- SS, DH, 3B
- July 27, 1975
- 6' 3"
- 230 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 7-08-1994 with SEA
- Allstar Selections:
- 1996 ML, 1996 SS, 1998 SS, 1999 SS, 2000 SS, 2001 Hank A, 2001 SS, 2002 GG, 2002 Hank A, 2002 ML, 2002 SS, 2003 GG, 2003 Hank A, 2003 MVP, 2003 SS, 2005 MVP, 2005 SS, 2007 Hank A, 2007 ML, 2007 MVP, 2007 SS, 2008 SS, 2009 BR
New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez has signed the two largest contracts in the history of baseball and is considered by many as the man who will become the first to ever hit 800 home runs. But a career destined for the Hall of Fame has hit a few speed bumps in the last few years.
A-Rod, as he has become known, was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City, Rodriguez and his family moved to the Dominican Republic when he was four. They eventually moved to Miami, Florida where Rodriguez exploded onto the radar of many Major League teams while playing at Westminster Christian High School. He helped his high school team to the national championship as a Junior, then was the USA Baseball Junior Player of the Year as a Senior (.505 BA, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 35 SB).
Rodriguez signed to play at the University of Miami, but passed on the opportunity when he was selected as the #1 overall pick in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Mariners. He received a $1 million signing bonus, but later did donate $3.9 million to renovate the baseball facilities at Miami, where the field was renamed "Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field".
The pro career for Rodriguez started in 1994 with a quick trip through the system, playing in 114 games at Class A, AA & AAA before a call-up to the majors, making his debut in Boston's Fenway Park on July 8, 1994 at age 18 years, 11 months, 11 days. At that age, Rodriguez was just the third Major League shortstop since 1900 that young. His debut season was cut short at 17 games and a .204 batting average due to the 1994 players strike.
The 1995 season was split between Seattle and the Tacoma Rainiers, the new Mariners' Triple-A affiliate. His time in the majors saw the 19-year old hit his first home run off Kansas City's Tom Gordon, as well as make the post-season roster. The Mariners won a memorable five-game series with the New York Yankees, but lost the American League Championship Series to the Cleveland Indians, four games to two. Rodriguez would manage just two hitless at-bats in the playoffs.
But it was the 1996 season that put "A-Rod" on the map. He won the American League batting crown with a .358 average and earned his first of 12 All-Star Game selections. But those numbers couldn't help the Mariners enough to reach the playoffs. In 1997, Rodriguez would see his offensive numbers decrease (.300 BA, 23 HR, 84 RBI), but the team won the American League West title.
The 1998 season would see Rodriguez post the best numbers of his career to date with A-Rod becoming only the third player in major League history to collect at least 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He would play two more seasons with the Mariners, reaching the playoffs in 1999 and hitting more than 40 home runs both seasons, but many could see that Rodriguez's days with Seattle were numbered. With the Mariners inability to sign big money free agents, Randy Johnson being traded in 1998 and Ken Griffey, Jr. signing with Cincinnati after the 1999 season, Rodriguez's time to leave was coming soon.
January 26, 2001 was a day that changed professional sports as Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, the largest contract in North American sports. His first year with the Rangers did not disappoint their fans or owner Tom Hicks, who laid out all of that money for Rodriguez. The Rangers shortstop batted. 318 with 52 home runs and 135 RBI. He followed that up with a 57 homer, 142 RBI season in 2002 and an MVP award in 2003 (47 home runs, 118 RBI). But the Rangers failed to reach the playoffs in any of those years. And with Hicks seeing less of a return on his investment than expected, the Rangers traded Rodriguez to the Yankees, along with cash considerations, for then second baseman Alfonso Soriano.
But with his move to New York City came another one as well... the move from shortstop to 3rd Base. Rodriguez would move to the 'hot corner" so that Derek Jeter would stay at short, similar to what happened in the 2001 All-Star Game when Rodriguez was voted the starter at shortstop, but he moved to 3rd Base to allow Cal Ripken to play the position in his final appearance in the mid-summer classic.
The first season for Rodriguez in "pinstripes" (2004) was a good one (.281 BA, 36 HR, 106 RBI, 112 RS, 28 SB) and saw the Yankees win 101 games and beat Minnesota in the Division Series. In the Championship Series, the Yankees won the first three games over the Red Sox before Boston rallied for four straight victories and a trip to the World Series. Rodriguez would collect his second American League MVP in 2005 (.321 BA, 48 HR, 130 RBI) and would see him become 11th player with 10 RBI or more in a game after collecting 10 RBI in an April win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. But the Yankees would lose to the Angels in the Division Series with Rodriguez getting just two hits in five games.
That series was the start of a pattern for Rodriguez and the Yankees. The regular season numbers were impressive, but the post-season left much to be desired. In 2006, Rodriguez had 35 HR, 121 RBI and 113 runs scored, but only one hit in a Division Series loss to the Detroit Tigers. The 2007 season saw him become just the fifth player in history with a 50 HR, 150 RBI season (54 HR, 156 RBI), along with his 500th career home run in August against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium and his 3rd A.L. MVP award, but the Yankees fell to Cleveland in the first round with Rodriguez collecting just four hits and one RBI.
As the pressure mounted, Rodriguez opted out of the remaining years of his contract looking for an unheard of $30 million per year contract. He never got that contract, but did sign a 10-year, $270 million deal with the Yankees in December of 2007, a contract that included other financial incentives for home runs milestones that Rodriguez reaches and would total approximately $314 million. That contract didn't help the Yankees in 2008. Rodriguez spent almost one month on the Disabled List and the team won 89 games, but finished in 3rd Place behind Tampa and Boston and failed to make the playoffs.
But after acquiring free agents C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Texeira in the off-season, the Yankees and Rodriguez would claim their 27th World Series title by beating the Phillies. The start of that season would be tough for A-Rod, both on and off the field. After mounting pressure that he tested positive for steroids in 2004 courtesy of a Sports Illustrated article, Rodriguez admitted to use of performance enhancing substances in a TV interview with former ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons. He then started the season on the D.L. with a muscle tear in his hip.
Once he got onto the field, Rodriguez collected 30 HR and 100 RBI in 124 games, helping the Yankees to the A.L. East title. He then led the Yankees to a three-game sweep of Minnesota in the Division Series and a six-game series win over the Angels to advance to the World Series. Rodriguez batted .438 with 5 HR and 12 RBI in leading New York to the World Series. He added six RBI in the six-game series win over the Phillies.
Rodriguez hit his 600th homerun August 4, 2010 off Shaun Marcum. He will also became just the third player ever to reach 600 home runs and 300 stolen bases, along with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays.
2011 has seen another injury plagued season and will be the first time since 1997 the slugger will not appear in 100 games, hit 30 homeruns or drive in 100 runs.
- Alex Rodriguez