Hall Watch 2004- Alex Rodriguez

Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 06:35 AM EST

Contributed by: Mike Green

At age 28, Alex Rodriguez had his least productive season (.286/.375/.512) since he was 21, and he was moved to third base to accommodate Derek Jeter. Still, the question about Alex is not whether he will be a Hall of Famer, but where he stands against the very best who have played the position.

Alex Rodriguez was the 1st overall pick of the 1993 draft, and zipped through the minors to get cups of coffee in 1994 and 1995, before arriving as one of the greatest 20 year olds to ever play the game in 1996. His defence was raw at first, but very quickly he emerged as an above-average defensive shortstop with a fine arm.

Here's how he stacks up against the 2 career Runs Created above average leaders among shortstops at this stage in their careers:

Player         G     AB     H    HR     W     BA    OBP   SLUG   OPS+
A-Rod 1430 5590 1707 381 639 .305 .381 .574 143
Wagner 770 3006 1019 32 223 .339 .393 .484 148
Vaughan 1305 4894 1591 78 728 .325 .416 .473 141

Arky Vaughan started out fast, but had a short career. Honus Wagner was a great player from the beginning, but what is most notable about him is his outstanding performance in his 30s. His dedication to fitness probably contributed greatly to that.

Rodriguez started out very young, and has been durable. Wisely, he played only 155 games this past season, instead of his customary 161 or 162. His defensive adjustment to third base was quick and easy. He is arguably the best defensive third baseman in the league already, and if not that, he is at least competitive with Eric Chavez for that title. Rodriguez' record in the post-season is exemplary; he's hit .330/.395/.583 while his teams have won 3 and lost 4 series, but he has not yet made it to a World Series.

Rodriguez is on pace to become the second best shortstop of all time behind Wagner (or if he continues as a third baseman for many years, to be competitive with Mike Schmidt for the title of greatest third baseman). Curiously, Wagner converted from third base to short in mid-career, while Schmidt converted from short to third very early in his career. Rodriguez was the first shortstop since Wagner to be one of the top 3 hitters in the league for an extended period. While he was not one of the best hitters in the league last year, there is good reason to believe that he may be one again for another run of years.

Let's try for Alex Rodriguez final career statistics. For the Green projection method, we'll try an orange-tomato soup to steel us for the cold. Saute onions, add cumin and garlic, then canned diced tomatoes, stock and juice and grated rind of one orange. Cook 30 minutes, inhale and pronounce:

2200 runs, 750 homers, 2350 RBIs, .295/.378/.569.