Alex Rodriguez and the Top Power-Hitting Infielders
Alex Rodriguez entered very rarefied air on Wednesday afternoon when he smacked his 600th career home run in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.
What is singularly special about the achievement is that not only is A-Rod the seventh man to reach 600 home runs, but he is first infielder to reach the milestone.
That got us thinking about the best power hitting infielders of all-time. There are a few in the 500 Home Run Club and others who aren't, but the entire group left an impact on the game for being the rare combination of a slugging infielder.
Note: This list only includes shortstops, second baseman and third baseman.
Honorable Mention: Joe Morgan
Morgan spent 21 years in the big leagues and was one of the most productive middle infielders of his era. Morgan hit .271 for his career with 268 home runs and 1,133 RBI. He retired with 2,517 hits, 1,650 runs scored and 689 stolen bases (11th all-time).
Morgan, a 10-time All-Star, never tallied more than 167 hits in any season of his career which keeps him outside the Top 10.
Honorable Mention: Matt Williams
Williams is best remembered for having 43 home runs in early August before the MLB Player's Strike put the kibosh on his chase of Roger Maris.
Williams, predominately a third baseman, retired with a .268 average, 378 home runs, 1,218 RBI and 997 runs scored. Williams hit 30-plus home runs six times in his career. He was a 5-time All-Star and 4-time Gold Glove winner.
Honorable Mention: Brooks Robinson
Robinson is famous for the 16 Gold Glove Awards he won during his 22-year career, but the Orioles Hall of Famer also did it with the bat. He retired with a .268 career average, 268 home runs and 1,357 RBI. He recorded at least six seasons of 20-plus home runs to go with 2,848 career hits and 1,232 runs scored. He retired in 1977 with a career .723 OPS.
10. Ryne Sandberg
Sandberg was new breed of second baseman during his prime in the 1980s. A big, slugging second baseman of his physical stature was rare in the game, but Sandberg made a lasting impact.
Sandberg, who played 16 seasons with the Cubs, retired with a .285 career average, 282 home runs, 1,061 RBI, and 403 doubles.
Sandberg also tallied 2,386 hits, 1,318 runs scored and a career .795 OPS on his way to seven Silver Slugger Awards.
9. Craig Biggio
Biggio is one of the most productive second baseman in baseball history. Biggio was a career .281 hitter with 291 home runs, 1,175 RBI, 3,060 hits, 414 stolen bases and 668 doubles which ranks sixth all-time.
Biggio recorded eight 20-home run seasons (albeit aided by Minute Maid Park) and scored 1,844 runs during his career. Biggio, a 7-time All-Star, will be Hall of Fame eligible in 2012.
8. Jeff Kent
Kent may go down in history as the greatest slugging second baseman in baseball history. Kent retired with a .290 career average with 377 home runs (most all-time by a second baseman), 1,518 RBI and a .500 slugging percentage.
Kent tallied 560 doubles of his 2,461 hits to go with 1,320 runs scored. Kent recorded at least six seasons of 25 home runs (most ever by a second baseman) and eight seasons of at least 100 RBI which is also the most all-time for the position.
7. Eddie Mathews
Mathews definitely slides a bit under the radar, but he was one of the biggest power hitters in the 1950s and 1960s. Mathews recorded 512 home runs (the first third baseman to do so) and 1,453 RBI. He tallied 2,315 hits and 1,509 runs over 17 seasons. He notched six seasons of 35-plus home runs and retired with a career .885 OPS.
6. Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken revolutionized production from the shortstop position. The Orioles Hall of Famer hit .276 for his career with 431 home runs and 1,695 RBI. Ripken rang up 3,184 hits and 1,647 runs scored in his career plus 603 doubles. He is the only shortstop in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits, 1,500-plus RBI and 600-plus doubles.
5. Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones is already one of the best slugging third baseman of his era and could watch his stock improve over time. Jones is a .305 lifetime hitter with 434 home runs and 1,488 RBI. He will retire with over 2,500 hits and 1,500 runs and 500 doubles. His lifetime OPS is .940 which is only behind A-Rod for third baseman all time.
He hit at least 20 home runs in the first 14 seasons of his career and drove in 100-plus runs in eight straight seasons between 1996 and 2003.
4. Ernie Banks
"Mr. Cub" split his career between shortstop and first base but he makes the list because of his production as a shortstop. Banks recorded 296 of his 512 career home runs from the shortstop position including five 40-plus home runs seasons which was unparalleled in baseball at the time.
Banks retired with a .274 average and 1,636 RBI to with an .830 OPS. Banks recorded 2,583 hits and 1,305 runs scored. He also drove in more than 100 runs eight times in his career.
3. Mike Schmidt
Schmidt remains the leader with the most round-trippers hit by a third baseman with 548 home runs. Schmidt hit .267 for his career with 1,595 RBI, 2,234 hits and 1,506 runs scored.
Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times and had the record for most home runs hit by a third baseman in one season (48) before A-Rod broke that record in 2007 with 54. Schmidt retired in 1989 with a .908 career OPS.
2. Rogers Hornsby
Hornsby is one of the most underrated hitters of all-time. Hornsby's career spanned virtually the entire dead ball era from 1915 to 1937. In between, Hornsby hit .358 with 301 home runs with 1,584 RBI and a 1.010 OPS.
He hit over .400 three times including his 1922 season when he hit .401 with 42 home runs and 152 RBI (!). He hit .424 in 1924 which is still the best average in one season since 1900.
Hornsby led the National League in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS in six straight seasons from 1920-1925. He retired with 2,930 hits and 1,579 runs scored.
1. Alex Rodriguez
Put the asterisk on A-Rod, you won't get an argument from me. It doesn't diminish the fact that he is the greatest slugging infielder of all-time.
He sits on 600 home runs and 1,793 RBI and a .303 career batting average. A-Rod is slugging .571 for his career with a .958 OPS. He is the active leader in runs scored (1,734) and has 2,633 hits to his credit. Should he remain on this course, A-Rod projects to finish his career with over 800 home runs, 2,500 RBI, 4,000 hits and 2,000 runs scored.
Anyone coming near those cumulative numbers?