Alex Rodriguez may be feeling the effects of years of steroids use, as his physical problems last season only allowed him to play in 99 games in 2011.
His situation reminds me of the public service announcement which shows the bones of a steroids user crumbling. Rodriguez may be on the verge of not being able to play as many as 140 games again in a season.
He has missed 150 games over the last four seasons, which is almost equal to losing a whole season. He will be 37 in July and time is running out on his chance to be the all time home run leader. He hit 111 home runs in his last four seasons, after hitting 173 home runs in the previous four seasons.
Currently, his career home run total stands at 629 home runs. His next home run will tie him with Ken Griffey Jr. who has 630 home runs and he needs 32 to pass Willie Mays who has 660 home runs. Rodriguez starts the 2012 season 133 home runs behind Barry Bonds the all-time leader with 762 home runs.
His performance in 2012 should go a long way, in predicting whether he will pass Bonds in the future. One thing for sure is that he won’t catch Bonds hitting 16 home runs again like last year.
Falling Batting Average, Slugging Percentage
Rodriguez hit .270 in 2010 and .276 in 2011, which are the lowest batting averages for him since he became an everyday player. His .461 slugging percentage in 2011 was the lowest of his career, as a regular player and only the second time to have a slugging percentage under .500. In addition his .823 OPS was the lowest of his career as an everyday player.
His postseason numbers were not any better as he hit .111 during the ALDS series with the Tigers, with two hits in 23 plate appearances.
It was another bad sign that he pounded Orioles pitching for three home runs and 14 RBI, but only totaled 7 HR’s and 13 RBI against the Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays. He hit .350 against the Orioles, while hitting .184 against the Red Sox, .160 against the Rays and .211 against the Blue Jays.
Steroids or Old Age?
The question has to be raised as to whether steroids are taking a physical toll, on Rodriguez or is just experiencing the physical problems of an older player. He played in at least 140 games every season except 1999, from 1996 to 2007, yet hasn’t played more than 138 games in any of his last four seasons.
Rodriguez has earned $296,416,252 thus far in his career. His salary will drop from $32 million in 2011 to $29 million in 2012. He will see his yearly salary continue to drop till it bottoms out at $20 million during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The Yankees owe Rodriguez $143 million more before his contract expires. It will be interesting to see what happens if Rodriguez is unable to play in the next two or three years. He will have earned roughly $439 million by the time he retires, if he plays through the 2017 season. The $439 million number could be increased if Rodriguez collects the $30 million bonuses coming, if he meets home run goals on the way to passing Bonds and another $30 million for passing Bonds.
It will be interesting to see how many games Rodriguez misses during the 2012 season. The fewer games he misses, the more chance he has of passing Bonds in a few years.