clearly behind Rodriguez. The ranking then becomes Bonds, Mays, Aaron, and Rodriguez:

  • Bonds: 162.4 WAR
  • Mays: 156.2
  • Aaron: 142.6
  • Rodriguez: 117.5

Personally, I believe more recent eras of baseball to be much tougher than those of the past as athletes are bigger, stronger, and smarter than they’ve ever been, and technology has made it simple for pitchers to research and exploit a hitter’s tendencies. But I don’t think there’s any realistic adjustment for that which would bridge the 25 WAR gap between Rodriguez and Aaron. So, with my methodology, Rodriguez is the fourth-greatest position player in baseball history.

Note: I realize that WAR has many methodological flaws, but it’s the best tool for comparing players across eras. I believe in using imperfect tools than no tools at all.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”