Friday, July 27, 2007

Before You Know It, A-Rod Will Be The New Standard Bearer In Home Runs

Between the time that Babe Ruth swatted three homers in one game in Pittsburgh as a Boston Brave in 1935 -- nos. 712, 713, and 714 -- and the time that Henry Aaron cracked no. 715 in 1974, almost 40 years passed. And now, as Barry Bonds lurks, some 31 years have gone by since Aaron's last home run.

The good news, for Bonds haters, is that you won't have to see Barry on the home run throne for nearly as long as that.

Nobody knows, of course, how many roundtrippers Bonds will end up with. He says he wants to play in 2008, but that might be all. So give him another 30-40 dingers, as a rough guess. That would put him close to 800 home runs.

But it will be Alex Rodriguez, the greatest home run-hitting third baseman since Mike Schmidt, who will be your next king of the four baggers. And A-Rod will do it in the next 8-10 years, tops.

It's amazing to me, but Rodriguez is basically a 500 home run guy (he has 499 right now) at age 32. Think about that for a moment. Bonds is 43. If Rodriguez chooses to play into his 40s, he's liable to knock on the door of, dare I say it, 1,000 home runs.

If continued to be blessed with good health, Alex Rodriguez will shatter anything that Barry Bonds has to offer when Bonds hangs up his spikes and puts his syringes and creams away for good.

Now, how long we'll have to wait for someone to pass Rodriguez is another story.

Rodriguez, it says here, will eventually be taking aim at 1,000 home runs

Clearly, this is a record that should have Ken Griffey, Jr.'s fingerprints on it, too. Injuries will forever cause us to wonder, "What if?" in reference to Griff. Hence the caution about Rodriguez. No one knows what will go snap, crackle, or pop at any given time in even the most conditioned athlete's body. But if Rodriguez can stay off the DL for the most part, he will hands down be the next home run champion.

Is that good or bad? Well, it's distinctly less bad than having Bonds up there, but I'm not sure about how good it is, simply because A-Rod is far from a universally-liked, respected player and person. He's not ... Griffey, Jr., for example. But he's not Bonds, and that is probably good enough for most folks.

When Aaron hit no. 715 on April 8, 1974, the thought of anyone hitting nearly 300 more than that would have been stuff of fantasy. 1,000 home runs. An insane number, back in the day. Yet Rodriguez, I am telling you, has a legitimate crack at it. He figures to end 2007 with anywhere between 515 and 520 dingers. That would put him 480 to 485 away from 1,000. He's 32. He can play, we would assume, another 10-12 years -- especially with the DH rule. Could Rodriguez swat 480 homers in 12 seasons? Better question would be, if he's healthy, why COULDN'T he?

But forget about 1,000 homers for the moment. It's not going to take anywhere near that for A-Rod to be A-1 in terms of all-time home runs. I'd say 780-790 would do it. And he's going to get there in a flash. That will be child's play for him.

Alex Rodriguez has 500 home runs at age 32. You do the math.


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