Alex Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975), nicknamed A-Rod, is a Dominican
American professional baseball player. He currently plays third base for the New
York Yankees of Major League Baseball. He previously played shortstop for the
Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers.
Alex is considered one of the best all–around baseball players of all time. He is the youngest player ever to hit 500 home runs, breaking the record Jimmie Foxx set in 1939.
In December 2007, Alex and the Yankees agreed to a 10 year, $275 million contract. This contract was the richest contract in baseball history (breaking his previous record of $252 million).
In February 2009, Alex admitted to using banned substances from 2001 to 2003, citing "an enormous amount of pressure to perform".
Alex was born in the Washington Heights section of New York City to a Dominican family. When he was four, Alex and his parents moved to their native Dominican Republic, then to Miami, Florida. Rodriguez's favorite baseball players when he was growing up were Keith Hernandez, Dale Murphy, and Cal Ripken. His favorite team growing up was the New York Mets.
Alex was a star shortstop at Miami's Westminster Christian High School. In 100 games he batted .419 with 90 steals. Westminster went on to win the high school national championship in his junior year. He was first team prep All-American as a senior, hitting .505 with 9 home runs, 36 RBI, and 35 steals in 35 tries in 33 games, and was selected as the USA Baseball Junior Player of the Year and as Gatorade's national baseball student athlete of the year. Alex was the first high school player to ever try out for Team USA in 1993, and was regarded as the top prospect in the country.
Alex signed a letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Miami and was also recruited by the university to play quarterback for its football team. Alex turned down Miami's baseball scholarship and never played college baseball, opting instead to sign with the Seattle Mariners after being selected in the first round of the amateur draft at the age of 17. In 2003, Alex gave $3.9 million to the University of Miami to renovate its baseball stadium. The new facility will be named "Mark Light Field at Alexander Rodriguez Park." Alex remains an ardent University of Miami 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 received the University of Miami's Edward T. Foote II Alumnus of Distinction Award in 2007. Alex had previously been named an "honorary alumnus" of the university in 2004. He is a member of the University of Miami's Board of Trustees.
Alex was drafted first overall by the Seattle Mariners in 1993. He was signed by Roger Jongewaard right out of high school. In 1994, Alex played for Seattle's AAA affiliate, the Calgary Cannons. In 32 games, he had 37 hits in 119 at bats for a .311 batting average. He also compiled 6 home runs and 21 runs batted in. Alex rose rapidly through the Mariners organization, and made his major league debut as the starting shortstop on July 8, 1994, in Boston at 18 years, 11 months, and 11 days of age. He was just the third 18-year-old Major League shortstop since 1900. He was also the first 18-year-old Major League player in 10 years, and the youngest position player in Seattle history. His first Major League hit was a single off Sergio Valdez on July 9 at Fenway Park. Rodriguez's first Major League campaign lasted just one month; the season was cut short by the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.
Alex then split most of 1995 between the Mariners and their AAA club, the Tacoma Rainiers. He connected for his first Major League home run off Kansas City's Tom Gordon on June 12. Alex joined the Major League roster permanently in August, and got his first taste of postseason play, albeit in just two at-bats. Again, he was the youngest player in baseball.
The following year, Alex took over as the Mariners' regular shortstop (SS) and emerged as a star player, hitting 36 HR, driving in 123 runs, and pacing the American League (AL) with a .358 batting average, the highest for an AL right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio hit .381 in 1939 and the 3rd highest ever for a SS. At 21 years and one month, he was the 3rd youngest AL batting leader ever behind Al Kaline (20) in 1955 and Ty Cobb (20) in 1907, and the 3rd youngest player in history with 35+ homers. He was also the 1st major league SS to win a batting title since 1960, and the 1st in the AL since 1944, and at 20 years, 11 months, was the youngest SS in All-Star Game history. He also led the AL in runs (141), total bases (379), and doubles (54) and ranked among the league leaders in hits (2nd, 215), extra base hits (2nd, 91), multi-hit games (3rd, 65), slugging (4th, .631), RBI (8th, 123), and on-base percentage (8th, .414). Alex posted the highest totals ever for a shortstop in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits, and slugging, and tied most total bases, and established Seattle club records for average, runs, hits, doubles, and total bases, in a season that statistical analysts consider the best ever by an SS.
