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Will A-Rod break Barry Bonds' record?

Aug 4, 2010, 3:14 PM EDT

A-Rod has 600 homers. Does he have 163 more left in the tank?

Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th homer today. That’s well and good, but if the poll results are any indication you all don’t really care. But you will probably care more if and when he breaks 700 and starts knocking on the door of messers. Ruth, Aaron and Bonds.  Will it happen? Let’s break down some rough numbers:

  • A-Rod has 600 homers;
  • The record is 762;
  • A-Rod is under contract through 2017;
  • If he stays on his current pace for the rest of the reason, he’d finish with around 26 or 27 homers for 2010, putting him 152 or 153 homers shy of a new home run record.

Thus, Rodriguez would only have to average around 21-22 homers a year between now and the end of his deal to break the record. I find that eminently doable.

From 1996 — when he became a full time player — though 2009 he averaged 41.7 home runs per season. Those days are likely over now, but even if you assume that his production for 2008-2010 is the “new normal” for the guy, that puts him at around 30 homers a year, which puts him safely ahead of a record breaking pace. And that’s assuming he doesn’t pull out some late career mini-resurgence which gives him a random season of 40 here or there, which I could easily see happening.

Of course there’s nothing certain in this world.  Health being the biggest uncertainty. If A-Rod suffered a catastrophic injury all bets are off, but that’s the case for anyone chasing a record.  Just ask Ken Griffey Jr. what one’s late 30s are all about.

But A-Rod also, perversely enough, has his contract on his side. Being signed to that deal will give him more chances to come to the plate as he approaches the end of his career simply because there’s way less of a chance that teams will just turn their back on him like they did on Barry Bonds the year after he broke Aaron’s record.  Whether it’s the Yankees or some other team, the chances are very, very high that he’ll be on someone’s roster for the next seven years.

Sure, if A-Rod’s skills have eroded to a certain degree the Yankees — who will presumably remain competitive — may consider him a sunk cost and cut bait on him, but if that happens he becomes a very affordable gate attraction for the Orioles or the Athletics or any other team who needs a DH and some excitement. With the Yankees paying him $25 million regardless, Rodriguez would probably have no trouble signing with any other team for the veteran minimum, and if he gets his at bats, he should get his 21-22 home runs.

There are no guarantees in this world, but I’d feel pretty safe in betting that A-Rod will break Barry Bonds’ record one day.

  1. Ditto65 - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Yes.

  2. RichardInBigD - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    There was a typo in your title question. It should be “Does he have 162 left in his syringe?”.

  3. Largebill - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Two years ago I was certain he’d pass Bonds by more than a few dozen homers. The slow down has me less confident. Hard to pin point the change, but it seems he has modified his stance/swing since the the hip surgery. About a third of this season remains. So, reaching 30 again is not out of the question. His next couple seasons need to stay at the 30+ level to give him the cushion to get to 763 despite the inevitable decline phase. Middle infielders tend to have steeper declines and while he is a 3B now he still played more SS. Plus 3B isn’t a position known for long careers either. Reason 3B is least represented position in Cooperstown is likely to to the wear and tear equaling shorter careers or earlier declines.

  4. YANKEES1996 - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Congrats, A-Rod on your 600th homerun, march on!

  5. Simon DelMonte - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    As usual, Neyer has a lot to say about this.
    My guess? He makes it. There is unending debate over the matter. Yawn.

  6. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Are people seriously not over the steroid stuff yet?

  7. BC - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    He’ll make it, but its going to be close. One major injury could mess the whole thing up.

  8. JCD - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    No way, Bonds was only able to keep hitting those bombs that late in life because of roids. If Arod stays clean no way he breaks that record.

  9. Largebill - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    I went and wasted half an hour playing with a calculator and using Bill James’ career projection Favorite Toy. Doesn’t look great. If he finishes with 25 or less his projection will be very pessimistic. If he gets to 35 this year it is closer to doable. Problem with James’ Toy is it multiplies his established level by his expected years remaining of four years (42 minus age 34 divided by 2). He is not likely to walk away mid contract.

  10. Philip P - Aug 4, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    A-Rod should be able to DH enough to let him stick at third for several more years and as long as his hip holds up, he is a safe bet to get the necessary home runs to pass Bonds. While I am not a fan and would prefer someone to hold the record without the stain, real or percieved, of steroids, I will find A-Rod more acceptable than Bonds. Not sure why, but Bonds and Clemens, of all those tained by steroids, rub me the wrong way. Not pleased with the Manny’s, Big Papi or others, but Bonds and Clemens are in their own class. For all of his faults, A-Rod has been a great player at least when it comes to stats he should be good enough to earn the big stat of homerun #763 and then we can hopefully cheer on someone like Pujols to eventually surpass A-Rod.

  11. TominNH - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Bonds doesnt have a record. Henry Aaron does!

  12. runningamuck - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Moot point…they are both cheaters !

