Alex Rodriguez is a Hall of Fame longshot

Will Alex Rodriguez go down in history as Major League Baseball’s most offensively productive infielder? Probably. Will he make the Hall of Fame? Probably not.

Rodriguez put the finishing touches on his career, going 1-for-4 with an RBI double in a 6-1 New York Yankees victory on Friday.

There is no denying the resume. In his 22 big-league season, “A-Rod” compiled 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs. He claimed three MVP’s, 10 Silver Slugger Awards and two Gold Gloves. He took part in 14 All-Star Games.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin remembers seeing the former Seattle Mariner come into the league enveloped in promise. And he watched Rodriguez cash in on that promise:

“The number speak for themselves. From the time he got to the big leagues he’s had the tag on him, ‘Hall of Famer’ — since the day he stepped on the big-league field.”

The numbers do more than speak, they scream their way off the page.

His home run total places him fourth in the game’s storied history. His hits: 19th, directly behind Tony Gwynn (3,141). In RBIs: third, behind only Hank Aaron (2,297) and Babe Ruth (2,213).

In the first 10 years of his career, distributed between the Mariners (seven years) and Texas Rangers (three), the Miami product played at the shortstop position previously viewed as a defense-first, defense-next position.

Along with Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra, he continued the work of Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken Jr. breaking that mold, and opening the door to young stars like Carlos Correa and Corey Seager.

The A’s also have a young slugging shortstop. While Marcus Semien, who has hit 46 home runs in 355 career games (162-game average of 21), told SFBay that he was “more of a Derek Jeter fan” he did acknowledge Rodriguez’s contributions to the game he plays:

“He was an elite dude in this league for a number of years. Coming up in Seattle, they had a great team and he was putting up serious numbers. As a 20-year-old kid, it’s pretty special.”

After signing a monster deal with the Yankees in 2004, the career .295 hitter yielded the only position he had known to Jeter and moved to third, at which he helped the “Bronx Bombers” to his first World Series Championship.

For all his positive contributions to the game, however, he has marred his name with countless transgressions. The most notable of which being his longtime attachment to steroid use.

One unnamed Boston Red Sox fan summed up the opinion of many to “Esquire’s” Luke O’Neil:

“I don’t give a shit about A-Rod. I don’t hate him, but his numbers aren’t legitimate.”

The legitimacy of his career success had long been under the microscope. Even before his name was linked to Biogenesis of America — a “rejuvenation  clinic” that had been based in Coral Gables, Florida.

Following MLB’s investigation into the clinic, Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for his use of H.G.H.

The allegations took legs in 2009, actually, when SI reported that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003.

Like former-Athletic Mark McGwire and former San Francisco Giant and home run king Barry Bonds, Rodriguez’s entrance into Cooperstown will be guarded by all those involved in the game, from baseball purists to the casual fan. But mostly by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) — the ones who vote on potential inductees.

McGwire, who finished his career with 583 home runs, appeared on just 12.3 percent of ballots (needing 75 percent to be inducted). With that number, which has slipped in each voting year, the first baseman saw his name removed from the ballot and with his chances of ever being inducted. Bonds, who received 44.3 percent of the vote in this his third chance, appears destined for the same fate.

The voters get one voice regarding the matter of steroid use, and they have used that voice to inform all those who used steroids — or even likely did so — that they are not welcome.

Of A-Rod’s and other perceived “drug cheats'” place in Cooperstown, Hall-of-Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven told the New York Daily News’ Anthony McCarron:

“Good baseball fans, when you walk into the Hall of Fame, they know. If it ever were to happen, if these (drug cheats) were to go in, good baseball fans would know they tarnished the game.”

Along with his drug use Rodriguez will be remembered for misguided actions, some of which deemed as cheating others as violations of baseball’s code.

Oakland fans will remember his run-in with pitcher Dallas Braden, when the Yankee slugger trotted over the mound after being doubled off in the sixth inning of a 4-2 A’s win.

While Red Sox fans could name several violations of baseball code, most would likely harken back to Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, when the man who earned the moniker “A-Fraud” in Beantown took an open-handed swipe at pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the eighth inning on a play at first.

Along with having to answer to fans, many fans believe Rodriguez has many questions to answer of the Baseball Gods — and they may have demanded an inquisition prior to his final game on Friday. What was to be his farewell ceremony was cut short by a thunder storm.

And that is why, even despite his spot as one of just five players ever to have both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs — Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and (steroid user) Rafael Palmeiro — A-Rod’s Hall hopes appear bleak.

As for his production, legitimate or not, Melvin surely speaks for many players and former-players when he stands in awe:

“His career is coming to an end, and he’s put up spectacular numbers. Tip of the hat to him. I’m sure, somehow, he’ll try to stay in the game.”


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.