He was selected by both The Sporting News and Associated Press as the Major League Player of the Year, and came close to becoming the youngest MVP (Most Valuable Player) in baseball history, finishing second to Juan González in one of the most controversial MVP elections in recent times. He finished three points behind González (290-287), matching the 2nd closest A.L. MVP voting in history.
In 1997, Rodriguez's numbers fell somewhat, as he hit 23 HRs with 84 RBI and a .300 batting average that year. He hit for the cycle on June 5 at Detroit, becoming the 2nd Mariner to ever accomplish the feat, and at 21 years, 10 months, was 5th youngest player in history to do it. He was the fan's choice to start the All-Star Game at shortstop for the AL team, becoming the first player other than Cal Ripken to start at shortstop in 13 years. It was the first All-Star start of his career and his second All-Star Game in two years.
Alex rebounded in 1998, setting the AL record for homers by a shortstop and becoming just the third member of the 40-40 Club, (with 42 HR and 46 SB) and one of just 3 shortstops in history to hit 40 home runs in a season.
Alex Rodriguez was selected as Players Choice AL Player of the Year, won his 2nd Silver Slugger Award and finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting.
In 1999, he again hit 42 HR, despite missing over 30 games with an injury and playing the second half of the season at Safeco Field, a considerably less hitter-friendly ballpark than the Kingdome.
Alex entered 2000 as the cornerstone player of the Mariners franchise, which had recently dealt superstars Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey, Jr. Alex put up great numbers as the team's remaining superstar; he hit 41 HR with 132 RBI and had a .316 batting average. He set a career high for walks (100) and became the only shortstop to have 100 runs, RBI, and walks in the same season. He hit well in the playoffs as well (.409 batting average and .773 slugging percentage), but Seattle lost to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
He was selected as the Major League Player of the Year by Baseball America and finished 3rd in the BBWAA AL MVP voting.
Alex became a free agent after the 2000 season. He eventually signed with the Texas Rangers, who had fallen to last in their division in 2000. The contract he signed was at the time the most lucrative contract in sports history: a 10-year deal worth $252 million. The deal was worth $63 million more than the second-richest baseball deal.
Rodriguez's power hitting numbers improved with his move to Texas. In his first season with the Rangers, Alex produced one of the top offensive seasons ever for a shortstop, leading the American League with 52 HR, 133 runs scored, and 393 total bases. He became the first player since 1932 with 50 homers and 200 hits in a season, just the third shortstop to ever lead his league in homers, and was just the second AL player in the last 34 seasons (beginning 1968) to lead the league in runs, homers, and total bases; his total base figure is the most ever for a major league shortstop. His 52 homers made him the sixth youngest to ever reach 50 homers and were the highest total ever by a shortstop, surpassing Ernie Banks' record of 47 in 1958, and also the most ever for an infielder other than a 1st baseman, breaking Phillies 3B Mike Schmidt's mark of 48 in 1980. It was his 5th 30-homer campaign, tying Banks for most ever by a shortstop. He also tied for the league lead in extra base hits (87) and ranked 3rd in RBI (135) and slugging (.622). He was also among the AL leaders in hits (4th, 201), average (7th, .318), and on-base percentage (8th, .399). He established Rangers club records for homers, runs, total bases, and hit by pitches, had the 2nd most extra base hits, and the 4th highest RBI total. He led the club in runs, hits, doubles (34), homers, RBI, slugging, and on-base percentage and was 2nd in walks (75), stolen bases (18), and game-winning RBI (14) while posting career highs for homers, RBI, and total bases. Alex started 161 games at shortstop and one as the DH, the only major league player to start all of his team's games in 2001.
He followed that with a major league-best 57 HR, 142 RBI and 389 total bases in 2002, becoming the first player to lead the majors in all three categories since 1984. He had the 6th-most home runs in AL history, the most since Roger Maris' league record 61 in 1961, and the most ever for a shortstop for the 2nd straight year while also winning his first Gold Glove Award, awarded for outstanding defense.
