Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Latino Milestones

Keeping with the theme of a few of the last posts, here are a few Latino milestones of note in MLB.

- Ivan Rodriguez Joins the 300 Homerun Club for Catchers

With his second homer of the season coming against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park, Ivan Rodriguez joined a select club. In registering his 300th career homerun as a catcher, Rodriguez joins Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.

Rodriguez currently has a career .298 batting average with 2783 hits (563 2B 51 3B 307 HR) and 1294 RBI. Rodriguez has a career .802 OPS (.353 OBP% .468 SLG%). He has 1422 K's, 497 BB and 127 stolen bases. This doesn't even take into account that Rodriguez is one of the best defensive catchers of not only our generation but of all time.

During a current 20-year career, Rodriguez has caught 2358 games while playing a total of only 8 games at both 1st and 2nd bases. He is prolific at throwing runners out that try to steal on him by throwing out an amazing 46% of all runners (754 allowed 638 caught stealing). By comparison, Bench threw out 44% of runners (610 allowed 444 caught stealing), Fisk threw out 34% (1302 allowed 665 caught stealing) and Berra threw out 47% (428 allowed 384 caught stealing).

I believe that it is only a matter of time before Ivan Rodriguez joins his fellow 300 homerun club in Cooperstown.

- Alex Rodriguez Joins the 600 Homerun Club

Alex Rodriguez with his 1st inning homerun off of Shawn Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays became the 7th member of the 600 homerun club. In doing so, he became the youngest player to do so (at the age of 35) and is the second Latino to reach the milestone (Sammy Sosa 609) . Rodriguez joins the following players in the club:

Barry Bonds 762
Hank Aaron 755 (HOF)
Babe Ruth 714 (HOF)
Willie Mays 660 (HOF)
Ken Griffey Jr. 630
Sammy Sosa 609

Under normal circumstances A-Rod's achievement would be considered a free pass into Cooperstown but his admission to using performance enhancing drugs (PED's) during the 2001-2003 seasons puts his enshrinement in jeopardy. No doubt many baseball writers, who hold the power of enshrinement into Cooperstown with their vote, will vote to keep Rodriguez out. But I believe that a telling aspect to his career will be how current Hall of Famers see his accomplishment.

Hank Aaron, who some believe is still the Home Run King of MLB , had the following to say about Rodriguez's 600th homerun:

"When you reach that plateau, no matter where it is, whether you're playing in the Majors or the Minors, it's a tremendous accomplishment," Aaron said. "It means an awful lot to whoever reaches this achievement."

When asked about Rodriguez's achievement in the era of PED's, smaller parks and diluted pitching staffs due to expansion, Aaron had the following statements:

"It really doesn't matter what kind of asterisk you put by it -- 600 homers is something special," Aaron said. "It's been so long since I reached that mark, I really don't remember how I felt. But I'm sure I was excited, probably even more than Alex because there weren't as many people who had done it before."

Others were not as positive towards Rodriguez as Aaron is. Here are a few more comments from Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, and Gary Carter:

Sandberg: "That's a lot of home runs," Ryne Sandberg said. "It's really something for anybody who does that. It's a small group. And he joins that group. But that's all I've got to say about it."

Smith: "Basically, there will always be questions, always be doubts, whether the home runs were legitimate," Ozzie Smith said. "That's it in a nutshell. He came up in an era when everyone used. So it's very questionable."

Carter: "I think it's great, but obviously, he'll always have hanging over his head the allegations about the drugs he took," Gary Carter said. "In any event, he's one of those kids who had the tag of 'superstar' on him when he was drafted, and he became a superstar. So he'll always be recognized as a great player. But 600, that's an incredible milestone. Not too many players have gotten there. And if he stays healthy, there's a chance he might one day be the all-time home run guy. We'll see."

Time will tell how Alex Rodriguez is seen five years from the time he takes his last at-bat. Being under contract to the New York Yankees until 2017 that puts him eligible for the Hall of Fame in the year 2022. Who knows how the steroid era will be seen by then. Like I said, only time will tell.

FH

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Mark Bowman's article named Aaron Impressed by A-Rod's Milestone from MLB.com
- Click Here for Barry M. Bloom's article named Hall of Famers Weigh in on A-Rod from MLB.com
- Click Here for an Interactive Timeline Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy on the seven members of the 600-Homerun club from The New York Times.com
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