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Will injuries keep Alex Rodriguez from breaking Barry Bonds’ home run record?

Jul 25, 2012, 2:14 PM EDT

alex rodriguez and barry bonds Getty Images

Not so long ago Alex Rodriguez seemed very likely to finish his career as the all-time home run king.

He won the MVP in 2007 with a monster season, hitting .314 with 54 homers, 156 RBIs, and a 1.067 OPS. At that point he was 31 years old with 518 career homers, had hit at least 35 homers every season for a decade, and had played at least 150 games in seven straight years.

And then he started to get hurt. Rodriguez smacked 35 homers in 2008, but missed 24 games with injuries. And then he missed 38 games in 2009, 25 games in 2010, and 63 games last season. And now Rodriguez is expected to be sidelined until September with a broken hand courtesy of a Felix Hernandez pitch last night.

In addition to missing 150 games from 2008-2011 and what will probably be another 40 or so games this year Rodriguez has also seen his power numbers decline significantly in his mid-30s. Through that MVP-winning 2007 season he averaged 45 homers per 162 games, but from 2008-2010 he averaged 39 homers per 162 games and during the past two seasons he’s averaged 27 homers per 162 games.

Rodriguez has 644 career homers, which is the most in baseball history through age 36–by 33 over Babe Ruth, 52 over Hank Aaron, and 77 over Barry Bonds. However, between his injuries and rapidly declining power Rodriguez is far from a sure thing to hit the 119 homers needed to surpass Bonds as the all-time leader.

Barry Bonds       762
Hank Aaron        755
Babe Ruth         714
Willie Mays       660
Alex Rodriguez    644

He’s signed through 2017 and the Yankees still owe him $114 million, so Rodriguez has plenty of motivation to stick around into his 40s, but he’d have to hit 20-25 homers per season for the final five years of that contract to become the all-time leader. Rodriguez is certainly still capable of that, but he’s also hit a total of just 29 homers with a modest .455 slugging percentage in 192 games during the past two seasons.

If he’s going to break the home run record it’s going to be by a much narrower margin than once seemed likely, which means every broken bone, minor surgery, and strained muscle takes a big chunk out of his chances.

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  1. vette7274 - Jul 25, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Who cares,,,, he’s a doper anyway. Maybe he can join the Tour de France next time.

    • myopinionisgarbage - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:33 PM

      I really hope that Mike Trout ends up being the greatest player that ever played baseball. He will be the end of a two decade dance around ethics and morals in the game. I’m so sick of the blurred line between greatness and all-time record holders. I enjoyed watching A-rod because he was just so much better than everyone else in his prime. I enjoyed watching Barry Bonds because he was so much better than everyone else in his prime. But they cheated. They know it too. Anyone who has played competitive baseball beyond H.S. knows it goes on and it’s wrong. It does help. A lot. I don’t care what anyone says. Adding 20 lbs of muscle makes your misses hits and your lazy fly balls homerun trots. It should also be legal, to some extent. What’s the reason to not administer steroids and hormones that are genuinely beneficial to the health of a person over the course of their life? I’m not saying give them d-ball and jack them up 20 lbs, but there has to be a reasonable limit to just completely disregarding modern medicine as a beneficial means to success and long-term quality of life.

      • Craptastics9 - Jul 31, 2012 at 11:14 AM

        It seems we have a post from a graduate of U Idiot U. Why don’t we allow the batter to carry his bat around the bases and hit anyone he pleases? How about every player taking a quick snort of cocaine before the game to heighten their senses? Or during the seventh inning stretch each team retires to the clubhouse to blood dope so they don’t fatigue?

        Cheating happens in all sports, and it’s wrong in every instance in all sports. I don’t want to play homer, but how many Super Bowls have the Patriots won since they got called out on filming the walk-throughs?

        You do realize that Mark McGwire was ready to quit baseball after his 1991 flop season (.201, 22 Hr), but something gave him the gusto to keep carrying on…

  2. jcarne9014 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    I am a huge A-Rod fan….have been forever. But there is absolutely no chance that he will get anywhere near 763. No way. He will be lucky to reach 700.

  3. hcf95688 - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    Henry Aaron is the All Time Home Run King.

    • ldawg2112 - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:03 AM

      Newflash, Hank cheated too. Dont be naive.

