Alex Rodriguez

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Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Position Third Base
Team New York Yankees
Years of Experience 11 years
Age 30
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight 225 lbs.
Bats Right
Throws Right
College N/A
2005 Salary $25,705,118
Place of Birth New York City, New York
Selection 1st round amateur draft, 1993
Drafted by Seattle Mariners
Major League Debut July 8, 1994
File:Alex Rodriguez, NYY uniform, walking.jpg
Alex Rodriguez taking his position at 3rd base at the beginning of a new inning

Alexander Emanuel Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975 in New York City), nicknamed A-Rod, is widely regarded as one of the best players in Major League Baseball and at a young age already is being talked about among the all-time greats.

His swing and defensive play are known for their mechanical soundness. On the field, he has especially great range to his right side. Tall, with long arms and a crouched stance, he can cover most of the strike zone and can hit almost any pitch for a home run. Rodriguez won Gold Gloves at shortstop in 2002 and 2003.

Rodriguez was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners. He later signed an unprecedented free-agent deal to play shortstop with the Texas Rangers, and was traded in 2004 to the New York Yankees, where he played third base. In 2003, he became the youngest major-leaguer to reach 300 home runs; on June 8, 2005, he became the youngest with 400.

On November 17, 2003, Rodriguez won the American League Most Valuable Player award. It was the second time the award had gone to a player whose team finished last in the league (Andre Dawson won the award for the last-place Chicago Cubs). The following month, the Rangers tried to trade Rodriguez and his hefty salary to the Boston Red Sox. The Players Association blocked the deal, because the Red Sox wanted to cut Rodriguez's pay. On January 25, 2004, he was named captain of the Rangers. Less than three weeks later, he was traded to the Yankees, the first reigning MVP to be traded.

Beginnings

File:Rodriguez3.JPG
Alex Rodriguez at the plate.

Born in New York City, Rodríguez moved with his parents to their native Dominican Republic when he was four. They moved to Miami, Florida four years later. There, Alex's father announced he had to go to New York for a short time; he never returned. Rodríguez has said in interviews he can forgive his father for abandoning the family, but that he will never forget.

Rodríguez was a star player at Miami's Westminster Christian High School. His skills were rewarded with a baseball scholarship to the University of Miami, but Rodriguez would never play college baseball. He was recruited by the Seattle Mariners, who made the 17-year old the No. 1 pick of the amateur draft in 1993. He rose rapidly through the Mariners organization and made his major league debut at 18, one of the youngest players to appear in a game at shortstop.

Early career with the Seattle Mariners

After his major league campaign in 1994 was cut short by the players' strike, Rodríguez split most of 1995 between Seattle and their AAA club 30 miles away in Tacoma before staying on the major league roster in August, making a pair of postseason appearances on the Mariners' playoff run. Memorably, he consoled second baseman Joey Cora, who cried after the Mariners' loss in the League Championship Series.

Rodríguez took over as the regular shortstop the following year, and became a superstar, hitting 36 home runs and pacing the American League with a .358 batting average, and leading the league in runs, total bases, and doubles; great numbers even by the standards of the Kingdome, one of the American League's best hitter's parks. He came close to being the youngest MVP in baseball history, but fell 3 points short to Juan González. He may have been denied the honor by the two Seattle-area sportswriters who gave him 8th- and 9th-place votes in the balloting.

Rodriguez was a favorite with Mariners fans. He hit for the cycle with them in 1997, but slumped that year with only 23 home runs and a "mere" .300 average; the Mariners won the division but were quickly eliminated from the playoffs. He recovered with authority in 1998 by becoming the 3rd member of the 40 home run/40 stolen bases club, racking up 42 HR and 46 SB. Despite missing 30+ games with an injury and playing home games at Safeco Field (a considerably less hitter-friendly ballpark than the Kingdome) for the second half of the season, he matched his HR total in 1999.

A-Rod entered 2000 as the cornerstone of his franchise, which had recently dealt superstars Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey, Jr.. Rodriguez put up great numbers as the team's remaining superstar, and hit 41 more HRs in 2000 as he hit .316, doing so playing in the best pitcher's park in the AL. Winning the AL West in 2000, Rodriguez hit well in the playoffs, but the Mariners lost to the World Series champion New York Yankees in the LCS. He still made an appearance in the Series, sitting in the stands of Shea Stadium watching his friend Derek Jeter play in that year's all-New York World Series between the Yankees and New York Mets.

Texas Rangers

Rodriguez became a free agent after the season and declared that he wanted to go to a World Series-caliber team. There were rumors that he would go to the Mets because of his appearance at Shea (these led some Mariner teammates to call him "Shea-rod"). He eventually chose to sign with the Texas Rangers (last in their division in 2000, but winners of three of the previous four AL West championships). The Rangers gave him what was then the most lucrative contract in sports history (since surpassed by David Beckham, the contract still is the most expensive in American sports), a 10-year deal worth $252 million that also brought publicity to the so-called Jock tax. Many fans saw this as desertion, and Rodriguez is booed, and sometimes thrown money, when he returns to Seattle.

