600 Home Runs Just The Appetizer For A-Rod Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Considering that fewer than five percent of all major league players who have played over the past 135 seasons hit more than 100 home runs, and just 25 MLB superstars knocked out 500+ career long balls, those who’ve made it into the 600 Home Run Club definitely gorged themselves at home plate. But it appears that for Alex Rodriguez, who on August 4th became only the seventh man to reach this incredible tally and who just keeps eating up opposing pitchers, 600 home runs is only the appetizer to his ultimate main course – the all-time home run title.

While A-Rod, who got there faster than any other player in MLB history, and current has 604 homers, says he is pleased to be sitting at the big boy’s table with the likes of Sammy Sosa (who’s next up on the hit parade with 609), Ken Griffey (630), Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762), there’s little doubt that if he can stay healthy he has a very good chance of assuming the top spot.

Before the Yankees placed him on the 15-day precautionary disabled list with a strained calf muscle on August 21st, Rodriguez felt like he was in a fine hitting groove. "I felt pretty good about the passes and the swings and staying in the strike zone," Rodriguez said. "I talked to [hitting coach] Kevin [Long] and he felt the same way so that was good. Overall my approach is good, and I'm thinking small and I'm thinking right.    

Despite A-Rod’s solid fundamentals, his home run rate has slowed in each of the last three seasons.  In 2007, he ripped 54 homers while playing 158 games, a homer for every 2.93 games played. In 2008, he hit 35 homers in 138 games (one every 3.94 games). Last year, after missing time due to hip surgery, he hit 30 homers in 124 games (one every 4.13 games).  

After hitting No. 599, it took Alex 46 at-bats over a 12-day period to collect his 600th home run, the longest such span of anyone in the 600 HRC.  Willie Mays, the previous highest needed 21 at-bats in 1969.  The homers came easier for A-Rod after the landmark blast, as he hit four more over the next two weeks.  Prior to going on the DL, he had 21 homers in 112 games (one every 5.33 games).

His decline hasn't been steady and health is the primary variable, so it's impossible to say exactly how many more games Rodriguez will need to hit 763, which is precisely the career total predicted by Career Assessments, an online tool that factors the final career total of MLB players.  Of course this assumes that his health and productivity will remain intact – always a big if in professional sports.  If A-Rod continues his fitness routine and solid skills at the plate, he would be on a pace to reach 763 during the 2017 season at the tender age of 42.  

“I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t,” the Yankees’ hitting coach, Kevin Long, said of Rodriguez recently. He added: “It’s a challenge for him. He loves challenges, and I think it’s certainly something that’s in his grasp and something he’d love to do.”

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