  4. trybe29dr - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Florida727 hit it right on the head. If hes close NY signs him to a 1 year deal to chase the HR record. He should be rather close unless he goes into a griffey jr like injury tailspin

  5. trybe29dr - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Id also like to add power is the last thing to go. Look an big macs last year…BA under.200 but 30 bombs…if he hits just 3 hr after his return hell be 115 short with 5 season left on his current contract…if he averages 20HR a year he’ll be at 747…15 short at the age of 42…theyll sign him for 2018 guaranteed

  6. ebrownwareagle - Jul 25, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Detroit Mike! My Mann.

  7. 454ss - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    YES! YES! YES!

  8. ebrownwareagle - Jul 25, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Even Before steroids Bonds was better than everybody else.

  9. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 25, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    So A-roid might not be able to out-roid the Roidmaster General? I’m fine with that.

  10. jolink653 - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    In my mind Hank Aaron is still the home run king and Maris still holds the single season home run record…Bonds is one of the biggest cheaters in the history of sports and doesn’t deserve to have his name up there with all these other great players and as a Yankees fan I can say I wouldn’t be upset if A-Rod doesn’t beat out Aaron’s record because he took steroids…Sad too because he was such a great player and didn’t need steroids, but still took them anyway

  11. fuddpucker - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    Really, who roots for A-roid anyway? He’s not the same player he was before and he’s totally unlikeable.

    Also, he’s kind of a gayish pu$$y freako, I can’t quite explain it but yeah, he’s a weirdo.

    • ugglasforearms - Jul 26, 2012 at 7:26 AM

      “…he’s kind of a gayish pu$$y freako, I can’t quite explain it…”
      You can’t explain why you think A-Rod is these things? Does that mean
      you’re personal biases are clouding your opinions?

  12. maximus929 - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    No way will he lead the league in HR’s again. It’s not injuries stopping him, it’s lack of drugs – steroids.

    He is a steroid induced creation – always was.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 26, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      So 2007 never happened? Or is it conveniently forgotten since it ruins your narrative? Or are you honestly suggesting that a soon to be 37 year old won’t ever lead the league in HRs, in which case I’d assume your next brilliant prediction will be that water is wet, right?

    • ldawg2112 - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:07 AM

      Why do you even assume hes not on something now? That’s being pretty naive. There is no test for HGH. He could be packed to the gills with HGH and there’s no real way youd ever know nor is there any deterrent for him to do so. Id be willing to bet that a large % of players are taking HGH. Testing for steroids once doesnt mean you stop using them, you just get smarter about hiding your usage. There are a million ways to beat a test. Maybe he just sucks because he sucks and not because he decided all of a sudden to stop doping, no?

  13. maximus929 - Jul 25, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Oh yeah. and when he was playing the Orioles earlier this year, I saw him yell at a 3rd baseman who was fielding a popup for the 3rd out. He’s still doing those childish, classless things he’s been criticized so harshly for in the past.

    Can’t believe he’s still doing it.

  14. botkins24 - Jul 26, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    Hmm I read the article and only saw these guys.

    Hank Aaron 755
    Babe Ruth 714
    Willie Mays 660
    Ken Griffey Jr. 630

  15. nyyankeedave - Jul 26, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Geez…everyone get off the soapbox! Steroids happened and baseball along with us the fans let it happen – and NOBODY CARED when it was happening! This is the same sport that holds a flaming racist (Ty Cobb) in uber regard – this is the same sport that institutionalized segregation keeping some of the greatest players to ever play out of the game! Its kind of all a joke now anyway – if the HOF is gonna keep the all time hits leader (Rose), home run hitter (Bonds) and arguably the greatest pitcher (Clemons) out then it isn’t much of a hall of fame – its just a joke. Which is what it will be until those dudes are in it. Sorry. The steroid era happened – accept it. You can’t go back and change it, so deal with it – if you’re gonna go after the players then remember to blame Selig and the rest of baseball too for letting this crap get out of hand in the first place! To think anyone can just erase 20 years away because it “hurts your feelings” is a moron – baseball is a game of eras and the steroid era happened and it has passed so everybody PLEASE STOP CRYING ABOUT IT ALREADY!! go Yankees

  16. materialman80 - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Bonds doesn’t have the record and neither would Stray-Rod. When your a doper, your “records” don’t mean a dam thing.

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