The Centaurion

It's no secret that this has been something of a down season for Alex Rodriguez. At 35 years old, he's showing his age, and one year removed from his near-miraculous comeback from hip surgery, he's in danger of setting career-worst marks in home runs (22), batting average (.267), on-base percentage (.335), and slugging percentage (.491).

Nonetheless, in his second day back in the lineup after a DL stint due to a calf injury, Rodriguez did reach a milestone: his two-run home run off Brian Matusz on Monday gave him an even 100 RBI for the season. In doing so, he reached the century mark for the 14th time in his career, breaking a tie with some of the heaviest hitters in history:

Alex Rodriguez connects for the homer that gives him 100 RBI for the record 14th time in his career (AP).

Rk                   Yrs From  To   Age
1 Alex Rodriguez 14 1996 2010 20-34
2T Jimmie Foxx 13 1929 1941 21-33
Lou Gehrig 13 1926 1938 23-35
Babe Ruth 13 1919 1933 24-38
5T Manny Ramirez 12 1995 2008 23-36
Barry Bonds 12 1990 2004 25-39
Al Simmons 12 1924 1936 22-34
8T Frank Thomas 11 1991 2006 23-38
Hank Aaron 11 1955 1971 21-37
Goose Goslin 11 1924 1936 23-35

Admittedly, RBI milestones aren't all they're cracked up to be; they're overly dependent upon the frequency with which a player's neighbors in the lineup get on base, and even hitters who gobble up outs by the ton can collect scores of them. For evidence of this, look no further than one of the men tied for 11th on the list, Joe Carter. The journeyman slugger, best remembered for hitting a World Series-winning homer for the Blue Jays in 1993, drove in at least 100 runs 10 times while compiling a career OBP of .306. Three times, he finished with an atrocious sub-.300 OBP while reaching the 100-RBI plateau. With clutch hitters like that, you don't need enemies.

For all the hand-wringing about A-Rod's subpar 2010 showing—not to mention those nasty rumors about him having been caught clubbing baby harp seals, thus causing a worldwide recession—it's worth noting that he is leading the league in something positive: he's tops in the Junior Circuit in Baseball Prospectus' OBI% (Others Batted In Percentage), meaning that he's driven in the highest percentage of baserunners of anyone in the AL, at 21.3 percent. Note that OBI% excludes a player driving in himself via his own home runs. A quick look at the major league leaderboard:

Rk   NAME              TEAM    PA   PA_ROB   ROB   OBI    OBI%
1 Carlos Gonzalez COL 542 225 305 66 21.6%
2 Alex Rodriguez NYA 492 247 366 78 21.3%
3 Delmon Young MIN 517 268 389 77 19.8%
4 Jose Bautista TOR 578 229 307 60 19.5%
5 John Buck TOR 359 150 207 40 19.3%
6 Josh Hamilton TEX 559 251 342 66 19.3%
7 Joey Votto CIN 558 265 344 66 19.2%
8 Paul Konerko CHA 551 259 339 65 19.2%
9 Ryan Ludwick SLN 314 131 167 32 19.2%
10 Nelson Cruz TEX 348 180 262 50 19.1%
11 Vladimir Guerrero TEX 547 291 394 75 19.0%
12 David Wright NYN 578 267 359 68 18.9%
13 Adam Laroche ARI 527 244 354 67 18.9%
14 Carlos Quentin CHA 471 221 309 58 18.8%
15 Buster Posey SFN 347 169 236 44 18.6%
16 Neil Walker PIT 360 168 221 41 18.6%
17 Angel Pagan NYN 535 205 272 50 18.4%
18 Rafael Furcal LAN 357 123 169 31 18.3%
19 Carlos Lee HOU 546 259 341 62 18.2%
20 Magglio Ordonez DET 365 195 259 47 18.1%

PA is plate appearances, PA_ROB is those with runners on base, ROB is the actual runners on base, OBI the number of those runners driven in, and OBI% the percentage of OBI divided by ROB.

A-Rod's 21.3 percent is actually a pretty impressive rate. By comparison, the next highest rates on this year's Yankees, the majors' top-scoring team, are owned by Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, who've all driven in between 16.3 and 16.8 percent of baserunners. It's also the highest mark of Rodriguez's career by far; his second-best mark came when he drove in 20.4 percent in 2000 with the Mariners, and he was right at 20.0 percent with them in 1996. He's been above 17 percent just one other time while wearing pinstripes, with a 19.2 OBI% during his MVP-winning 2007 campaign. Last year, when he packed his 100 RBI into just 535 plate appearances, he was at just 16.6 percent, his third-highest mark with the Yankees.

So at least Rodriguez can't be accused of being particularly un-clutch this year, thus spoiling many a hack columnist's counterfactual narrative. He's actually hitting significantly better with runners on base (.294/.360/.550) than with the bases empty (.242/.310/.435). So as Carl Spackler said of the Dalai Lama granting him total consciousness on his deathbed in lieu of a tip for caddying, he's got that going for him.

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