by Rob Joyce
The writing was on the wall, despite his mammoth contract having one more year on it. So Alex Rodriguez’s final MLB game will be on Friday at Yankee Stadium against Tampa Bay. Statistically speaking, in his 22 years A-Rod was one of the most talented players to ever step on the diamond. Off of it, his career was one of the most polarizing. Three MVPs, 696 home runs, a World Series. And a well-documented user of performance-enhancing drugs, which led to his suspension for the duration of the 2014 season.
Regardless of how you feel about Rodriguez, he was electrifying on the field. Here are his top moments from his career:
5) 2001 All-Star Game:
Before he joined the Yankees, Rodriguez was among the best shortstops in the game, if not the best. Naturally he was voted in as the starter for the American League at the All-Star Game in Seattle in ’01. Joining him on the left side of the infield was Cal Ripken, Jr., a former shortstop-turned-third baseman who was retiring at the end of the year.
But A-Rod wanted the future Hall of Famer to have one more moment on the national stage, allowing Ripken to play short for the first inning.
4) Home Run 661:
For a time it looked like A-Rod was going to challenge the all-time home run record, if not break it altogether. For numerous reasons it didn’t wind up happening, as he’ll end up just short of 700 for his career (he begins the week with 696). His last home run milestone came last May against the Orioles, when Rodriguez passed Willie Mays by hitting his 661st career long bal1l.
3) Hit #3000:
A month after he passed The Say Hey Kid, Rodriguez was sitting on 2,999 career hits heading into a matchup against the Tigers. He wasted no time in joining the 3,000-hit club with his first inning home run. He became just the third player to make his 3,000th hit a home run. One of those two others, of course, was his former teammate Derek Jeter.
2) Three MVP Awards:
For a 10-year stretch, from 1999-2009 only Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols could challenge A-Rod for the title of most terrifying hitter in baseball. His first MVP came in his final year with Texas in 2003, when he led the lead with 47 home runs and 124 runs scored (though his 2002 stats were better, he finished second that year).
In the Bronx two years later, he essentially replicated his numbers from ’03 and brought home his second award. Then two years after that in 2007 he slashed an absurd .314/.422/.645 while leading the league in homers (54), RBIs (156), runs (143), slugging and OPS, probably the best season of his career.
1) 2009 Postseason:
The biggest knock on A-Rod on the field was always his postseason performance, as he hit just .259 with 13 home runs on 76 career games. The year he won his only World Series, though, he was as important as anyone for the Yankees. In 15 games he hit six homers, batted .366 and drove in 18 runs. More impressive was the timing – he hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS. He did the same thing in Game 2 of the ALCS. Then in Game 4 of the World Series he had a go-ahead double in the ninth that ultimately gave the Yankees a win.