Cheater. Steroid user. Bad example for Major League Baseball. These are all names that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been called since he was suspended by the MLB for all of last season in January of 2014. Anybody who follows or is a fan of the great game of baseball has an opinion on the controversial slugger.
Rodriguez returned to the Yankees in March for Spring Training ready to prove that he could still be a productive hitter for the Bronx Bombers. General Manager Brian Cashman believed in him, and it has paid off for New York.
Whether you like him or hate him, or think he should be playing or not, Rodriguez has gotten the job done for the Yankees in 2015 while making history along the way. He hit his 660th home run, and today he passed Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for second place on the official all-time RBI list. (Runs batted in were not an official statistic until 1920, so Ruth’s official RBI total is 1,992, but Baseball Reference has him at 2,214.)
Lets be clear: I’m been as critical of Rodriguez as anybody, and I don’t believe under any circumstances that a steroid user should ever be enshrined in Cooperstown.
However any realistic person would acknowledge that A-Rod is one of the main reasons why the Yankees are relevant at this point in the season, sitting in first place in the American League East at 25-22, 1.5 games ahead of the Rays.
Rodriguez currently is second the team in OBP (.374), RBI (23), SLG (.566), and OPS (.940). He is carrying this team along with Mark Teixeira which should come as a surprise to everybody.
Even the Commissioner has recognized his performance since he has come back.
This is what Rob Manfred said in a public statement last week:
“I think Alex has done a great job re-entering in a difficult situation,” said Manfred, who met with Rodriguez in January at A-Rod’s request. “Whenever a player is suspended, it’s difficult to return to the field. He’s played well, and good for him. I’m pleased for him.”
There is no question that I hate Rodriguez and what he stands for, and I think the game would be better if he retired. However, I have gained a little more respect for him because he is finally letting his production speak louder than his words.