His 109 home runs in 2001-02 are the most ever by an American League right-handed batter in consecutive seasons. However, the Rangers finished last in the AL Western division in both years, a showing that likely cost Alex the MVP award in 2002 when he finished second to fellow shortstop Miguel Tejada, whose 103-win Oakland A's won the same division.
In 2003, his last season with Texas, Alex led the American League in home runs, runs scored, and slugging percentage, and won his second consecutive Gold Glove Award. He also led the league in fewest at bats per home run (12.9) and became the youngest player to hit 300 homers.
Following five top-10 finishes in the AL Most Valuable Player voting between 1996 and 2002, Alex won his first MVP trophy. A-Rod, a two-time runner up in the balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America, joined outfielder Andre Dawson from the 1987 Chicago Cubs as the only players to play on last-place teams and win the award.
Following the 2003 season, Texas set out to move Alex and his expensive contract. The Rangers initially agreed to a trade with the Boston Red Sox, but the MLBPA (Major League Baseball Players Association) vetoed the deal because it called for a voluntary reduction in salary by Rodriguez. Despite the failed deal with the Red Sox, the Rangers named him team captain during that off-season. This designation did not last long, however, as the New York Yankees had taken notice of the sudden trade availability of Rodriguez.
On February 7, 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that Alexander Rodriguez tested positive for anabolic steroids, testosterone and Primobolan, in 2003 (see Criticism: Steroid use, below). Rodriguez's name appears on a government-sealed list of 104 major-league players (out of 1200 tested) who came up positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The report was compiled as part of Major League Baseball's 2003 survey to see whether mandatory random drug testing program might be necessary. At the time, there was no penalty or punishment for a positive steroid test. Alex did not immediately confirm the allegations, deferring at first to the players' union. Two days after the allegations, Alex admitted to steroid use from 2001 until 2003, claiming that he ceased using such substances after spring training that year.
Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone suffered a knee injury while playing a game of pickup basketball that sidelined him for the entire 2004 season, creating a hole at third base.
On February 15, 2004, the Rangers traded Alex to the New York Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named later (Joaquín Árias was sent to the Rangers on March 24). The Rangers also agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million left on Rodriguez's contract.
Alex agreed to switch positions from shortstop to third base, paving the way for the trade, because the popular Derek Jeter was already entrenched at shortstop. Alex also had to switch uniform numbers, from 3 to 13; he had worn 3 his entire career, but that number is retired by the Yankees in honor of Babe Ruth.
In his first season with the Yankees, Alex hit .286 with 36 home runs, 106 runs batted in, 112 runs scored and 28 stolen bases. He became one of only three players in Major League history to compile at least 35 home runs, 100 runs and 100 RBI in seven consecutive seasons, joining Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx. The 112 runs marked the ninth straight season in which he scored at least 100 runs, the longest such streak in the Major Leagues since Hank Aaron did it in 13 straight seasons from 1955-1967, and the longest in the American League since Mickey Mantle did it also in nine straight seasons from 1953-1961. During the 2004 season, he also became the youngest player ever to reach the 350 HR mark and the third youngest to reach the 1,000 RBI plateau. He was elected to the 2004 American League All-Star Team, the eighth All-Star selection of his career and the first as a third baseman. On July 24, 2004, after being hit by a pitch, Alex and Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek scuffled, leading to a brawl between both teams. On defense, he had the lowest range factor among AL third basemen (2.39) in his first year at the position. He finished 14th in balloting for the AL MVP Award.
In the 2004 ALDS, Alex was a dominant hitter against the Minnesota Twins, batting .421 and slugging .737 while delivering two key extra-inning hits. Following the series win, Rodriguez's first season with the Yankees culminated in a dramatic playoff series against the team he had almost ended up playing for: the Yankees' bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox. In that series (ALCS) he equaled the single-game post-season record with five runs scored in Game 3 at Boston.
One of the most controversial plays of Rodriguez's career occurred late in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS (American League Championship Series). With one out and Derek Jeter on first base in the bottom of the eighth inning, Alex hit a slow roller between the pitcher's mound and the first base line. Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo fielded the ball and ran towards Alex to apply a tag. As Arroyo reached towards him, Alex swatted at his glove, knocking the ball loose. As the ball rolled away, Jeter scored all the way from first as Alex took second on the play, which was initially ruled an error on Arroyo. However, the umpires quickly huddled, then ruled that Alex was out for interference. Jeter was sent back to first base, his run nullified.
