While on the subject of giant numbers, let's discuss the number 763.
Of course, MLB fans identify that number as what it takes to overcome reigning home run champion Barry Bonds, who sits at a career mark of 762 long balls. A large majority of those are believed to be hit with the aid of performance enhancing drugs.
In the eighth inning of the Yankees vs.Seattle Mariners game on July 24th (strangely enough, Barry Bonds birthday) Alex Rodriguez was struck with a pitch thrown by Felix Hernandez, breaking his hand and putting him on the bench for six to eight weeks.
From the stand point of competing this season, New York should be just fine. Regardless of if the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays make a surge, I believe that the best either could do is a wild card berth. The AL East will belong to the New York Yankees regardless of if A-Rod is in the lineup or not.
Rodriguez should be back toward the end of the season, giving him enough time to hit about six more home runs in 2012 and put him at a grand total of 650 for his career. 113 home runs away from passing Bonds and becoming the all-time leader.
Will A-Rod claim the record? In my opinion, no.
Rodriguez is signed through 2017, giving him five more seasons in the MLB after the completion of 2012 and making him 42 years old at the end of his deal.
If we use the 650 home run total I suggested above going into 2013, Rodriguez could hit 20 home runs the next five years and still be five short of tying Hank Aaron, 13 short of passing Bonds.
Personally, I believe A-Rod has, at maximum, two 20-home run seasons left in the tank.
At 37, his bat speed is beginning to slow as he watches his strike outs begin to rise and his batting average begin to fall. This is no longer the Alex Rodriguez who sent fear down the spines of opposing pitchers. This is the Alex Rodriguez who, while still a threat, is viewed by pitchers as a guy who most believe they are capable of getting out.
So, fast forward through 2013 and 2014 where A-Rod will go from being the team's third baseman to settling into his role as DH, It is safe to assume he will have about 690-700 home runs.
Now in 2015, Rodriguez enters a season in which the story line will mainly be "can he catch Babe Ruth?"
In September, at age 40, A-Rod hits number 715 to pass Ruth and move into third on the all time list.
This is where the climb ends in my opinion. in 2016 and 2017, age will catch up to the now former slugger even more.
Analysts more than ever will zone in on the possibility that Alex Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs during his career. As he chases the record, the pressure of catching Aaron and Bonds as well as the constant steroid discussion will take a toll on his mind.
If Alex Rodriguez did use steroids for much of his career, the alleged PED use could take a toll on his body as he is unable to recover as quickly in past years. Power numbers continue to decline as age now plays a huge factor as well, and he often struggles to make games even as a DH.
In his final two years as a Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, now a shell of his former self, only clubs another 15-20 home runs, giving him an all-time total of 735.
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