There were 47 at-bats between Alex Rodriguez‘s 599th and 600th career homers, leaving A-Rod relieved to have gotten the milestone out of the way in the first inning of Wednesday’s victory against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rodriguez is the seventh – that’s right, seventh! – player to hit 600 career whammys. Hard for someone even my age to believe, considering there were only three players – Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays - in that exclusive group during my childhood.
But this is an era that’s seen the homer cheapened. Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. have all joined the 600 Club in recent years, and only Griffey is believed to have done it without steroids.
The next question becomes: Will Rodriguez break Bonds’ career homer record of 762?
I’m not convinced he will. If you twisted my arm, I’d bet against it.
A-Rod is 35 years old. He’s had a lingering hip problem that at one point had many thinking he would miss an entire season, yet he’s managed to avoid that type of a lengthy DL stint.
And while Rodriguez is still under contract with the Yankees for many more years, he’s seen a real drop in his numbers this season.
Wednesday’s bomb was just the 17th of the season for A-Rod, who is hitting just .264 with a .335 OBP and .467 slugging percentage. Is it simply an off year, or is age combined with the lack of steroid use starting to bring Rodriguez’s career down? Hard to say.
But if A-Rod really has seven years left on his contract after this one – as far as I can tell, he does – I still don’t think it’s a lock he gets to 762. He’d need to finish strong this year, plus have five more years of 30 homers per season. Considering he’s on pace for 25 in 2010, that’s a lot to ask for.
And considering it’s Rodriguez chasing Bonds rather than a pursuit that includes two more honorable players – like Aaron chasing Ruth – does anyone really care if A-Rod gets to 763?