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Alex Rodriguez Will Rank Behind Mike Schmidt Among Hall of Fame 3rd Basemen

Harold FriendChief Writer IMarch 14, 2012

DUNEDIN, FL - AUGUST 12:  Designated hitter Alex Rodriguez of the Tampa Yankees doubles in the third inning against the Dunedin Blue Jays  August 12, 2011 at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida. Rodriguez played during a rehabilitation assignment. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

There are only 10 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Mike Schmidt is considered the greatest, but after him, opinions vary.

When Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees in 2004, he became their everyday third baseman. In his eight seasons at third base, A-Rod has batted .295/.391/.550, averaging 41 home runs and 131 RBI over a 162-game season, despite appearing in only 99 games in 2011.

In 2005 and 2007, Rodriguez won the MVP Award. He hit 54 home runs and drove in 156 runs during the latter season, numbers no third basemen ever matched.

George Brett was the MVP once. He was not a home run hitter and batted .390 in 1980, but his lifetime .305 BA is a mere 10 points better than A-Rod's average as a third baseman. Brett's on base percentage is .369 while Rodriguez's is .386. 

Wade Boggs was a great hitter and he made himself into a better than average defensive player. Boggs' .328 average "destroys" A-Rod's .295 and his on base average is a Mickey Mantle-like .415, but his slugging percentage isn't as impressive at .443.

Boggs wasn't a fast runner, didn't steal bases, was basically a leadoff hitter (and a great one) and rarely hit as many as 10 home runs in a season because that wasn't his job.

Eddie Mathews hit 512 home runs and, besides Schmidt and Rodriguez, is the only Hall of Fame third baseman that slugged over .500. The problem is that Mathews tailed off precipitously the latter part of his career.

Brooks Robinson couldn't hit with any of the above, but none of the above, including Schmidt, could field like Robinson. The Baltimore Orioles' great batted .267. So did Mike Schmidt, but Robinson hit 268 home runs while Schmidt hit 548.

When I first started learning about baseball, no one doubted that Pie Traynor was the best third baseman of all time, but that was long ago.

Rodriguez has hit 284 home runs as a Yankee and has 629 in his career. He is 36 years old and his contract is good until he reaches 41. 

Recognizing that most players not referred to as " Baroid" don't produce their greatest seasons in their late 30s, let's assume that A-Rod averages 25 home runs and 80 RBI for the next four seasons.

He would have almost 400 home runs and over 1,200 RBI as third baseman.

Schmidt would still have be considered the greatest third baseman, but A-Rod would certainly challenge the others, especially if he breaks Hank Aaron's (sic ) career home run mark.

A-Rod ranks higher than any third baseman. It's too bad he didn't remain at shortstop (think about that).

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