In 2005, Alex hit .321, leading the American League with 124 runs and 48 HR while driving in 130 runs. He became the first Yankee to win the American League home run title since Reggie Jackson (41) in 1980. He also became one of only two players in Major League history to compile at least 35 home runs, 100 runs and 100 RBIs in eight consecutive seasons (Jimmie Foxx accomplished the feat in nine straight seasons from 1932-1940). Alex established the franchise record for most home runs in a single season by a right-handed batter (broke Joe DiMaggio's mark of 46 in 1937). His 47 HR from the third base position are a single-season American League record. Alex hit 26 home runs at Yankee Stadium in 2005, establishing the single-season club record for right-handed batters (previously held by DiMaggio in 1937 and Gary Sheffield in 2004). On June 8, at 29 years, 316 days old, he became the youngest player in MLB history to reach the 400 HR mark. 2005 also marked the tenth straight season that Alex scored at least 100 runs. On defense, however, he had the lowest range factor in the league at third for the second straight season (2.62).
An offensive highlight of his season came on April 26, when Alex hit 3 HR off Angels' pitcher Bartolo Colón and drove in 10 runs. The 10 RBIs were the most by a Yankee since Tony Lazzeri established the franchise and American League record with 11 on 5/24/36. Alex won his second AL MVP Award in three seasons.
He became the fifth player to win an MVP award (or its precursor 'League Award') with two different teams, joining Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson and Barry Bonds. Alex was also named the shortstop on the Major League Baseball Latino Legends Team in 2005.
Alex was again an All-Star in 2006, and was 4th in the league in RBI (121), 5th in runs (113), 8th in home runs (35) and walks (90), and 9th in OBP (.392). He also led all AL third basemen in errors, with 24, and had the lowest fielding percentage (.937) and – for the third straight season – range factor (2.50) among them. Rodriguez's 2,000th hit, on July 21, 2006, was also his 450th home run. Six days shy of his 31st birthday, Alex became the youngest player in baseball history to reach 450 home runs (surpassing Ken Griffey, Jr. by 267 days). He also became the 8th player to reach 2,000 hits before turning 31. Ty Cobb reached the mark while still 29, while Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Joe Medwick, Jimmie Foxx, and Robin Yount all got their 2,000th hits at age 30. All 7 of the players are members of baseball's Hall of Fame. Alex also became the 2nd player in Major League history to have at least 35 home runs, 100 runs, and 100 RBI in 9 consecutive seasons joining Jimmie Foxx. 2006 was Alex's 11th consecutive season with more than 100 runs scored, the longest such streak in American League history since Lou Gehrig did it in 13 straight seasons (1926-38). Despite this success, it was one of his lesser seasons and was harshly criticized throughout the 2006 season. He has said that 2006 was his most difficult season as a professional. Prior to the season Alex opted to play for team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
With the 2007 season came a new attitude. Alex reported to camp lighter, having reduced his body fat from 16% the year before to 9%. Alex made light of this fact during a Late Night with David Letterman sketch filmed during Spring Training, which featured a shirtless A-Rod being rubbed down with suntan lotion. He revealed to the press that he and Derek Jeter were no longer close friends. Alex also reduced his high leg kick at the plate, increasing his bat speed, making him less-apt to strike out and a more dangerous hitter.
In the Yankees' fourth game of the season, Alex hit two home runs against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, including his 14th-career grand slam to end the game. The walk-off grand slam was the third of his career, tying the major league mark for game-ending grand slams shared by Vern Stephens and Cy Williams. Alex also began the season by becoming the ninth major leaguer—and first Yankee—to hit six home runs in the first seven games of the season. Alex also became the first Yankee to hit seven home runs in the first ten games of the season.
On April 19, the Yankees came from behind to defeat the Cleveland Indians 8-6—with Alex hitting a walk-off home run. WCBS Yankees radio broadcaster noted that Alex had a better frame of mind, and the fans were beginning to accept him more after his two walk-off home runs. On April 23, Alex became the first player in major league history to hit 14 home runs in a span of 18 games, and also tied the MLB record for most home runs in April. His total of 34 RBIs in April was 1 short of Juan González' AL and MLB record. On April 24, Rodriguez's 23-game hitting streak came to an end. In a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 30, Alex sparked controversy when he shouted during a routine play and the infielder let the pop fly drop, costing the Blue Jays four runs. The Yankees went on to win the game, 10–5.