  13. runningamuck - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Moot point…they are both cheaters !

  14. Sweepthleg - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    Craig as a Braves fan you know the record is still 755 any other number is just ridiculous! And that other guy who thinks he broke the record is the embodyment of the win at all cost, selfish, steroid era. He will slowly fade from Baseball and the nations collective conscience.
    Hammer’n Hank the real Home Run King!

  15. Jonny5 - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I think he’ll fall off his game before then, and the Yankees won’t keep him in their lineup once that happens. Then it’l be all downhill from that point for him. I say, he’ll never top Bonds, even though it looks as if he can at this point. Injury or not.

  16. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    OK, but Rodriguez is the youngest to hit 600 by a year plus, and (so far as we know) everybody ahead of Rodriguez other than Sosa and Bonds was “clean,” so even without juice, I think he’s got a fair shot. It would help his chances greatly if he has one more big power season of around 40, though.

  17. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Multiple points to make here:
    1. In a sport like baseball, I don’t think being selfish is really a bad thing. It’s not basketball, where being selfish can torpedo a team. It’s not football, the ultimate team first game. It’s baseball, the most individual driven team sport out there. Yeah, being selfish might not be an admirable trait, but it doesn’t hurt the team in most cases.
    2. We don’t know definitively when Rodriguez started/stopped using steroids. For all we know he could have started when he was a rookie. For all we know he might only have used during his Texas years. For all we know he is still using. So where do you draw the line and start saying X home runs don’t count?
    3. Until there is some way to figure out just how many of the home runs were the result of steroids, you can’t really discount them. There hasn’t been a definitive study (that I know of) that tells you how much steroids even help ballplayers.
    4. Likewise, we don’t know how much of an effect steroids have on pitchers. For every home run that Rodriguez or Bonds or whomever hit when on the juice, how many bombs were NOT hit because a pitcher who was also juicing was throwing 95 instead of 92 and was able to get it past the bat when normally they wouldn’t have? There are just too many variables in here.
    And all of that’s not even getting into the fact that every era has had its advantages and disadvantages. I’m not defending Rodriguez, really, I’m just saying that there is so much that you have to consider before you can make a statement like “Rodriguez and Bonds will never really be home run champions, they cheated.” It’s far more nuanced than that.

  18. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    He might fall off his game, but it’ll take a lot for the Yankees to keep him out of the lineup. He’s making a ton of money, they’ll play him until he’s completely dead and shows no signs of life.

  19. Largebill - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    To the delusional folks claiming Henry Aaron is still the home run champ: get some help. The games were played and the stats were accumulated. Whether you approve of the “vitamins” used by Bonds, A-Rod etc doesn’t matter. They played in regular season major league baseball games and what happened happened. You do NOT have to cheer for player you perceive to have cheated, but you can’t declare the event didn’t happen. Gaylord Perry could admit tomorrow that he threw the spit ball in every game he pitched and he would still have the same number of strike outs and wins and losses. Or maybe this will make it easier for you to understand. Say I go to a bar tonight and tell a hottie that I just won the mega lottery. I take her home and have a good time then the next day she realizes I didn’t really win the lottery. Well, she could tell herself she didn’t go home with me, but what’s done is done.

  20. Jonny5 - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    And that ton they’ll EAT if he doesn’t maintain a good avg. or OBP . The Yankees can afford to, so they will.

  21. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    I’m sure if push comes to shove, they will eat the money, but it’s going to take a lot for push to come to shove.

  22. Md23Rewls - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    Bingo. What’s done is done. The last twenty years aren’t going to be erased from the record books. We’ll never know what Rodriguez’s numbers, or Bonds’ numbers for that matter, would look like without steroids. We’ll never know. Just like we’ll never know if the 2004 Red Sox would have won the World Series with a clean Manny/Ortiz. I’m a Yankee fan, and I’d love more than anything to say that the 2004 ALCS doesn’t count because multiple players on the team were on roids, but that’d be silly of me. Of course it counts. It sucks, but it counts.
    Side note: Nobody complains about it because it’s not against the rules, but cortisone is a steroid, and it is used regularly throughout baseball. You don’t see anybody saying that Schilling’s bloody sock start should be discounted because he took cortisone shots. There’s such a fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s acceptable to build muscle mass through a rigid set of legal drugs that were not taken in Hank Aaron’s day, but nobody holds that against players. Should we? Such a fine line.

  23. Kevin S. - Aug 4, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Because Aaron’s illegal drug of choice is totally acceptable, right?

  24. RichardInBigD - Aug 4, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    No, because the steroids may be gone, but the records the abusers set will remain forever. Do you think there’s any chance the White Sox will ever win the 1919 WS?

  25. JackOfAllTirades - Aug 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    How can anyone be “over it” ?! His home run stats are tainted. His steroid use doesn’t go away with time. It’s there in his stats…. forever.

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