by Harold Friend
By 2004, Alex Rodriguez was well on his way to being ranked as the second greatest shortstop of all time, but money got in the way. Honus Wagner is considered the greatest of all shortstops, but Alex was not far behind.
The Yankees Acquire Alex Rodriguez
One of the most popular, well-known entertainers in the game, Alex was traded from the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees in 2004. The Yankees sent infielder Joaquin Arias, who has a .311 lifetime batting average, and Alfonso Soriano, who averages about 145 strikeouts a season, to Texas for Alex.
Alex Rodriguez Was a Great Shortstop
Shortstop is a key position that requires great defensive skills to a greater extent than any other position, with the possible exception of catcher. Alex Rodriguez was an outstanding defensive shortstop with great range. He hit with more power than any shortstop had ever displayed.
Alex Rodriguez Put the Yankees First
The Yankees already had a future Hall of Fame shortstop, so Alex, always a team player, volunteered to play third base, despite the fact that he was a better defensive player than Derek Jeter.
Once again, Alex put the welfare of his team ahead of personal glory. One cannot and should not under-emphasize the sacrifice Alex made by moving from shortstop.
The Greatest Shortstops
The best shortstops include Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken, Luis Aparicio, Phil Rizzuto, PeeWee Reese, Lucius Appling, and Joe Cronin. Smith and Aparicio were clearly better than Alex on defense, but none comes close to Alex offensively, with the exception of Honus Wagner.
Alex Rodriguez Compared to Honus Wagner
Alex has hit 572 home runs compared to only 101 for Wagner, but the Flying Dutchman hit so many doubles and triples that he has a higher OPS+ (150) than Alex (147). Wagner hit.327 compared to Alex's .304. It is difficult to assess Wagner's defensive skills, but they couldn't have been better than Alex's.
By the end of Alex's career, almost any one who saw Wagner play would probably be dead, so statisticians could show why Alex was better than Wagner. No living person could say that she saw both Wagner and Alex play, and that Wagner was the better player. Alex Rodriguez gave all of that up to help his team win.
Alex Rodriguez is the Greatest Third Baseman in Yankees' History
There were rewards. Alex Rodriguez has become the greatest third baseman in the history of baseball's most storied franchise. He is a household name. Fans proudly walk down the street wearing replicas of his number 13 jersey. His work ethic and workouts are legendary, surpassed in intensity, according to some, only by Roger Clemens.
Alex Plays to Win
Alex Rodriguez is well compensated for his skills, but if one were to speak to Alex, it is likely that they would learn that Alex Rodriguez plays to win the World Championship. However, it is unlikely that Alex would claim that it is something that money can buy. Despite playing for the team with highest payroll in baseball history, Alex is probably correct.