On June 12, Alex hit a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks that hit off the front of the upper deck in left field. The home run was A-Rod's 25th of the season in only 63 games. That beat out his mark of the 2006 season, in which it took Alex 113 games to reach 25.
On July 12, Alex hit his 150th career home run in a Yankees uniform. This made him the first player in major league history to ever hit 150 home runs for three different teams. He is also just the third player to hit at least 100 home runs for three teams; Reggie Jackson and Darrell Evans are the other two.
On August 4, Alex hit his 500th career home run against pitcher Kyle Davies of the Kansas City Royals. This made Alex the youngest player ever to reach 500 homers (32 years, 8 days). He is only the second Yankee to hit number 500 at home; Mickey Mantle on May 14, 1967 against Stu Miller was the other.
On September 5, for the first time in his career, Alex hit two home runs in one inning against the Seattle Mariners. On September 23, New York Magazine reported that Alex was involved in a deal for a new contract with the Chicago Cubs that would include part ownership of the team. His agent, however, reported to ESPN that this was untrue.
On September 25, Alex became the fifth player ever in major league history to record a 50-home run, 150-RBI season when he hit a grand slam. Derek Jeter was one of the first of his teammates to congratulate him.
In 2007, Alex became the first player in major league history to have at least 35 home runs, 100 runs, and 100 RBI in 10 consecutive seasons, surpassing Jimmie Foxx (9 consecutive seasons).
He led the AL in home runs (54), RBIs (156), slugging percentage (.645), OPS (1.067), total bases (376), and times on base (299), and was 2nd in hit by pitch (21), extra base hits (85), and at bats per home run (10.8), 4th in on base percentage (.422) and sacrifice flies (9), 7th in walks (95) and plate appearances (708), 8th in intentional walks (11), and 9th in games (158).
On October 24, Alex won the Players Choice Award for Outstanding AL Player. On October 27, he won the Players Choice Award for Player of the Year. He also won the 2007 sliver slugger award for his position.
On November 19, 2007, Alex was named the AL MVP for the third time in his career, receiving 26 first-place votes out of a possible 28.
The 2007 season marked the last year of Rodriguez's 10-year, $252 million contract before he opted out, effectively making him a free agent again. Alex had repeatedly stated during the 2007 season that he would like to remain a Yankee for the rest of his career. On October 28, 2007, Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, announced that he would not renew his contract with the Yankees citing that he "was unsure of the future composition" of the team. He received a slew of criticism from fans and writers alike not only for opting out, but also for not meeting with Yankee management before he did. He was further criticized for the timing of his announcement, during the eighth inning of Game Four of the World Series, as the Boston Red Sox were wrapping up their victory over the Colorado Rockies. After realizing that the situation was not handled very well, Alex contacted the New York Yankees ownership directly, bypassing Boras. Subsequently, Alex issued a statement on his website, saying that he wished to stay with the Yankees. On November 15, 2007, the New York Yankees and Alex agreed on the "basic framework" of a 10-year, $275 million contract. Alex stands to make millions more if he breaks the all-time home run record as a Yankee. The contract was finalized on December 13.
On September 3, in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Alex hit his 549th home run. The opposing manager objected that the ball was foul, and for the first time in MLB history, instant replay (a process officially introduced a few days earlier) was used to review the play and uphold the umpires' ruling. He was one of only 4 batters in the AL to have at least 18 home runs and 18 stolen bases in both 2007 and 2008, along with Torii Hunter, Ian Kinsler, and Grady Sizemore. Alex hit a home run every 14.6 at-bats in 2008, the second best ratio on the team behind Jason Giambi.
Alex was to represent the Dominican Republic prior to the 2009 MLB season in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. On March 5, it was announced that Alex would miss the WBC and be out until May due to a cyst on his hip. It was later announced that Alex has torn cartilage in the hip, and that when to do the surgery was under discussion.
This Alex Rodriguez Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub