Alex Rodriguez has exceeded all expectations for the 2015 season, and has the milestones to prove it.
On Tuesday night, Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a home run in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Orioles, and he made more history in the process.
Rodriguez’s home run was his 30th of the season, his first 30-homer season since 2010. This is his 15th season with 30 or more home runs, which ties him with Hank Aaron for the most all-time.
Rodriguez said of tying Aaron, “It’s great. I didn’t have many expectations, but right now I’m focusing on every at-bat of just trying to help the team win.”
A-Rod breaks a tie with Joe DiMaggio for fourth with eight 30-homer seasons as a Yankee. He trails Babe Ruth, who had 13, Gehrig with 10, and Mantle did it nine times.
Rodriguez is one of just four players in Major League Baseball history to homer both as a teenager and as a 40-year old, joining Rusty Staub, Gary Sheffield, and Ty Cobb in that elite group.
The two hits on Tuesday gave him 3,056 career hits, passing Rickey Henderson (3,055) for sole possession of 22nd place on Major League Baseball’s all-time hits list. It was the second day in a row he moved up the list, as he passed Rod Carew (3,053 hits)for sole possession of 23rd on the list with his home run on Monday.
If that’s not enough for you, he needs just five hits to pass Craig Biggio, who is 21st on the list with 3,060 hits. That could come in just a couple of days.
The homer on Tuesday was his fourth in the five games the Yankees have played on the current homestand. He had just two home runs over his previous 31 games from July 28th to September 2nd.
The drop-off in power was emblematic of a tough August in which he hit just .153 (13-for-85) with two homers and seven RBI. In September, through eight games, he is hitting .286 (8-for-28) with four home runs and seven RBI.
The strong start to this month is a great sign for the Yankees, and a reminder of how good Rodriguez can be down the stretch.
The last time Rodriguez competed in September after playing a full season was in 2012, and he hit .261 with three home runs and 13 RBI.
In 2013, he did not return until August 5th, and he gave the Yankees a lift as they made a playoff run that ultimately fell short. He hit .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBI.
Through Tuesday, for the season, A-Rod is hitting .258 (117-for-453) with 30 home runs and 78 RBI in 128 games.
This is quite a turnaround for Rodriguez, who came back from a suspension and all the animus between him and Yankees management.
A-Rod’s battle for acceptance with the Yankees front office did not go away once the season began. He faced a battle over the $6-million incentive that was in his contract when he passed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. The sign that things had turned was when they settled on what to do with the money, making a big donation to charities Rodriguez supports.
Another sign of the Yankees’ warming up to A-Rod is that he will be honored this Sunday for his 3,000th hit.
A-Rod has been as key as anybody to where the Yankees are this season, along with the comeback year for fellow veteran Mark Teixeira.
Teixeira has hit .255 with 31 home runs and 79 RBIs. He has been out with nerve issues in his right leg, and General Manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that he is unsure if he will be able to return this season.
Rodriguez said of Teixeira being out and his replacement, rookie Greg Bird, “You know how important Tex is, you know how I feel about him, and what he means to this clubhouse on and off the field and both sides of the ball. Birdie has been doing a great job. We have to keep rolling.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Everybody has injuries. One of the great things (Cashman) has done is he has built a very good roster here – one through 40,” said Rodriguez.
With Teixeira possibly done for the season, there is more pressure on Rodriguez to carry them down the stretch, while making history along the way.