Alex Rodriguez may be simultaneously the most polarizing player of his era, as well as the best.
Now 40, Rodriguez’s contract runs through next season, and he tells ESPN that that’s when he’s going to hang ’em up. Having returned from a year-long PED suspension to have relative success last season, Rodriguez will have two more years to cement a legacy that is unquestionably mixed.
On the one hand, there are the repeated PED issues, some of which came at a time when it was no longer acceptable to play the “but everyone is doing it, and MLB is turning a blind eye!” card. ARod cheated long after cheating was in vogue.
On the other hand, consider that, since Rodriguez debuted in 1994 (when he hadn’t even turned 19 yet), he went on to post six(!) 9+ WAR seasons, and total 114.1 to date. During his career – 1994 to 2015 – that’s the most in baseball. His 687 career homers are the most during that stretch by 85 over the next player (Jim Thome, 602). Depending on how you define ARod’s “era,” he’d have to be the player at the top of the heap, unless you skew a little earlier, in which case it’s Barry Bonds – and, of course, he comes with questions of his own.
So what will Rodriguez’s legacy be, once we’ve had a few post-playing years to digest? Will the greatness be remembered, or only the black marks?