There’s a lot of talk (at least among Yankee fans, and some baseball fans who chose to acknowledge it) about Alex Rodriguez being on the verge of 3,000 career hits. When that happens – and it will – he will become the 29th player in all of baseball history to reach this milestone.
What’s talked about a little less, but an even bigger milestone, is reaching 2,000 career RBIs. He currently sits at 1,999 career RBI and when the next one comes – and it will, maybe as early as tonight – he will become just the 4th player in all of major league history to reach that milestone. Think about that. Only four other men in history have recorded 2,000 RBI in their baseball careers. All four of them – Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Cap Anson – are all members of the Hall of Fame.
What will it mean when Alex Rodriguez hits 2,000 RBI? Of course there will be mention of prior steroid use and asterisks (yawn) but is it really that easy to simply attribute 2,000 RBI to PEDs?
Let’s assume for argument’s sake that Rodriguez’s 2,000th RBI comes on a solo homerun – his 666th career homerun. (Wouldn’t the world love that?) If we assume all those homeruns were the result of PED usage and subtract them from his RBI total, he would still have 1,334 RBI and rank 96th on the career RBI list. It’s quite a drop from 4th place all time, but placing in the top 100 of all baseball players in the history of the game is, in my opinion, a respectable accomplishment.
How does that compare to other major steroid users? The three names that immediately come to my mind are Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and of course Jose Canceso. Consider each one individually:
Sosa ranks highest among the three in career RBI with 1,667 (27th all time). Without his career total 609 HR, he would still have 1,058 career RBI (tied for 240th all time). Not awful.
McGwire is next on the list with 1,414 career RBI (70th all time). Without his 583 career HR, he would be left with only 831 career RBI and be tied for 427th place all time. (Oof!)
Canseco has the lowest career RBI total at 1,407, and without his 462 career HR, he would have 945 career RBI (tied for 331th place all time). Fun fact: David Wright currently has 331 career RBI.
So when A-Rod knocks in his 2,000th career run – whether it happens tonight, tomorrow, or sometime next week – just refer back to some of these numbers. Personal thoughts on PEDs aside, it’s interesting to see what a dramatic difference in stats there would be if we assume all four of these players hit 100% of their homeruns thanks to chemicals (and counting each homerun as 1 RBI each). Only one player would drop less than 100 places on the all time list and still rank in the top 100 of all players in baseball history.
And if you’re curious… Without including homeruns –
Alex Rodriguez would drop 92 places on the all time list
Sammy Sosa would drop 213 places on the all time list
Jose Canseco would drop 258 places on the all time list
Mark McGwire would drop 357 places on the all time list.
All stats from http://www.baseball-reference.com