As Alex Rodriguez rounded the bases for the 600th time in the major leagues, he joined Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds as the only players to reach that plateau.
At the age of 35, media members quickly touted A-Rod for being the youngest player in history to break 600. Most people began to speculate when, not if, he will break Barry Bonds' record of 762 round trippers.
However, the numbers tell a slightly different story. At age 35, A-Rod has connected on 600 home runs in 8,691 career ABs, or one home run every 14.48 trips to the plate.
Over the last three years, his numbers have dipped to one home run every 16.35 at bats. This season, A-Rod's numbers have plunged even further, to one home run every 22.76 plate appearances. If A-Rod continues at the 22.76 at bats per home run clip, he won't be approaching Barry Bonds' home run record until after he turns 41.
While it's not likely he will continue hitting one home run every 23 ABs, it is safe to assume that his career rate of 1/14.48 was inflated by his alleged systematic use of HGH, steroids, and other performance enhancers during his peak years. Let's examine how the other members of the 600 club, not linked to the use of performance enhancing drugs, fared after they turned 35.
Babe Ruth finished his 22-year career with 714 home runs, including 198 after the age of 35 (28 percent of total HRs). He averaged one home run every 11.76 plate appearances for his career, falling slightly to 12.14 after his 35th birthday.
Willie Mays slugged 660 HRs during his career, 163 of which came after he turned 35 (25 percent of total HRs). He hit one home run every 16.48 ABs during his 22-year career, dipping sharply to 21.66 after 35.
Hank Aaron sent 755 baseballs out of the ballpark during his 23-year career, including 245 after his 35th (32 percent of total HRs). Aaron averaged one home run every 16.37 ABs for his career, remarkably rising to 14.18 after he turned 35.
Ken Griffey Jr. touched them all 630 times during his 21-year career, 147 of which came after his 35th birthday (23 percent of total HRs). Griffey averaged one home run every 15.55 ABs for his career, sliding to 19.80 after his 35th.
It is by no means a certainty that A-Rod will eclipse Barry Bonds' mark of 762. A-Rod's numbers have sharply dipped this season and nobody knows why. Is it because of the lack of performance enhancers, 35 years of age starting to set in, or perhaps just a down year?
Regardless of the reasons, if he continues to homer once every 23 plate appearances, he could very easily fall short of Bonds' record.
Until then, we will just watch and wait.
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