clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What should we take away from A-Rod's most recent milestone?

A-Rod is now the all-time leading RBI man among American League players. So, what exactly is to make of this?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Say this following sentence out loud: no player in the history of the American League has more career runs batted in than Alex Rodriguez. Yes, we all know the aging (not that you could really tell by his performance so far this year) slugger has a checkered past. But think about all the players that have EVER played in the American League since the RBI stat became official in 1920. Zero have put more tallies on the board than A-Rod.

With his three-run home run Wednesday afternoon against the Royals, Rodriguez passed Lou Gehrig for third place on MLB's all-time RBI list, behind Hank Aaron and, ahem, Barry Bonds. It makes much sense this astonishing feat happened in a season where so many have come to a realization that A-Rod is one of the sport's best ever, Biogenesis or no Biogenesis.

The soon-to-be-40 Rodriguez is well on pace to have his best campaign since 2010, the last year he was truly one of the league's best players. The next four seasons saw Rodriguez's body and reputation completely collapse, to a point where many wondered if the Yankees would wind up flat-out releasing him. As has been well-discussed throughout the baseball universe through the end of May, this 2015 season has, even if slightly, help rebuild A-Rod's image, aided mostly by his performance.

Few statistics throughout the history of baseball have been looked to more as a true indicator of a player's value than the RBI. Now, even if sabermetrics have sullied the importance of the stat, all one needs to do is look at the all-time list for inspiration. It is truly a compilation of a set of player's that are considered the best ever. Rodriguez is now higher than all but two, and something certainly can be said for that.

Soon, perhaps even tonight, Rodriguez will jump Bonds for second on this list (he currently sits one behind at 1, 995). More than half of those have come with A-Rod in a Yankee uniform. There have been MVP seasons, championships seasons (okay, season), and more than one game that has wound up on Yankees Classic. However, this season has been perhaps the most intriguing out of all of Rodriguez's in pinstripes. He's hitting, he's been as large a part of this team as any player has, and seemingly every hit he has helps him jump some Hall of Famer on some list.

Throughout his career, Rodriguez has averaged more RBI per season than Aaron (124 vs 113), who soon will be the only person with more total runs driven in than does number 13. This is not to say that Rodriguez is "better" than Aaron, but simply to illustrate that Rodriguez's statistical prowess is comparable to any legend from any era.

His shortcoming and unfortunate PR mishaps are countless, surely. A strong case is made by many that his story is forever tainted by his use of performance-enhancing drugs, and they may be right. But as Rodriguez is now into his third decade of jaw-dropping performances, does anyone still remain who can actually point to that as the cause of all of this?

Say this sentence aloud: no player in the history of the American League has more career runs batted in than Alex Rodriguez.