It’s not every time that you know exactly when you’ll see the last of a player. Often they are injured suddenly or retire in the off-season. We expect to know when we’ll last see David Ortiz at the plate, and it seems fairly certain now that we know when we’ll see the end of Alex Rodríguez.
By now, no doubt, you’ve heard the news that Rodríguez, a 14-time All-Star and 3-time MVP who is now suffering through a miserable 2016 (.204 AVG/.252 OBP/.356 SLG in 62 games), will be released by the Yankees following Friday’s game to become a special advisor and instructor for the club. Why the Yankees, with the rosters expanding in September, wouldn’t want their new instructor traveling with the youngsters for the remainder of the season is a mystery only the Steinbrenner’s may understand. Perhaps, at the end of the day, it’s simply retribution for the shoddy way A-Rod treated his baseball family in the wake of his PED disgrace.
A-Rod against the Sox
Rodríguez’ career includes 263 games against the Red Sox, 1,154 total plate appearances (his very most against any club) and a slash line of .285 AVG/.378 OBP/.516 SLG. Against Boston he has a career 46 doubles, 3 triples (all at Fenway), 59 home runs, 169 RBI, 133 walks, and 222 strikeouts.
Since his debut in 1994, no major leaguer has more home runs or RBIs against the Red Sox than A-Rod. Moreover, no MLB player in that timeframe has more of either of those (22 home runs and 66 RBIs) coming with two outs.
For his career at Fenway Park, Rodríguez has appeared in 131 games with 576 plate appearances and a slash line of .287 AVG/.366 OBP/.514 SLG with a career 22 doubles, 29 home runs, 88 RBI, 55 walks, and 113 strikeouts. His total at-bats, hits, and runs scored at Fenway are his most at any non-home ballpark.
Among all Yankees vs the Red Sox since 1913, A-Rod ranks 5th in stolen bases (48, needs seven to tie Derek Jeter at No. 4), 6th in home runs (59, needs two to tie Harmon Killebrew at No. 5), and 8th in runs scored (195, needs 16 to tie Mickey Mantle at No. 7).
Down on strikes
Rodríguez’ very first major league series was at Fenway Park on July 8–10, 1994. He went 2-for–11 with four strikeouts. Since that time, no MLB player has been a greater victim of Red Sox strikeouts (222), including 76 inning-ending strikeouts, which is also the most in that time.
In fact, A-Rod is just a strikeout away from tying Reggie Jackson for the second most Red Sox strikeouts of any player, on any team, since 1913. With eight more he’ll have 230 to tie Mantle at No. 1 on that ignominious list.
What might have been
I remember well his courtship with Boston back in 2003 when the new Sox ownership thought Rodríguez just the ticket to the World Series. The photogenic young ball player arranging a tour at Harvard as Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy christened him “a class act…comfortable with his star status, mingles easily with fans and media, and is eager to learn,” while Rodríguez declared himself willing to take less salary for the chance to play for a contender. Joon Lee recounts the negotiation meeting between A-Rod and former Sox GM Theo Epstein. “It was hard to relate [to Rodriguez],” Epstein said. “I’m the same age as this guy and he’s like another species. This guy’s got it all together.”
Why a player with such natural gifts would taint himself is hard to comprehend.
When the Players Union objected to any deal that included a reduced salary and Rodríguez slipped from the Red Sox grasp, it seemed a very bad thing.
At Sports Illustrated, Jay Jaffe considers what might have been had Epstein pulled off the complicated deal that, in part, would have sent Manny Ramirez and very young Jon Lester, along with cash, to the Rangers in return for Rodríguez. The deal that never happened is also chronicled in ESPN’s 30-for–30 series.
First and last time at Fenway
Rodríguez is undoubtedly a smart guy. He’s likely also a reflective one.
As he walks into Fenway this week he will, no doubt, recall his very first major league at-bat on that day back in 1994, just days before his 19th birthday. It was here, with the Mariners, that it all started for A-Rod. And it’s here, nearly 2,800 games and 22 years later, that it all draws to a close.