Rodriguez' numbers went up at Texas. He hit 52 home runs in 2001, and followed that with a major league-best 57 home runs in 2002, the most ever for a shortstop. He put a bookend on that year by winning his first Gold Glove Award. Unfortunately, the Rangers finished last two years running, a showing that likely cost Rodriguez the MVP award when he finished second in 2002 to fellow shortstop Miguel Tejada, who played for a championship-caliber team. (The Mariners didn't miss him; they won a world record-tying 116 games in 2001.)

Rodriguez's last season with Texas, 2003, was another productive year: he hit .298 with 47 home runs, won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award and was named the league's MVP, despite the Rangers remaining mired in last place.

New York Yankees

On February 15, 2004, after Rodriguez became the Texas captain and been courted by the Boston Red Sox, he was traded to the New York Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (Joaquin Arias). The terms require the Yankees to pay $67 million of the $179 million left on Rodriguez's contract. Since New York already had a star shortstop in team captain Derek Jeter, the trade developed only after New York's third baseman, Aaron Boone, suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing a game of pickup basketball, and Rodriguez agreed to switch positions to third base.

Rodriguez also had to switch uniform numbers, from 3, which he had worn his entire career but which is retired by the Yankees in honor of Babe Ruth, to 13.

In his first season with the Yankees, Rodriguez hit .286 with 36 home runs and 106 runs batted in, his seventh consecutive season with at least 100 RBI. He finished 14th in balloting for the American League MVP Award. Near the end of the season, Yankees manager Joe Torre moved Rodriguez to the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Although New York Yankees players are generally loathed in Boston, Rodriguez is one of the most hated, because he nearly became a member of the Red Sox organization after the 2003 season, then signed with New York after the players' union voided the proposed Boston-Texas trade. On July 24, 2004, Rodriguez and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek got into a fight that cleared both benches after Rodriguez took offense to being hit by a pitch from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo. In another infamous incident during Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, Rodriguez slapped the baseball out of Arroyo's glove during a tag play at first base. Derek Jeter, scored from first, but the umpires quickly huddled and called Rodriguez out.

2005 Season Highlights

Rodriguez had one of his finest seasons in 2005. Among the highlights:

  • April 26: Went 4-5 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI against the Angels.
  • June 8: Hit his 400th career home run, becoming the youngest player in Major League history to do so at 29 years and 316 days old. Ken Griffey, Jr., the previous record holder, reached 400 home runs at 30 years, 141 days.
  • July 27: Turned 30 years old. Rodriguez had more home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, and hits than all-time leaders Hank Aaron (HR and RBI), Rickey Henderson (Runs), and Pete Rose (hits) did in their twenties.
  • August 13: Set the record for HR hit by a right hander at Yankee Stadium in a single season; passing by Joe DiMaggio and Gary Sheffield.
  • August 30: Became first right-handed Yankee hitter to hit 40 homeruns in a season since Joe DiMaggio hit 46 in 1937.
  • September 24: Tied Joe DiMaggio with the most homeruns by a Yankee right-handed hitter with his 46th homerun of the season.
  • October 1: Blasted his 48th homer of the season, tying him for most homers in a season for a third baseman with Adrian Beltre and Mike Schmidt. He now holds the records for most homers in a single season for two positions, shortstop and third base, becoming the only major leaguer ever to hold home run records for two positions.
  • October 26: Was named the shortstop on the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team.

Miscellaneous

  • His 2005 salary of $25,705,118 is the highest in Major League Baseball.
  • His former teams have improved their records in the first season after his departure. In 2001, the Mariners won 25 more games. In 2004, the Rangers surpassed their dismal record by 18 games.
  • In 2003, Alex Rodriguez gave $3.9 million to the University of Miami to renovate its baseball stadium. The new facility will be named 'Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.' Rodriguez had signed a letter of intent to play baseball for Miami, but was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners. Initially, Rodriguez and the team could not agree to terms and Rodriguez planned to go ahead and play college ball instead. However, just days before he was to begin classes at the university, Seattle sweetened its offer and Rodriguez elected to sign with the big league club. Rodriguez, who was also recruited by the university to play quarterback for its football team, remains an ardent Miami Hurricanes fan and can frequently be found at Hurricane sporting events, as well as working out at the school's athletic facilities in the off-season.
  • He married the former Cynthia Scurtis on November 2, 2002: the couple's first child, Natasha Alexander, was born on November 18, 2004.
  • In February 2004, he was Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher, but according to People Magazine, he told Kutcher to destroy the tape and never air it on MTV.

External links

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