It is worth considering the benefit that steroids did to Alex Rodriguez's compilation of home runs. I take it at face value, for the sake of inquiry, that his use of steroids started in 2001 and ended in 2003.
His full-time career started in 1996. From 1996-2000 Rodriguez hit 184 home runs, averaging a little less than 37 per year. That's the number that I will use, even though in years 1998, 1999, and 2000, he was consistently at around 41. We'll use the 37 for a five-year history, in case there was some use of steroids earlier than 2001.
In his three admitted steroid seasons, Rodriguez hit 156 homers, averaging 52 per year.
Using 2004-2008 as years in which he cleaned up his act, he hit 208 home runs, averaging a little less than 42 per year.
If we put his first five and last five "clean years" together, we come up with 392 home runs hit over 10 clean years, averaging 39 per year.
Finally, we can take the difference between 52 and 39, 13 home runs per year, apply it to the three steroid-enhanced years, and discount his record by 39 home runs.
Out there is Hank Aaron at 755. When Alex Rodriguez crosses the 800 homer plateau, it becomes time to consider him the greatest home run hitter of all-time. This is all pending whatever Jose Canseco has for us in the future.
Baseball is a game of numbers and records, so it is fair to ponder the mountain of stats. I had posted a humor article, pondering how many home runs "poor" Alex Rodriguez was denied by steroid-boosted pitchers in the same era, but B/R took the article down.
Anyway, I'm using 40 dingers. Now I can enjoy the 2009 season and forget about it!