Saturday, January 12, 2013

As we prepare for Arod Surgery Day, what are the realistic chances that he can beat Barry Bonds' career HR record?

Yankee fans around the world will wake up early Wednesday, toddle down to the living room in their Doctor Dentons, and see what the Surgery Fairy left under the dead tree. Who knows? Maybe it'll be an Evan Longoria! Then again, it might be a lump of coal, or a Celerino Sanchez.

This year, Arod turns 37. He has 647 home runs - 115 below Barry BigHead's career all-time record. Can he do it? Can he out-pariah the pariah?

Obviously, this is all projection - and the further we go, it's like traveling beyond the solar system. But hey, strap yourself in, and let's go for a ride.

This year (37): We assume the operation is a success, and they don't leave a bottle cap inside him. He returns in July - homers in his first game. (He always does.) He hits a few, then goes cold. He's streaky. Let's project 10 to 15 home runs - let's call it 13.

He is now at 660 - tied with Willie Mays for fourth. (This is an issue, because landmark HRs cause delays.)

2014 (38): This is his best shot. Increasingly, he DH's.  But he must share that role with Jeter and maybe Tex. (Could Jeet play third?) Arod swings away, and his average falls to .240. Nevertheless, he gets 500 plate appearances and hits 20 to 30.  Let's call it 25.

He is now 685 - fourth place, and 29 HRs behind Babe Ruth.

2015 (39): Now he's a full-time DH, maybe a little 1B. He's a bit chubby and comfortable with pine seats. Injuries nag at him. He increasingly platoons, but he's nasty on lefties. Let's say 15 to 25 HRs. Let's call it 20.

He is now 705 - nine HRs behind the Bambino.

2016 (40): His Yankee tenure has become dicey. A team chasing the pennant cannot play a slow, aging slugger who bats .230. Arod is now a full-time RH platoon, a DH and pinch-hitter. He swings for the fences. Think Andruw Jones.

By now, he's either made peace with NY writers and fans - or the Yankees face a huge quandary. Can he become the crafty bat off the bench, a Raul Ibanez? Dunno.  Let's say 10 to 20 home runs. Let's call it 15.

He is now 730, third on the all-time list. He is 32 HRs from the record.

2017 (41): It's hard to see him now. He's beaten the Yankee legend, and the team wanted him to do it in a Yankee uniform. Now he's chasing the beloved Hank Aaron and the hated Bonds. At this point, some last place team with a bandbox stadium and a crying need for publicity takes half him off our hands. I'm thinking Miami, Texas, Seattle or the Mets. We pay much of his salary (unless it's the Mets.)  On a crappy team, he is free to chase numbers. He gets 500 plate appearances - more than he's had in recent years. He bats .220. But he hits 20 to 30. Let's say 25.

He is now 755 - tied with Hammerin Hank and seven behind the pariah. He is a free agent. OK, how bad does he want this? How bad does baseball want Bonds out of its memory hole. Is Arod looking for one last shot at a ring? Could the Yankees bring him back, hoping to carry him, platoon him until he hits eight measly home runs? Would the fans want him?

Well, we've obviously gone beyond the solar system. You can't project from interstellar space. Everybody has a different answer to those final questions. Hey, it's just a story to tell your kids when you put them to sleep on Surgery Day Eve.


1 comment:

Tom said...

Generous projections. Would be nice if he could live up to those meager numbers. Whoever insisted on signing this guy should immediately resign.

To answer your main question: he won't make to Bonds and probably not Ruth, unless you start giving him credit for pop flies to the outfield.

Kiss the bat, Alex, and be sure to grimace on the way back to the dugout.